Dr Nicola Gardiner
Chief Medical Scientist, Cryobiology Laboratory Stem Cell Facility
St James Hospital
Presentation Title: Ever changing goalposts: Evolution of a Clinical Cellular Therapy Programme
The first Irish bone marrow transplant was performed in 1984 since then the service has evolved from 6 to 200+ stem cell transplants per year. Both the number and complexity of stem cell processing for transplant has increased. Peripheral Blood Stem Cells (PBSC) have replaced bone marrow as the stem cell source of choice. Processing of products in a GMP clean room facility required a move to the National Blood Centre, obtaining a HPRA Tissue Establishment Licence (2008) and more recently JACIE accreditation. Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell therapy (2020) has been an exciting new treatment option for patients with the laboratory being a critical part of the CAR T manufacturing process. We completed 25 CAR T collections in the first year. Interactions with research and biopharma teams has enabled recent research developments. The prospect of in-hospital manufacturing of cellular therapies is the next frontier to enable faster delivery of cells for the patient and increase accessibility to an expensive treatment.
Nicola has been Scientific lead of the Cryobiology Laboratory service for the National Stem Cell Transplant Programme for 30+ years. A science graduate of Maynooth University (1990), she completed a PhD in the Haematology Department, St James Hospital as part of the transplant team. Transferring to the routine service in 1995, the laboratory has evolved from research base to a HPRA licenced GMP clean room facility performing 200+ transplants per year. In 2019 the service expanded to include National Adult CAR T cell therapy programme. A clinical Lecturer with Trinity College Dublin, Nicola has also lectured for TUD Dublin, and ATU. She recently established a new Cellular Therapy research group and supervises PhD, final year and MSc student projects.