Qasim Rafiq
Senior Lecturer (Assistant Professor) Bioprocessing of Regenerative, Cellular and Gene Therapies,

I am currently a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Bioprocess Engineering at Aston University with a specific research focus on the manufacture, translation and commercialisation of cell, gene and tissue-based therapies. In my first 12 months as a Lecturer, I have established and lead the Bioprocess Engineering Research Group, a new, multidisciplinary research area within the School of Life and Health Science focusing on biomanufacturing of cell, gene and tissue-based therapy production.

Since joining Aston, I have been awarded 5 research grants (Principal Investigator on 4 of them) with a total award value of ~£1M from a variety of funding sources including RCUK, InnovateUK, EU Horizon2020 and direct commercial funding. During this period, I have published 8 peer-reviewed research articles and book chapters (>15 in total) and have been invited to present my research at key cell therapy and biomanufacturing conferences in Singapore, Sweden and The Netherlands. I have been appointed to the national committee of ESACT-UK, the UK Society for Cell Culture Biotechnology where I have assumed the role of General Secretary.

I graduated with an MEng in Biochemical Engineering from University College London (UCL) in 2008 before joining as part of the first cohort of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Regenerative Medicine at Loughborough. There I was awarded at PhD having completed my thesis on ‘Developing a standardised manufacturing process for the clinical-scale production of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs)’ using a litre-scale stirred-tank bioreactor. The PhD was in collaboration with Lonza Cologne AG.

Following the PhD and prior to my Lectureship at Aston University, I was awarded a £250k E-TERM Landscape Fellowship to focus on ‘Engineering with the cell in mind’ which developed a relevant small-scale bioreactor model for hMSC microcarrier culture in addition to furthering our understanding of hMSC culture through metabolomic analysis. The Fellowship was in collaboration with TAP Biosystems (now a Sartorius Stedim company). During the course of my PhD and Fellowship, I was awarded numerous oral presentation prizes including best presentation at the 1st EPSRC Manufacturing the Future conference and was shortlisted for the Malcolm Lilly award.