The National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) has announced that Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) principal investigator Dr Colin Clarke will lead a prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Industrial Doctorate (EID) programme.

The programme will focus on the use of single-cell analysis in biopharmaceutical process development. Clarke’s team will work together with scientists across Europe over the course of the €29m four-year project, which will commence in 2019.

The biopharma industry has revolutionised the treatment of chronic diseases such as cancer and inflammatory disorders, with hundreds of millions of patients benefiting from biological medicines. As well as this, the industry is of massive importance to the European economy.

Delivering safe biological medicines

One of the most significant challenges facing the biopharma industry today is overcoming the inherent heterogeneity of cells grown in vitroto deliver effective, safe and uniform biological medicines.

The Staccato research programme will help develop top-quality single-cell analysis methods to characterise the molecular heterogeneity of cell populations used in this industry. The Staccato network is composed of an industry leader in instrumentation for cellular analysis, three innovative biotech SMEs, a leading academic institution and a research-conducting biological medicines regulatory agency. Staccato collaborates with experts to produce biopharmaceuticals such as therapeutic proteins and CAR T-cell therapy.

The highly competitive EID programme is funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme of Horizon 2020. EID networks train a new generation of early-stage researchers, helping them to convert knowledge and ideas into products and services for economic and social benefit.

Dominic Carolan, CEO of NIBRT, said: “We’re delighted that Colin will lead this programme to develop the next generation of early-stage researchers. A key feature of Staccato is collaboration amongst experts in the production of different biopharmaceuticals which provide highly encouraging clinical outcomes.”

Dr Geraldine Canny, head of the Irish Marie Skłodowska-Curie Office at the Irish Universities Association (IUA), added: “This cutting-edge, structured PhD training programme will leverage NIBRT’s strong partnerships and undoubtedly lead to enhanced employability of the graduates in industry.”

Ellen Tannam

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