The Bio Materials Research Cluster

The Bio Materials Research Cluster focuses on structured biological materials and systems based on molecular and cellular building blocks that range from molecular ensembles to cells/cell aggregates, tissues, and organs, and the interface with non-biological materials such as implants, drugs, and their combination.

Our knowledge of interactions at the interface of the body and its outer environment, biomaterials and the physiological microenvironment, and biomaterials’ components will help overcome scientific and engineering challenges and help reduce the use of animal models by providing robust functional biomimetics and in silico models.

Modelling, design, and synthesis of innovative biomaterials based on the understanding of biological and pathological processes and through the use of in vitro mimetic models of diseases, high-resolution imaging, and characterisation tools, will pave the way for the development of new therapeutic strategies and solutions. To this effect, molecular characterisation and processing are linked with process engineering and molecular and nanomaterials science through the respective Bernal Research Clusters to produce and study biological and bioactive molecules and obtain a new understanding of molecular and cellular properties in physiological environments. Key areas of research and competencies within the Cluster include:

(1) Process and characterisation of biomolecules (Biopoint).

(2) Development of biomimetics, and bioinspired engineering (BioSciBer).

(3) Bio-piezoelectricity (MOSAIC).

(4) Functional Foods & Nutraceuticals

(5) Cancer research with the Limerick Centre for Cancer Research (LCRC).

The specific goals of the Bio Materials Cluster are

  1. To challenge currently accepted norms in disease diagnosis and therapy by converging knowledge and expertise from multiple disciplines targeting cancer, neurological diseases, aging-related diseases, and community health.
  2. To understand, design, and manufacture innovative biomaterials (hydrogels, 3D scaffolds, membranes, nano/microparticles) based on biological polymers and other materials for applications in delivery systems, sensing, tissue engineeringand regenerative medicine), and to investigate the impact of the materials on the biological system and vice versa.
  3. To understand, design, and generate new biological model systems (i.e., 3D organoids, tissue barriers) for basic- and translational research, and the development and testing of pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals.
  4. Leveraging national and European stakeholders’ engagement to create a wider international impact in the area of Bio Materials

The Biomaterials Cluster comprises 25 Principal Investigators: (Alexandros Tsoupras, Andreas Grabrucker (Lead), Christophe Silien, Dick FitzGerald, Eamonn DeBarra, Eibhlis O’Connor, Elizabeth Ryan (Co-Lead), Emmet O’Reilly, Gary Walsh, George Barreto, Ioannis Zabetakis, Jacques Huyghe, Jakki Cooney, James Brown (LCRC theme Lead), John Mulvihill (Co-Lead), Kieran McGourty, Maurice Collins, Michael Walsh, Patrick Kiely, Paul Murray, Sarah Hudson, Sean Fair, Tewfik Soulimane, Tofail Syed, Tony Pembroke).

The group currently hosts 47 PhD students and 27 postdoctoral researchers.