Future Investigators of Regenerative Medicine

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©2019 by Future Investigators of Regenerative Medicine

Keynote Speakers 2019 


Prof Fergal O'Brien

Professor of Bioengineering & Regenerative Medicine, Deputy Director of Research & Innovation Head of Tissue Engineering Research Group Dept. of Anatomy, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Trinity Centre for Bioengineering, Trinity College Dublin

Fergal J. O'Brien is Professor of Bioengineering & Regenerative Medicine and Head of the Tissue Engineering Research Group in RCSI, and Deputy Director of the Advanced Materials & Bioengineering Research Centre (AMBER). His research focuses on the development of natural scaffold-based therapeutics for engineering bone, cartilage, skin, respiratory, neural and other tissues. Ongoing research has focused on functionalising these scaffolds for use as biomolecule (particularly nucleic acid) delivery systems. He has trained over 35 PhD students to completion and published >200 articles in leading journals. He co-founded SurgaColl Technologies, which has translated two technologies for bone and cartilage repair from his lab to the clinic. Accolades include an SFI President of Ireland Young Researcher Award (2004), ERC Starting (2009), Proof of Concept (2015) and Advanced Grants (2018), Fellowship of Engineers Ireland (2013) and the European Alliance for Medical & Biological Engineering Science (2017), Silver Medal - Section of Bioengineering, Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland, and Membership of The Royal Irish Academy (2018).

Prof Sheila MacNeil

Professor of Tissue Engineering, Sheffield University, UK

Sheila is Emeritus Professor of Tissue Engineering at Sheffield University with expertise in tissue engineering of skin, oral mucosa, urethra, oesophagus and cornea with a strong focus on translating research to the clinic. She has published over 450 peer-reviewed articles with over 8500 citations and has an h-index of 49.  Since 1992 she has worked with clinicians in Sheffield, delivering autologous keratinocytes to burns patients and developed and commercialised improved  delivery of skin cells to patients with MySkin™ and Cryoskin™ (autologous and allogeneic cell therapy for wound healing), available for NHS patients via Regenerys Ltd (www.regenerys.com). She has also worked extensively with NHS Urologist Professor Chris Chapple in Sheffield to develop tissue engineered oral mucosa for reconstruction of urethral stricture and published a 9 year follow-up on this. Another key project is developing cell delivery membranes for corneal defects (Wellcome Trust Affordable Healthcare for India) working with colleagues in India.  She has also been developing an alternative material for support of the urethra with Professor Chris Chapple over the last 6 years which will better withstand the dynamic pressures in the pelvic floor. In recent years she has worked with colleagues in Pakistan ( Dr Muhammed Yar) to develop novel biomaterials to promote angiogenesis in chronic wounds.

She received the UK Society of Biomaterials President’s medal for her contributions to Biomaterials in both the UK and overseas in September 2014 and the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) Chapman Medal for Biomedical Materials and Biomaterials Innovation in 2018.

Dr Laura De Rosa

Head of the Gene Therapy Unit in Holostem Terapie Avanzate, Centre for Regenerative Medicine ‘Stefano Ferrari’, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy

Laura De Rosa is head of the Gene Therapy Unit in Holostem Terapie Avanzate, the first biotechnology company entirely dedicated to development, manufacture, registration and distribution of Advanced Therapies Medicinal Products (ATMPs) based on cultures of epithelial stem cells both for cell and gene therapy. She earned her PhD at the University of Naples in 2009 in Genetic and Molecular Medicine studying the role of p63 during skin development and in a mouse model of AEC syndrome. From 2011 to 2018 she was senior scientist at the Centre for Regenerative Medicine "Stefano Ferrari", Modena, in the group of Prof. Michele De Luca, a leading scientist in the field of stem cell translational medicine. She focused her research activities on epidermal stem cells and their use in translational medicine. Laura is directly involved in two phases I/II clinical trials for dystrophic and junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa and her R&D activities in Holostem Terapie Avanzate are dedicated at enhancing and developing ex-vivo epithelial stem cell gene therapy for genetic skin diseases.

Dr Lisa White

Anne McLaren Fellow, Regenerative Medicine and Cellular Therapy, School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham

Lisa White is an Anne McLaren Fellow in the Division of Regenerative Medicine and Cellular Therapy in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Nottingham. After undertaking postdoctoral research, Lisa was awarded a prestigious Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship to enable her development of decellularization and extracellular matrix technologies.  Following her return to the UK in 2015, Lisa was awarded a tenure track Anne McLaren Fellowship. Lisa’s research is multidisciplinary and includes design and manufacture of growth factor delivery systems, development of innovative extracellular matrix derived biomaterials and exploration of supercritical fluid based technologies for decellularization. Lisa’s group are currently investigating stem cell and biomaterial based strategies for liver repair, peripheral nerve regeneration, musculoskeletal tissue regeneration and spinal cord injury.

Prof Liam M Grover

Professor of Biomaterials Science, Director of the Healthcare Technologies Institute, School of Chemical Engineering, University of Birmingham

Prof. Grover is a biomaterials scientist whose research focuses on designing materials that enhance the tissue regeneration process.  He studied for both his undergraduate degree (biomedical materials science) and his PhD on the development of a novel bioresponsive ceramic (under the supervision of Jake Barralet) at the University of Birmingham, UK.  On completion of his PhD, Prof. Grover spent two years working at McGill University, Montreal, where he was awarded a CIHR Skeletal Health Scholarship to study the role of a range of proteins and condensed phosphates in the formation of minerals.  He returned to the University of Birmingham in 2006 to establish a research group in the School of Chemical Engineering.  In the time since, Prof. Grover has held funding from a multitude of funding bodies, including: the EPSRC, BBSRC, MRC, NC3Rs, the Wellcome Trust, Orthopaedics Research UK, the MoD, the EU, the Drummond Foundation and the NIHR, as well as numerous industrial partners.  Since 2006, he has been involved in raising more than £20m of research funding that has provided the University of Birmingham with an exceptional infrastructure for the development of medical technologies and directs the Healthcare Technology Institute located within the Institute for Translational Medicine.  He has published more than 150 peer reviewed publications that describe the fundamentals of mineralisation, the development of novel materials and structures to regenerate both hard and soft tissues, and the structuring of soft materials.  He has been an inventor on ten patent applications and has taken three medical technologies to the point of clinical trial.  He was made a Fellow of the Institute of Materials at 30 and was made one of the youngest full Professors in the history of the University of Birmingham at 32.

Dr Vito Mennella

Associate Professor, University of Southampton

Dr. Mennella received his B.Sc. cum laude from the University La Sapienza in Rome, Italy. After receiving a Fulbright Fellowship to continue his studies in the US he obtained his PhD in Physiology and Biophysics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. From there, Dr. Mennella joined the Howard Hughes Medical Institute lab of Dr. David Agard at the University of California San Francisco as a postdoctoral fellow. From 2014 to 2018, Dr. Mennella has been an Assistant Professor in the Biochemistry Department at University of Toronto and Research Scientist in the Cell Biology Program at the Hospital for Sick Children. Dr. Mennella is currently finishing his work and will relocate his lab in 2019. Dr. Mennella has received external funding from Canadian Institute of Health Research, National Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada and new investigator awards from the Canadian Institute of Health Research Institute for Human Development and Child Health and the American Thoracic Society-Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia foundation among others.


Dr. Mennella has been studying the cellular mechanisms underlying rare diseases of the lung and the brain using advanced imaging methods, cellular models and patient derived organoids. Most recently, Dr. Mennella and his team discovered a novel type of cilium in the airway cells with hybrid features between a motile and primary-sensory cilium. Dr. Mennella authored seminal papers, influential reviews and book chapters during his career including several articles in Nature Cell Biology, Nature Communications and Trends in Cell Biology. See google scholar https://scholar.google.ca/citations?user=tAUCOCEAAAAJ&hl=en.


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