People

Dr. Peter McLoughlin

Principal Investigator

Peter McLoughlin is currently Head of Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies at Waterford Institute of Technology and Principal Investigator in the Pharmaceutical and Molecular Biotechnology Research Centre.

Peter's main research interests include the development of polymeric media for novel analytical technology and smart drug delivery. Current research involves the development of materials including molecularly imprinted polymers for PAT, chromatographic applications and controlled drug release. This research involves collaboration with a number of multinational and indigenous pharmaceutical and medical device companies. To date Peter has supervised 10 Ph.D. students and one Masters student to completion and coordinated research applications resulting in over €10 million in funding to WIT.

Dr. Niall O'Reilly

Centre Manager

Niall O'Reilly joined the PMBRC as Centre Manger in 2009 and has over 12 years pharmaceutical R&D experience, over half of which has been in industry. Niall has overseen the development of the centre since 2009 including the coordination of projects with almost 50 industry partners totalling €2.7m. Prior to joining the PMBRC, Niall held positions in Élan Drug Delivery (now Alkermes) and Genzyme Ireland Ltd. working in areas such as formulation and process development; analytical method development and validation; stability; clinical manufacture, scale-up and commercialisation. He has experience in the development of tablets, multiparticulates, capsules, powders, softgels, transdermals and injectables. Niall’s research interests include controlled release drug delivery, drug product formulation and pharmaceutical analysis. Niall holds a B.Sc. degree in Industrial Chemistry from the University of Limerick and was awarded a Ph.D. from the same institution for his research on biotransformations in organic solvents. Niall serves on the board of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technology Centre and is a member of the WIT Commercialisation Committee.

Phone: +353 (0) 51 306167

Email: noreilly@wit.ie

Dr. Praful Balavant Deshpande

Technology Leader, Formulation/Pre-Formulation

Dr. Praful earned his M. Pharm. from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, India and Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Manipal University, India. Prior to joining the PMBRC in December 2014, Dr. Praful worked in formulation R&D for a number of pharmaceutical companies and has successfully developed and commercialized pharmaceutical products for regulated markets. Dr. Praful’s research expertise also includes the development of novel drug delivery systems such as nanoparticles, liposomes, proliposomes, and controlled/modified release systems to address solubility and bioavailability related challenges as well as performing in vivo mapping of formulations. To date, he has authored/co-authored 16 refereed journal publications, 2 book chapter and has filed 1 patent. In his present role as a Technology Leader, Dr. Praful is responsible for developing the capabilities of the PMBRC in the area of Preformulation, Formulation and Characterization and to deliver technology solutions in this field to industry partners.

Email: pbdeshpande@wit.ie

Dr. Siobhan Ryan

Contract Research Coordinator

Siobhan attained a BSc (Hons) Degree in Applied Biology with Quality Management and a PhD in Biochemistry from Waterford Institute of Technology. As an IRCSET scholar, the focus of Siobhan’s PhD research centred on the biochemical effects of heavy metal exposure on seaweeds. The major areas of method development included size exclusion chromatography, HPLC and SDS (PAGE) methods for the separation and identification of seaweed protein extracts.

In 2010 Siobhan lectured at WIT, delivering laboratory practical classes to Pharmaceutical/Biopharmaceutical Science students in areas including DNA sequencing, gram staining, agarose gel electrophoresis, aseptic technique, antibiotic testing, and acid-base titrations.

Siobhan has several years of pharmaceutical experience, employed as a QC Microbiologist with Genzyme Ireland (a Sanofi Company). Her main areas of expertise included microbial limit testing (MLT), growth promotions, Vitek bacterial Identification, validation studies, performing laboratory investigations, completing periodic product reviews (PPR) and implementing 5S and lean manufacturing projects. Siobhan was a member of the Great Place To Work Team when Genzyme were voted Best Large Workplace Winners in 2015.

Since 2015, Siobhan has been employed as Contract Research Coordinator with the PMBRC. Her work focuses on method development for contract analysis projects, performing contract analysis for industry clients and summarising findings in technical reports.

Email: smryan@wit.ie

Dr. Brian Murphy

Technology Leader: Analytical

Currently, Brian is Technology Leader (Analytical) with the PMBRC. This role focuses on analytical method development, problem-solving and delivering technology solutions to industrial clients.

Brian obtained a BSc (Hons) in Chemistry from the University of South Wales, UK and a PhD in Environmental/Analytical Chemistry at WIT. This research focused on the development of a novel IR-based sensor platform for the determination of environmental pollutants.

Brian has several years of industrial experience, employed in quality and technical roles within the Pharmaceutical sector.

Brian completed postdoctoral positions at WIT (Molecularly Imprinted Polymers & biotransformation reaction monitoring via IR spectroscopy), the National Centre for Sensor Research (NCSR) at DCU (Development of Sol-Gel polymers), and Teagasc Ashtown Food Research Centre (Analytical method development for trace contaminants in food products). Subsequently, Brian returned to WIT in centre manager roles with the Eco-Innovation Research Centre (EIRC), and the EU-funded Wales Ireland Network for Innovative Photovoltaic Technologies (WIN-IPT).

E-mail: bmurphy@wit.ie

Dr. Michael Breen

Lecturer in Chemistry, Department of Science

Dr. Michael Breen is a lecturer in the Department Sciences in WIT and is the programme leader for the BSc (Hons) in Agricultural Science. Dr. Breen obtained a B.Sc. (First Class Hons) in Chemistry at UCD, before completing a PhD in Physical Chemistry at Waterford Institute of Technology (in conjunction with the Materials and Surface Science Institute at the University of Limerick). Since joining WIT in 2000, Michael has lectured at both undergraduate and postgraduate level in areas such as chemistry, environmental science and agricultural science.

Dr. Lee Coffey

Lecturer, Department of Science

Dr Lee Coffey is a Lecturer in Microbiology and Biopharmaceutical Science at WIT and leads the molecular biotechnology/biocatalysis research at the PMBRC. He received a BSc (Hons) Degree in Applied Biology with Quality Management and a PhD in Molecular Biotechnology from WIT. In this time Lee gained experience in industry in both microbiological and pharmaceutical laboratories. Lee conducted his postdoctoral research at the PMBRC, expanding the biocatalysis research while also serving as manager of the Molecular Biology research lab. In March 2011 he subsequently became Project and Laboratory Manager for the MISE project, a €1.4m Interreg 4A funded project involving 6 partner organizations in Ireland and Wales. Lee is currently supervising five postgraduate students. He has presented at numerous national and international conferences, published 10 peer-reviewed papers, filed three IDF/patent/PCT applications and recently secured a biocatalysis technology license agreement with a global pharmaceutical company. He has secured over €305,000 in research funding to date from various international and national funding sources.

Email: lcoffey@wit.ie

Dr. Wayne Cummins

Lecturer, Department of Science

Wayne graduated with a B.Sc. in Applied Chemistry with Quality Management from Waterford Institute of Technology in 2002. He went on to complete his Ph.D. at WIT, working in the area of molecular imprinting and analytical chemistry. Aspects of this work have been published in a number of scientific journals. Wayne joined Pfizer in 2006, initially working as a new product specialist in the Little Island API manufacturing facility. In 2007 he took up a position as a Research & Development scientist in the Process Development centre located at the Pfizer Loughbeg API manufacturing site. In 2009 Wayne joined the Pharmaceutical and Molecular Biotechnology Research Centre in WIT as a postdoctoral researcher, where he is currently working on the development and characterisation of polymeric carriers for targeted drug delivery.

Dr. Sheila Donegan

Lecturer, Department of Science

Sheila Donegan completed her Ph.D. in Surface and Interfacial Chemistry in 1991, conducting her research jointly between Clarkson University, USA and UCD. Having completed her Ph.D., Sheila worked for two and a half years in the Polymer Coatings Research Unit, Materials Ireland, FORBAIRT, now Enterprise Ireland. This work involved research for indigenous companies lacking R&D facilities. She worked on EU projects concerned with reducing the amount of VOC’s in paints. In addition, she worked for an Irish company on the production of water dispersible metallic paint resulting in a European patent (EP 93029).

Since 1994 Sheila has been a lecturer in Physical Chemistry at WIT where she is an active researcher in the area of surface and analytical science, publishing extensively in the area of pharmaceutical analysis. Sheila is currently a member of the research advisory board of the Materials and Surface Science Institute (UL), the WIT research council and is a member of the steering committee of the Irish Government's Discover Science and Engineering programme.

Dr. Laurence Fitzhenry

Lecturer, Department of Science

Laurence obtained a B.Sc. in Applied Chemistry from WIT in 2007, where he also undertook his doctoral studies. His research focussed on the development of molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) for the controlled release and selective sensing of corticosteroids. Laurence joined the PMBRC as a postdoctoral researcher in October 2011, where he worked on the use of biodegradable and biocompatible polymers for the delivery of highly hydrophilic drugs. His current role as Technology Leader in the PMBRC began in January 2013 and focuses on engagement with industry-based projects such as materials characterisation, impurity identification, process improvement and product development. His research interests include the use of molecularly imprinted polymers for separation and detection as well as polymeric drug delivery using biocompatible materials.

Email: lfitzhenry@wit.ie

Dr. Helen Fox

Postdoctoral Researcher

Helen is a Research Fellow working in the PMBRC. Her research interests focus on understanding solid pharmaceutical materials and include formulation, characterisation and stability of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and understanding how the physical properties of particles in dry powder inhalation blends influence inhaler performance.

Helen obtained a B.Sc. (Hons) degree in Applied Physics from Dublin City University in 2003. She then moved to Trinity College Dublin where she completed a PhD in Materials Science in the Chemical Physics of Low-Dimensional Nanostructures Group. Her research involved characterising the interactions between DNA and carbon nanotubes and exploring the factors controlling the dispersion efficiency of DNA. Upon completion of her PhD, Helen worked as a postdoctoral researcher, continuing her research on biomolecule-wrapped nanotubes. In 2012, Helen joined the PMBRC to carry out research on solid pharmaceutical materials.

Email: hfox@wit.ie

Dr. June Frisby

Lecturer, Department of Science

June Frisby obtained her B.Sc. in Applied Chemistry with Quality Management from WIT and a Ph.D. in sensor research from Dublin City University. June then worked in Ivax Pharmaceuticals (now Teva) before joining WIT in 2006 as a project coordinator and postdoctoral researcher. During this period June has coordinated a Technology Sector Strand III programme as well as an INTERREG project with Cardiff University. June has been instrumental in securing funding from various national and European sources and was involved in the set up of the PMBRC. June’s current research interests include the use of non-invasive drug delivery systems for the treatment of ocular diseases.

Dr. Martina Gooney

Lecturer, School of Health Sciences

Dr. Martina Gooney obtained a B.Sc. in Biomedical Science from University College Cork and completed her Ph.D. at Trinity College, Dublin. Her Ph.D. studies involved the study of the cellular mechanism underlying the role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in synaptic plasticity.
In 2001, Martina was appointed to a lectureship in Anatomy and Physiology in Waterford Institute of Technology. During her time at WIT, she has been involved in a number of research projects and has been actively involved in establishing the Biomedical Research Cluster.
One of her main research interests lies in the identification of biomarkers that are involved in cancer-related fatigue and associated symptoms. In collaboration with academic, clinical and industrial partners, she has obtained over €3 million in research funding from competitive national and international sources.

Dr. Michael Harrison

Head of School of Science and Computing

Michael Harrison obtained an undergraduate degree in Sports Studies from the University of Ulster, an MSc in Sports Science from Loughborough University (UK) and a PhD from the School of Health and Human Performance at Dublin City University. His PhD studies examined the metabolic and vascular inflammatory responses to high fat meals consumed with and without prior exercise. He has been lecturing in Waterford Institute of Technology since 1999 and is course leader of the BA (Hons) in Exercise and Health Studies.

Michael’s research interests relate to vascular health and how it is impacted by exercise. Central to his current research projects are novel biomarkers and mediators of vascular health status including cell-derived microparticles, platelet monocyte aggregrates and endothelial progenitor cells. Research collaborators include Waterford Regional Hospital, the School of Health and Human Performance at Dublin City University and the Inactivity Physiology division of the Pennington Biomedical Research Institute (USA).

Dr. Helen Hughes

Lecturer, Department of Science

Dr. Helen Hughes obtained a B.Sc. in Analytical Science and a Ph.D. on the synthesis and characterisation of Ruthenium (II) bipyridyl complexes from Dublin City University. Following her Ph.D. Helen worked as a trainee quality manager in Waterford Foods, a research scientist in Gerard Laboratories, Dublin, and an analyst in Schering Plough, USA and Bristol Meyers Squibb, Dublin.

In 1994 Helen was appointed to a lectureship in inorganic chemistry and quality management in Waterford Institute of Technology. Her research interests include the use of Molecular Imprinted Polymers for separation science and for ocular drug delivery; the use of seaweed biomass for bioremediation of metals and as a potential source of antibiotic and antimicrobial agents; and the investigation of the properties of organogermanium complexes as potential chemotherapeutic agents (in conjunction with Dr. Fiona Regan at Dublin City University).

Since joining WIT, Helen has obtained approximately €4 million in research funding, has successfully graduated students at both M.Sc. and Ph.D. level and has established collaborative projects with Genzyme Ireland Ltd., MSD and Bausch & Lomb. Helen is a founding member of the PMBRC.

Dr. Nabla Kennedy

Lecturer, Department of Science

Nabla Kennedy obtained her PhD in Microbial Ecology from University College Dublin in 2004. She worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) in Canada (2005-2010), in the area of soil microbiology. From 2011-2012 she was an Irish Research Council Enterprise Partnership Scheme Postdoctoral Fellow at IT Carlow, studying decomposition processes in municipal solid waste. Since 2013 she has been a Lecturer in Microbiology in the Department of Science in WIT. Her research interests include the role of microbes in the environment (soil, waste composting, and anaerobic digestion); microbial ecology, particularly fungal and bacterial involvement in nutrient cycling in terrestrial ecosystems; and the application of molecular ecology tools to study microbial populations in the environment.

Dr. Mike Kinsella

Lecturer in Organic Chemistry, Department of Science

Dr Kinsella received a BSc (Hons) Degree in Applied Chemistry with Quality Management a PhD in Organic and Analytical chemistry from WIT. The subject of his IRCSET-funded PhD thesis was the Synthesis of Artificial Receptor Motifs for Anion Binding and Organocatalysis. Dr Kinsella conducted his postdoctoral research in the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, UCC from October 2010 to June 2013 on the novel application of LC-MS technology for identification and analysis of biofluids with a particular focus on metabolomics, proteomics and quantitation of vitamin D metabolites in human serum. In June 2013, he returned to WIT to manage two large EU funded research projects (WINSS Interreg 4A project and HIPODERM Fp7 Marie Curie IAPP project) in addition to working on a number of industrial research projects and commenced a lecturing role in September 2014. His research interests include organic synthesis and enantioselective organocatalysis, biocatalysis, extraction and analysis of functional materials from natural sources, drug delivery and novel applications of LC-MS.

Email: mkinsella@wit.ie

Dr. Claire Lennon

Lecturer, Department of Science

Claire Lennon obtained her B.Sc. in Industrial Chemistry from the University of Limerick before completing a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at University College Dublin. Claire then worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh before joining Pfizer in Cork as a Development Chemist. After two years in Pfizer, Claire joined WIT as a lecturer in organic chemistry and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Claire’s research interests are in organic synthesis and biotransformations.

Dr. Orla O’Donovan

Head of Department of Science

Dr. Orla O'Donovan obtained a B.Sc. in Biochemistry from NUI, Galway where she also carried out her Ph.D. research on ‘The activating factor for peptidylglycine monooxygenase in bovine pituitary tissue’. On completion of her Ph.D. Orla worked as a clinical biochemist in the Limerick Regional Hospital where her work mainly focused on endocrinology.

In 1998, Orla was appointed to a lectureship in Biochemistry in the Waterford Institute of Technology. She is active in a variety of research areas such as the development of novel pharmaceutical delivery systems/platforms; the identification of the cytokines, adhesion molecules, microparticles and other inflammatory markers that are influenced by cancer; and the mechanism by which metal sequesterisation by seaweeds occurs at a proteomic and genomic level.

Her research activity in WIT has led to awards of over €5.5 million in research funding from competitive national, industrial, EU and international funding. Her collaborations involve clinical, academic and industrial partners in Ireland and internationally.

Dr Joseph O'Mahony

Lecturer, School of Engineering

Joseph O’Mahony completed his B.Sc. degree in Applied Physics at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) before conducting his doctoral research on computerised methodologies for the on-line detection of immunological binding events, also at CIT. Joseph then worked in Queens University, Belfast as an EU-TMR Research Fellow, studying the electromagnetic interactions in tunnelling. Following this Joseph worked as a senior design engineer for Andor Technology Belfast before joining WIT in 2002 as a lecturer in the School of Engineering. Dr. O’Mahony heads up the Nanotechnology Research Group where his research interests include organic electronics, scanning probe microscopy and nanosensing.

Dr. Catherine O’Reilly

Lecturer, Department of Science

Catherine O’Reilly obtained a B.A. (mod) from Trinity College Dublin where she also carried out her Ph.D. studies on unstable mutants in Salmonella typhimurium. Catherine completed postdoctoral positions at the Max Plank institute, Cologne, and Durham University, UK, before being appointed to a lecturership in molecular genetics at the University of Sunderland. There Catherine established a research group in collaboration with ICI Biological Products (now Astra Zeneca) where they used genetic engineering to produce the enzyme cyanide hydratase for the bioremediation of cyanide. Catherine joined WIT in 1995 where she has continued her research in this area and has collaborated Prof. Mei-Xiang Wang at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. Dr. O’Reilly also has research interests in molecular ecology and has developed a range of novel DNA analysis techniques to monitor mammals.

Dr. Eleanor Owens

Lecturer, Department of Science

Dr. Eleanor Owens obtained a B.Sc. in Chemistry at the University of Aberdeen before completing a Ph.D. at City University, London. Her Ph.D. researched involved the photocrosslinking of photosensitive PVA.

On completion of her Ph.D. Eleanor spent 3 years as a Senior Research Officer at the Paint Research Association in the UK investigating the exterior durability of UV curable coatings. She moved into industry for 4 years where she worked as Product Manager for De La Rue Holographic’s Tamper Evident Label division.

Since joining WIT in September 2002, Eleanor continued her research in the area of Photosensitive Polymers and Molecularly Imprinted Polymers with successful grant applications from national, industrial and international sources. Her research interests have also diversified into the characterisation and development of Solid Biofuel.