Prof. Fergal O’Brien is Professor of Bioengineering & Regenerative Medicine, Deputy Director for Research and head of the Tissue Engineering Research Group (the 2017 Irish Research Laboratory of the Year) based in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. He is a graduate of mechanical engineering and his PhD research was in the area of bone mechanobiology (both from TCD). He was subsequently a Fulbright Fellow in orthopaedic tissue engineering in Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School before his faculty appointment in 2003. Since then, he has published over 200 journal articles, book chapters and editorials in peer-reviewed international journals and books, filed 13 patents/disclosures and supervised 30 doctoral students to completion. He has a current h-index of 53 (July 2017). He is currently a member of the World Council of Biomechanics and a Fellow of Engineers Ireland, the Anatomical Society and the European Alliance for Medical and Biological Engineering & Science. He is co-founder of SurgaColl Technologies, which has translated 2 technologies for bone and cartilage repair from his lab to the clinic. In addition he is an editorial board member of 5 journals and Subject Editor (Tissue Engineering) for the Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials. He is Co-chair (with Prof. Daniel Kelly, TCD) of the World Congress of Biomechanics which is being held in Ireland in 2018.
His research focuses on the development of natural polymer (e.g. collagen)- scaffold-based therapeutics for tissue engineering with target applications in bone, cartilage, cardiovascular, corneal, respiratory, neural and other 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 nucleic acids (pDNA, siRNA and microRNA) to enhance their therapeutic potential. His group also focuses on the use of these scaffolds as advanced 3D pathophysiology in vitro systems for drug development, studying cellular crosstalk in co-cultures and to understand 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 and identify novel targets for tissue repair.