€4.88m SFI research award for leading cell therapy scientist

Posted on: 07 February 2024

€4.88m SFI research award for leading cell therapy scientist

Professor Sakis Mantalaris, a leading figure in cell therapy research, has been awarded €4.88 million as part of the prestigious Science Foundation Ireland Research Professorship Programme.

The award will facilitate Professor Mantalaris and a team of researchers in spearheading a pioneering research programme to improve the biomanufacturing of cellular therapeutics that could potentially lead to improved clinical outcomes.

Professor Mantalaris is a joint appointment between Trinity College, where he holds the Don Panoz Chair of Pharmaceutical Biology at the School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, and the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT), where he is Principal Investigator.

Cell therapy is the transfer of living cells from one source or person to another, or into the same person after manipulation for a desired function. The use of cultured cells to treat patients, especially with advanced cancers, immune or degenerative conditions, is increasing as the benefits are being realised. However, variability in cell quality, type and the process used to create them makes the product unpredictable. Professor Mantalaris and his team are working to mitigate this. 

Prof. Mantalaris' research is interdisciplinary in nature, in collaboration with Prof Nicki Panoskaltsis, spanning fundamental science to biomanufacturing engineering science towards future clinical translation. His collaborations – with Trinity Translational Medicine Institute (TTMI), NIBRT, and St James’s Hospital – will benefit Ireland’s growing cell and gene therapy ecosystem. Prof. Mantalaris also aims to bring a new MSc training programme in Advanced Precision Therapeutics & Biomanufacturing, in collaboration with NIBRT, St James’s, and IBTS to Trinity’s Graduate Studies Committee.

Commenting on this award, Prof. Mantalaris said:

“I am delighted to have been awarded an SFI Research Professorship in the area of Cellular Therapeutics. Ireland is a global leader in the ‘knowledge-based’ biomanufacturing sector, which is being shaped by the emergence of novel complex personalized medicines, such as cellular therapeutics. This award will provide a unique opportunity to integrate the academic excellence at Trinity College Dublin with the biomanufacturing excellence at the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) towards future clinical translation of cellular therapies at the St James’s academic campus.”

Prof Philip Nolan, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland, welcomed the appointment, saying:

“SFI is delighted to support Prof. Mantalaris, whose funding will support an additional 9 research positions. The SFI Research Professorship is designed to attract world-class researchers, building Ireland’s critical expertise and international reputation for excellence. His research will bolster cell therapy research here, further strengthening our global biopharma sector, while simultaneously bridging the gap between fundamental science and translational medicine.”

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