L - R: Dr Mary Shire, Vice President Research at UL, Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General SFI; Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs Enterprise and Innovation; Sean Sherlock, Minister of State for Research and Innovation; Prof Kieran Hodnett, Dean, Faculty of Science & Engineering, UL
A research centre led by the University of Limerick dedicated to supporting the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland will benefit from today's announcement of €300 million investment by Science Foundation Ireland. The Irish pharmaceutical industry supports over 60,000 Irish jobs and exports over €50 billion annually. The University of Limerick welcomes the government's commitment to supporting research as part of Ireland's economic recovery plan
The Synthesis & Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre (SSPC) is a unique collaboration between 17 companies 8 academic institutions and will position Ireland as a global hub for pharmaceutical process innovation and advanced manufacturing. Building a core capability in the area of process R&D will serve to cement the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland. It will help to retain jobs in existing pharmaceutical companies and support local management in the intra-corporate competition for new investment projects. A key theme of the research is its focus on process efficiencies and 'greener' chemistry, which will have a positive impact on the environment by reducing and in some cases eliminating the use of environmentally hazardous materials.
Dr Mary Shire, Vice President Research at UL, welcomed the announcement; "The establishment of the Synthesis & Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre will have overarching economic impacts for Ireland in the retention and creation of jobs in the pharmaceutical industry. This investment will have major significance in promoting Ireland as a location for Foreign Direct Investment and job creation particularly in R&D and advanced manufacturing".
The Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceuticals Centre provides the necessary skill set to comprehensively investigate pharmaceutical solids by bringing together complementary academic and industrial groupings from the disciplines of Chemistry, Pharmaceutics, Pharmaceutical Technology, Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. These groups have expertise in process modelling and design, scale-up, computational fluid dynamics, in situ solution and solid-phase monitoring, crystallography and powder characterisation. The objective is to rationally design solid-state pharmaceutical materials in the required physical and chemical forms to meet the demands of advanced formulation and drug delivery systems. The Centre will have access to significant capital infrastructure in the academic institute including the state of the art microscopy suite in the Materials and Surface Science institute at the University of Limerick.
As one of the most highly regulated industries, the pharmaceutical sector has significant and costly problems with the lack of reproducibility of solid-state forms. Costs increase when material must be reprocessed or discarded because a product is outside of its regulated specification due to failure of a unit operation. The lack of a fundamental scientific understanding of phenomena such as crystallisation, phase transformations, polymorphism, mechanism of desolvation and physical forces involved in precipitation, drying, milling and compression lie at the heart of these problems. Ireland is home to 8 out of the world's top 10 pharmaceutical companies and 6 of the top 10 blockbuster drugs are manufactured here.