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Biography

Professor Daniel Kelly holds the Chair of Tissue Engineering at Trinity College Dublin. He received his BAI degree (Baccalaureus in Arte Ingeniaria, Latin for Bachelor in the Art of Engineering) from Trinity College Dublin, and then completed an MSc and a PhD in the field of Biomedical Engineering. After working in the medical device industry, he joined the School of Engineering in Trinity College as a lecturer in 2005. In 2008 he was the recipient of a Science Foundation Ireland President of Ireland Young Researcher Award. In 2009 he received a Fulbright Award to take a position as a Visiting Research Scholar at the Department of Biomedical Engineering in Columbia University, New York. He is the recipient of three European Research Council awards (Starter grant 2010; Consolidator grant 2015; Proof of Concept grant 2017). He was elected a fellow of Trinity College Dublin in 2010 and was promoted to his current chair in 2017.
Prof. Kelly leads a large multidisciplinary musculoskeletal tissue engineering group based in the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering. The goal of his laboratory is to understand how environmental factors regulate the fate of adult stem cells. This research underpins a more translational programme aimed at developing novel tissue engineering and 3D bioprinting strategies to regenerate damaged and diseased musculoskeletal tissues. To date he has published over 145 articles in peer-reviewed journals and secured over €15 million in research funding.
Prof Kelly is currently head of the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering and director of the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering. He is also the current director of the undergraduate Biomedical Engineering programme within the School of Engineering. He is also one of the founding Principal Investigators of the Advanced Materials and Bioengineering Research (AMBER) centre, where he currently leads the Biomaterials platform.
Throughout his academic career, Prof. Kelly has taught thousands of students on topics including solid mechanics, biomechanics, materials engineering and cell and tissue engineering. He has mentored 8 postdoctoral researchers and supervised 17 PhD students to completion; these lab alumni now work in industry and academia in the US, Africa, India and throughout Europe.
Prof. Kelly lives in Bray, Co. Wicklow with his wife Catherine and children Ben (11) and Sadhbh (9). In his spare time he enjoys playing golf and walking his dog along the seafront in Bray and along Mullaghmore beach.

Key Research Achievements


Recipient of three European Research Council grants to develop novel tissue engineering and 3D bioprinting strategies for bone and joint regeneration
In 2010 I was awarded a European Research Council (ERC) starter grant of €1.5 million to develop novel stem cell based therapies to regenerate damaged articular cartilage (STEMREPAIR). To realise the goals of this project, we first developed a range of decellularized extracellular matrix derived scaffolds for articular cartilage (Almeida + 2015; Almeida + 2017) and bone (Cunniffe + 2016; Cunniffe + 2017) repair. We then developed a single-stage cell based therapy for articular cartilage regeneration by combining these biomimetic scaffolds with freshly isolated stromal cells sourced from patients in-clinic (Almeida + 2016; Almeida + 2015).  As part of this grant, my lab also demonstrated that it is possible to engineer zonally organised tissues such as articular cartilage by recapitulating the gradients in regulatory signals that during development and skeletal maturation are believed to drive spatial changes in stem cell differentiation and tissue organization (Thorpe + 2013; Lu +2016). Realising this required undertaking a series of fundamental studies to understand how chondrogenesis is regulated by altered levels of oxygen (Buckley + 2010; Sheehy + 2012) and mechanical cues (Thorpe + 2010; Haugh +; 2011).


In 2015 I was awarded an ERC consolidator grant (JOINTPRINT) of €2 million to develop novel bioprinting strategies to engineer biological joint regeneration implants. The first aim of this project is to print a stem cell laden biomaterial that is both immediately load bearing and can facilitate the regeneration of articular cartilage in vivo, such that the bioprinted construct will not require in vitro maturation prior to implantation. To this end we have developed novel interpenetrating network hydrogels to provide mechanical function, and are integrating these biomaterials into 3D printed polymeric scaffolds to develop implants with biomimetic mechanical properties. Furthermore, we have shown that the chondro-inductivity of such printed biomaterials can be enhanced by the spatially-defined incorporation of extracellular matrix components and chondrogenic growth factors into the construct. The second aim of the project is to use 3D bioprinting to create a cell-free, composite construct to facilitate regeneration of the bony region of a large osteochondral defect, where vascularization will be accelerated by immobilizing spatial gradients of vascular endothelial growth factor into the implant. The third aim of the project is to scale-up the proposed 3D bioprinted construct to enable whole joint regeneration.


In 2017 I was awarded an ERC Proof-of-Concept grant (ANCHOR), the aim of which is to develop and commercialise a new medicinal product for articular cartilage regeneration that recruits endogenous bone marrow derived stem cells into an extracellular matrix derived scaffold anchored to the subchondral bone by 3D printed polymeric supports.


Developing new strategies for whole bone and joint regeneration
My lab are pioneering the use of stem cells isolated from different sources for engineering functional articular cartilage grafts (Buckley + 2010; Vinardell + 2012). We have shown that infrapatellar fat pad derived stem cells maintain their chondrogenic capacity in disease and can be used to engineer scaled-up cartilage grafts (Liu + 2012; Liu + 2014). We have also demonstrated how complex tissues, such as the bone-cartilage interface, can be regenerated by designing tissue engineering strategies that recapitulate aspects of the normal long bone developmental process (Sheehy + 2013). We have also shown that it is possible to scale-up such developmentally inspired processes to tissue engineer entire new bones (Sheehy + 2015) or biological implants for whole joint resurfacing (Mesallati + 2015). To extend the utility of this strategy we have used 3D bioprinting to engineer scaled-up hypertrophic cartilage templates for bone organ engineering (Daly + 2016). We are currently evaluating the capacity of such bioprinted templates, mechanically reinforced with printed polymeric networks, to regenerate entire joint surfaces. The work is funded by Science Foundation Ireland Principal Investigator Award.


Unravelling the role of mechanical cues in regulating stem cell chondrogenesis and endochondral ossification
My lab also explores how extrinsic mechanical cues can regulate stem cell fate (Thorpe + 2008; Thorpe + 2010). We have demonstrated that mechanical signals generated by dynamic compression can regulate Mesenchymal Stem Cell (MSC) fate, directing MSCs along a chondrogenic pathway as opposed to the default myogenic phenotype supported in the absence of loading (Thorpe + 2012). This work received the 2012 Perren Award of the European Society of Biomechanics. We have also demonstrated how joint specific mechanical cues such as hydrostatic pressure can enhance chondrogenesis of MSCs (Meyer + 2011; Steward + 2012) and supress their inherent tendency to undergo endochondral ossification (Vinardell + 2012; Carroll + 2014).

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