Associate Principal Investigator (NIBRT)

Biopharma & CHO Cell Engineering

Programme Leader Mammalian Cell Engineering

Read a recent online article with Niall conducted by leading biopharma industry trade journal Pharma Boardroom by clicking here, or you can download a transcript of the interview here

Research Groups:

CHO Research Group


Phone:+353 (01) 7005804

Academic Background

1997 PhD in Applied Microbiology and Biochemistry, University of Ulster.

1992 BSc in Microbiology, Trinity College, Dublin.

Principal research Interests

  • Engineering CHO cells for Biopharmaceutical ProductionProfiling of miRNA, mRNA and protein expression and subsequent analysis and integration of these large datasets with a view to identifying engineering targets to improve CHO cell phenotypes relevant to the Biopharmaceutical industry. Developing advanced recombinant DNA engineering strategies for improved phenotypic stability and selection of producer lines. This includes methods for targeted genome modification and directed evolution.


  • MicroRNAs as tools to modify cellular behaviourMy lab has a particular interest not only in the use of miRNAs as genetic tools to improve Biopharmaceutical production but also in studying the manner in which these critical regulatory molecules function within cells. Recently this has involved the implementation of the bacterial CRISPR/Cas9 DNA targeting system.


  • Leachables and ExtractablesExtractable and leachable (E&L) compounds, arising from the interaction of culture media with single use plastic components for bioprocessing represent a major concern within industry. E&L’s are primarily associated with polymeric and elastomeric materials because of use of additives to increase stability of material components. We are interested in the potential impact of these contaminants on the performance of CHO cells in culture including understanding the mechanisms underlying these effects.


  • Novel DNA modifying entitiesTailored genome modification is becoming more achievable with various recent advances in the tools available to target various DNA binding and modification proteins to specific sequences in the genome. We are interested in further adding to this array of tools using small-molecule nucleases and DNA-binding chemicals, developed by collaborating inorganic chemists, tethered to guide RNAs or proteins.


Selected publications:

  1. Kelly P, Breen L, Gallagher C, Kelly S, Henry M, Lao N, Meleady P, O'Gorman D, Clynes M, Barron N. (2015) Re‐programming CHO cell metabolism using miR‐23 tips the balance towards a highly productive phenotype. Biotech J. DOI: 10.1002/biot.201500101
  2. Kelly P, Clarke C, Clynes M, Barron N. (2014) Bioprocess engineering: Micro-managing CHO cell phenotypes. Pharmaceutical Bioprocessing, 2(4), 323-337.
  3. Molphy Z, Prisecaru A, Slator C, Barron N, McCann M, Colleran J, Chandran D, Gathergood N, Kellett. (2014) Copper phenanthrene oxidative chemical nucleases. Inorg Chem. 19;53(10):5392-404.
  4. Sanchez N, Kelly P, Gallagher C, Lao NT, Clarke C, Clynes M, Barron N. (2014) CHO cell culture longevity and recombinant protein yield are enhanced by depletion of miR‐7 activity via sponge decoy vectors. Biotechnology Journal, 9, 3, pp396-404.
  5. Sanchez N, Gallagher M, Lao N, Gallagher C, Clarke C, Doolan P, Aherne S, Blanco A, Meleady P, Clynes M and Barron N. (2013) MiR-7 triggers cell cycle arrest at the G1/S transition by targeting multiple genes including Skp2 and Psme3. PLOS One. 8(6):e65671.
  6. Barron, N. (Ed.) (2012) MicroRNAs as Tools in Biopharmaceutical Production. Springer.
  7. Clarke C, Henry M, Doolan P, Kelly S, Aherne S, Sanchez N, Kelly P, Kinsella P, Breen L, Madden SF, Zhang L, Leonard M, Clynes M, Meleady P, Barron N. (2012) Integrated miRNA, mRNA and protein expression analysis reveals the role of post-transcriptional regulation in controlling CHO cell growth rate. BMC Genomics. 13(1):656
  8. Prisecaru A, Devereux M, Barron N, McCann M, Colleran J , Casey A, McKee V and Kellett A. (2012) Potent oxidative DNA cleavage by the di-copper cytotoxin: [Cu2(μ-terephthalate)(1,10-phen)4]2+. Chemical Communications 48, 55, pp6906-6908.


Link to full publication profile


Other Affiliations:

Principal Investigator, NIBRT

Professor, School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, UCD

Principal Investigator, SSPC




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