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UL-based SSPC appoints Dr Sarah Hayes as new chief operating officer

Thu, 01 Apr 2021

Dr Sarah Hayes has been appointed as the new Chief Operations Officer of SSPC, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals based at University of Limerick.

Dr Hayes has more than 13 years’ experience at the interface of academia and industry, working in research, education, operational management and large-scale project management in industrial, academic, national and international settings.

She has previously held the position of SSPC Associate Director for Academic Partnerships and Public Engagement, and prior to that held positions in Mary Immaculate College, the University of Bremen and University of Limerick.

A well-established investigator in her own right, Dr Hayes has significant experience in managing multinational and multi-sectoral R&D projects, having been awarded over €7.3M, with €1.2M directly to Sarah as investigator for her own research portfolio.

She established SSPC’s award winning bespoke industry-academic internship programme linking the PhD curriculum with industry sector needs, including the delivery of trainee industrial placements.

Commenting on her appointment Dr Hayes said: “I am delighted to be joining the exciting leadership team of SSPC, working with Prof.’s Gavin Walker and Mike Zaworotko to lead this world-class research centre. SSPC has long been unique globally, and central to the Irish pharmaceutical industry. I am confident that, with the excellent foundations laid by Prof. Kieran Hodnett and my predecessors Jon O’Halloran and Dr Denise Croker, and with our outstanding team, SSPC will continue to play a leading role for the pharma industry in Ireland, and globally.”

Maeve Devlin, Chair of SSPC’s Governance Committee, added: “We are delighted to welcome Sarah on board and we look forward to working together in continuing SSPC’s important mission of supporting the growth of the biopharma sector in Ireland and building Ireland’s reputation internationally as a base for talent and know-how in pharma and a preferred location for future investment.”

She replaces Dr Margaret Lawlor, who stepped in as interim executive director, leading SSPC through unprecedented times during the global pandemic. Dr Hayes and the centre directors would like to acknowledge the contribution Dr Lawlor has made to the centre during the last year.

Dr Hayes brings a wealth of knowledge and research funding experience to SSPC, and will support the Centre in growing from strength to strength and reach its full potential in the years ahead. Her role will be based at the research centre’s headquarters at the Bernal Institute in UL.

Sarah will work alongside Co-Directors Professor Mike Zaworotko and Professor Gavin Walker in continuing to support the development of innovative technologies addressing key challenges facing the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industry.

SSPC is home to more than 200 researchers across nine Irish education institutes. Founded in 2007, SSPC researchers work in partnership with the international pharma and biopharma sector to solve key industrial challenges enabling novel and efficient methods of manufacturing safer, cheaper and more effective medicines for the future.