UL pharma centre appoints two directors for the first time

24 Aug 2017

From left: Prof Michael Zaworotko and Prof Gavin Walker, co-directors, SSPC. Image: UL

The new co-directors of SSPC hail from the fields of crystal engineering and pharmaceutical powder engineering.

After 10 years at the helm, Prof Kieran Hodnett is standing down as the first director of the Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre (SSPC).

To replace him, the SSPC has appointed two co-directors: Prof Michael Zaworotko and Prof Gavin Walker, both chairs at the Bernal Institute based in University of Limerick (UL).

The SSPC is a Science Foundation Ireland-funded centre, also based at UL, which brings together experienced scientists and engineers in academia and the pharmaceutical industry to address critical research challenges.

Walker is chair of pharmaceutical powder engineering and a principal investigator in the SFI Investigators Programme at UL. His process engineering lab is the largest process engineering group in Ireland.

Zaworotko joined UL in 2013 as the chair of crystal engineering at Bernal. He is among the world’s top 20 research chemists and his interests focus on designing crystal structures that can be used in the pharmaceutical and energy industries.

He spoke to Siliconrepublic.com about the work he’s doing in crystal engineering at Bernal.

“Crystal engineering can do two things,” he said. “It can make an old drug work better, which is good for people, but it can actually become a new drug product.”

When asked about where the science community should be focusing its efforts, Zaworotko quoted Oscar Wilde: “When people start agreeing with you, then you must be doing something wrong,” he said.

“When I started work in this area 30 years ago, nobody believed in it and there was a lot of criticism.”

Zaworotko said the science community can be slow to change but when it does, it’s a great thing to be at the forefront of that change.

“Taking up this position and working with the SSPC to make strategic collaboration a top priority will help to potentially push the frontiers of knowledge,” he said, speaking about his new appointment.

“We are looking forward to ‘going global’ by delivering results through national and international partnerships with industry to enable innovation throughout all areas of SSPC.”

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic