Looking Back: A retrospective from Prof. Kieran Hodnett

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Six Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres’ are to receive €230m in Government funding directly benefitting 850 researchers. As SSPC starts a new journey under the directorship of Prof. Mike Zaworotko and Prof. Gavin. Walker, here is a restrospective from our previous Scientific Director Prof. Kieran Hodnett. #lookingbackmovingforward.

Early 2006, we started thinking seriously about a research centre devoted to the organic solid state. At the time there were only a few involved in this type of research. Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) had announced a new programme based on that they called clusters, we went ahead with the first stage preproposal. Lodged November, 3, 2006, with lead Principal Investigators Owen Corrigan, Anne-Marie Healy, Anita Maguire, Humphrey Moynihan, Brian Glennon, Pat McArdle and myself Kieran Hodnett. I was particularly fortunate that Mary Shire had joined UL as the Director  of Research Support Services. Mary had a strong background in the pharmaceutical industry and recognised the pervasive nature of problems in crystallization and the value our proposed cluster could bring nationally.

We were selected to submit a full proposal, basically meaning we need as much industrial support as possible. Through the good offices of IBEC we secured meetings with the Council of PharmaChemical Ireland with their R&D subgroup seeking support for the proposed the establishment of Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre (SSPC). They offered collectively to support the proposal on the provision that we could persuade the individual technical managements in each of their plants of our value proposition. Consequently, several of us took to the road, visited 10 companies in Ireland over 2 weeks; amazingly, 9 of the 10 signed up.

Our proposal was lodged on March, 14, 2007 and selected for funding starting December 2007.

The cluster was funded for 6 years, with a total budget of €6M from SFI. SSPC grew and established itself as an international brand offering expertise in additional areas. In addition, APC, a massive success story became a spin-out company from University College Dublin by Brian Glennon and Mark Barrett. SSPC was now set to become a bigger centre, led by Jon O’Halloran the then cluster director. Following extensive consultations an application was made to become a Centre that focuses on the entire pharmaceutical production chain from the synthesis of the molecule to the isolation of the material and the formulation of the medicine, delivered over three strands including spokes project awards.

The full Centre proposal was submitted on September, 9, 2012 and the Centre was up and running by June 2013. In terms of impact, SSPC as a centre since has accumulated 604 journal publications.
Our presence in the literature in terms of citations is second highest amount the 6 other international pharmaceutical research centres against which we have benchmarked ourselves.

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