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SSPC, the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals, is a hub of Irish research expertise developing innovative technologies to address key challenges facing the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industry. The aim of SSPC is to deliver industry-relevant technical solutions, which result in job growth and retention within this sector in Ireland and grow the skills base of qualified scientists and engineers.

The research carried out by SSPC crosses the pharmaceutical production chain from molecule to medicine, with the objective of gaining a better understanding of mechanisms, controlling processes, and predicting outcomes for the efficient and environmentally sustainable production of safe medicines.

SSPC has created a consortium of industry and academic partners that has been the most inclusive and collaborative pharmaceutical/academic partnership in the world. The Centre exists as a link between scientists and engineers, within academia and industry in Ireland and globally, to address crucial research questions, that face the global pharmaceutical industry. A significant success of the SSPC is its unique collaboration with international academic institutions.

SSPC produces PhD graduates and post-doctoral researchers with specific disciplinary expertise, coupled with a broad understanding of cognate disciplines across pharmaceutical science and manufacturing. Building on our industry placement programme, the transition rate of SSPC researchers to industry currently stands at 70% in a global context, the highest of any research centre in Ireland.

Research Areas

The new advanced research programme covers the full scope of pharmaceutical R&D with the exception of the discovery of new chemical entities under five research themes themes Molecules (1,2 & 3), Materials, Medicines, Manufacturing and Modelling with leading academic experts.

  • Molecules 1: New methodologies for the asymmetric synthesis of existing APIs & future drug candidates. Molecules 2: Develop molecules & methods for automated & in flow generation of targeted drug hybrids. Molecules 3: Rapid initial toxicity & biological efficacy testing: new chemical entities, combinations and formulations.
  • Materials: Advance our understanding of SCCMs & MCCMs in order to enable improved orally delivered drug products.
  • Medicines: Optimise the development, production & use of safe & effective medicines.
  • Manufacturing: Enabling a disruptive change in the manufacture of drug substances and drug products.
  • Modelling: New techniques to design and predict behaviour in silico in order to reduce trial-and-error experimentation.

Research Programmes

SSPC has 27 projects within all themes, each managed by a theme leader and overseen by funded investigators spanning across nine Higher Education Institutes. 

Molecule 1:

  • Biocatalytic Approaches to Asymmetric Synthesis
  • Organocatalytic Approaches to Asymmetric Synthesis
  • Transition Metal-Catalysed Approaches to Asymmetric Synthesis
  • Green and Flow Approaches for Synthesis

Molecule 2:

  • Bio-conjugations In Flow; Drug Conjugates, Theranostic Imaging Agents and High- throughput Screening
  • Triggered Drug Screening and Release in/from Soft-materials" Peptide-based Targeted Drug Delivery Systems
  • Theranostic (Luminescent) Platforms for Targeted Oligonucleotide and DNA
  • Biocompatible, Supramolecular Network Structures for Drug-delivery, Sensing and Regenerative Medical Applications"
  • Theranostic Platforms for Cancers

Molecule 3:

  • Mechanisms of anticancer drug resistance
  • Development of in vitro models for human differentiated tissues
  • Muscle and adipose tissue models for evaluation of mitochondrial effects and potential for treatment of type II diabetes
  • Bacterial and Fungal antibiotic resistance; mechanism discovery and screening systems
  • Development of targeted ‘click chemistry’ strategies for the
  • characterisation of drug uptake and localisation in cellular environments


  • Rapid discovery of MCCMs with improved physicochemical properties
  • Determining how coformers impact biological efficacy
  • Molecular level understanding of excipient-drug substance interactions
  • Tailoring crystal size distributions for product performance
  • Kinetics of impurity discrimination/additive interaction at the molecular scale of crystal growth
  • Nucleation control, stabilization and isolation of pharmaceutical nanoparticles


  • Hybrid Processing and Automated Process Design
  • Continuous and Miniaturised Manufacturing
  • Advanced Manufacturing Techniques


  • Framework for understanding and predicting multi-component solid forms from first principles
  • Framework for understanding and predicting multi-component solid forms from first principles
  • Deciphering nanoscale design rules of macromolecular self-assembly
  • Mathematical modelling of physicochemical processes
  • Multi-Scale Simulations of Flow and Crystallisation in Industrial Crystallisers

Research Performing Organisations

SSPC, the SFI Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals is hosted by the University of Limerick in partnership with University College Cork, National University of Galway, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, University College Dublin, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Maynooth University and Waterford IT.

Industry And Commercialisation

  • Abbvie
  • Alkermes
  • APC
  • BioMarin
  • Canty
  • Eli Lilly
  • Innopharma
  • Janssen
  • Jazz Pharmaceuticals
  • Magritek
  • ​MSD
  • M-Star CFD
  • Perceptive Engineering
  • Pfizer
  • Regeneron
  • Sanofi
  • Scale-Up
  • SK Biotek
  • Zentiva


Education And Public Engagement

SSPC in collaboration with Science Foundation Ireland, is involved in many local and national events including Science Week, National Ploughing Festival, SSPC National Crystal Growing Competition, chemistry demonstration workshops and more. SSPC provides professional development training to teachers and connects post-primary students with access to scientists via the Smart Futures programme. SSPC actively supports industry partners and their research associates through industry focused upskilling and training. SSPC also provides an industrial placement programme for PhD candidates.

Key Contact Details

Prof Michael Zaworotko

Prof Gavin Walker

Denise Croker
Executive Director

Aisling Arthur
Industry Engagement Manager

Martin McHugh
Project and Public Engagement Office

Dermot Hayes
Programme Manager

Donal Killackey
EU Grants Manager

Dr Sarah Hayes
Academic and Public Engagement Manager

John Brennan
Business Development Manager

Louise O'Neill
Communications and Marketing Manager

Louise Laffan
Senior Administrator