Assoc. Prof. Jessica Whelan, University College Dublin (UCD)
SSPC welcomes new investigator, Assoc. Prof. Jessica Whelan at UCD, who will be working on the study of cryopreservation of mammalian cells. It is cutting edge research with high impact that will provide not just impactful research outputs but build research capacity in an emerging area for SSPC.
The project will contribute to society and the biopharmaceutical industry and enhance our abilities to provide life-changing medicines to patients, from vaccines to biologics to Advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs).
My career to date has been a blend of both academic and industrial positions. I was awarded a BE (Chemical) from University College Dublin in 2002 and joined MSD in Ballydine as an engineer supporting small molecule pharmaceutical manufacture. In 2004, I returned to the School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering and completed a PhD in the area of bioprocess optimization under Prof. Brian Glennon and Dr. Susan McDonnell. Subsequently, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher on an Enterprise Ireland-funded, industry-led research project which sought to implement PAT-enabled model predictive control for mammalian cell cultures.
Over the course of my time as a PhD and postdoctoral researcher, I developed capabilities in the fields of modelling, PAT, bioprocess design and optimization, advanced process control and scale up/down. In 2012, I joined APC, a company spun out from the School, focused on providing process development and support to the pharma and biopharma industries.
As Director of Technical Operations, I was responsible for overseeing a large number of applied research projects for both small and large molecule processes. In 2017, I took up a position as Associate Director, MS&T Upstream at BMS Cruiserath. During my time with BMS, I was part of the team tasked with starting up the new €1 bn biologics facility and particularly introducing the first process. I was also closely involved in the late stage development and characterization of next-generation processes. My current research interests span both chemical and biological processes and include process optimization and control with an emphasis on process intensification and effective scale up.