SFI pharma research centre names Damien Thompson as its new director

6 Mar 2023

Prof Damien Thompson. Image: Brian Arthur

Prof Damien Thompson takes over as director of the SSPC from its previous co-directors Prof Michael Zaworotko and Prof Gavin Walker.

Prof Damien Thompson has been appointed the role of director of Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) research centre for pharmaceuticals (SSPC).

Thompson has served as the SSPC’s interim director since last April. He is a professor of molecular modelling at University of Limerick (UL), where the SSPC is based.

He leads the predictive materials modelling group at SSPC and the Bernal Institute at UL. His research focuses primarily on the modelling and design of nano-structured materials for health and sustainability.

“SSPC has been an enormous success to date and the opportunity to lead one of our world-class research centres is one I am very happy to take up,” Thompson said.

He paid tribute to the SSPC’s previous co-directors Prof Michael Zaworotko and Prof Gavin Walker, whom he said paved the way and steered the centre’s international recognition.

“At SSPC we work at the forefront of pharma and biopharma research, leveraging the collective expertise in the centre to drive innovation and bring our new science into industry, supporting smart manufacturing of sustainable drug products. For pharma and biopharma, this means more agile, leaner, more eco-friendly manufacturing of more effective, safer, more affordable medicines,” he added.

In his new role as director of the SSPC, Thompson will work to cement the centre’s relationships with its partners; third level institutions, international collaborators and industry partners.

Congratulating Thompson on his appointment, UL’s VP for research, Prof Norelee Kennedy, said he was “a natural leader” and a researcher who “has built a profile as an excellent academic over his career.”

Kennedy said she was excited to work with Thompson on the centre’s ambitious research programme over the next 10 years.

He has been involved in a lot of cutting-edge research projects at UL and his team’s work regularly features in international scientific journals.

Last November, he led a team that discovered that brain-like computing was possible at a molecular level.

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.