Prof. O’Brien is Professor of Bioengineering & Regenerative Medicine, Head of Tissue Engineering Research Group and Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation at RCSI. He is also Deputy Director of AMBER and co-leads the Materials for Health theme with Prof. Daniel Kelly.
His research focuses on the development of natural polymer scaffold-based therapeutics for tissue engineering with target applications in bone, cartilage, cardiovascular, corneal, respiratory and neural tissues. A major focus of ongoing research has been to functionalise these scaffolds for use as delivery systems for biomolecules with a particular interest in the delivery of gene therapeutics. His group also focusses on the use of these scaffolds as advanced 3D pathophysiology in vitro systems for drug development and for studying cellular crosstalk in co-cultures and understanding disease states in cancer, angiogenesis, immunology and infection. In addition, he has a major interest in studying the response of living cells to mechanical stimuli (mechanobiology) and using biophysical stimuli to regulate stem cell differentiation.
He is a leading innovator in the development of advanced biomaterials for regenerative medicine. Since his faculty appointment, he has published over 250 journal articles, supervised over 45 doctoral students to completion, filed over 20 patents/disclosures and translated a number regenerative technologies for bone and cartilage repair to the clinic through spin-out formation and licensing to industry. He has presented over 100 invited talks and has a current h-index of 81 (Feb 2022). Among his numerous accolades he was elected as a member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2018 and was the recipient of the Science Foundation Ireland Industry Partnership Award in 2020 and Knowledge Transfer Ireland Commercialisation Impact award in 2021.
He is a recipient of three prestigious European Research Council Awards including an ongoing €3 million ERC Advanced Grant.
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