Dr Qasim Rafiq

Visiting Senior Lecturer

Currently Senior Lecturer in Bioprocessing of
Regenerative, Cellular and Gene Therapy.

Dr Qasim Rafiq
Previously a Lecturer in Bioprocess Engineering at Aston University with a specific research focus on the manufacture, translation and commercialisation of cell, gene and tissue-based therapies. While at Aston, I established and led the Bioprocess Engineering Research Group, a new, multidisciplinary research area within the School of Life & Health Science focusing on biomanufacture of advanced therapeutics including cell, gene and tissue-based therapy.

During my time at Aston, I was 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 had also published 8 peer-reviewed research articles and book chapters (>15 in total) and was 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 a 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.

 2013 – PhD in Regenerative Medicine Bioprocessing, Loughborough University, UK (Funded by EPSRC and Lonza Cologne AG)
2008 – MEng (Hons) Biochemical Engineering, University College London (UCL), UK

2014 – PRINCE2® Practitioner, accredited by BCS
2015 – Business Analysis Practitioner, accredited by BCS
2015 – Green Belt in Lean Six Sigma, accredited by The Knowledge Academy

2015 – Change Management Practitioner, accredited by APMG

Jan 2017 -Present Senior Lecturer in Bioprocessing of Regenerative Cellular and Gene Therapy, UCL.

Feb 2015 - December 2016: Lecturer in Bioprocess Engineering, School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, UK
Feb 2013 – Feb 2015:  EPSRC E-TERM Landscape Research Fellow, Loughborough University, UK
Jun 2005 – Sep 2005:Assistant Reagents Technician, Genzyme Ltd, Kent, UK

BE2ITE – Introduction to Tissue Engineering (Module Leader) 

BE3BRM – Biotechnology and Regenerative Medicine (Module Leader)
BY3BT1 – Bioprocessing of New Therapeutics (Module Leader)
BI4109 – Applied Biotechnology (Module Leader)
BI4018 Cell Biology and Cell Culture (Lecturer)
BI4060 Stem Cell and Tissue Engineering (Lecturer)

BY2BT2 Biotechnology (Lecturer)

 I have been working in the field of Bioprocess Engineering for over 8 years, and recently my research has focused on the bioprocessing of stem cells for their use as cell therapy and regenerative medicine products. This has included both the upstream and downstream process development, with a particular focus on the use of stirred-tank bioreactors for the expansion and harvest of stem cells. Recent focus has shifted to understanding the underlying biological environment, how the cell interacts with and is affected by the culture conditions with the aim of utilising this information to make informed advancements for bioprocess development. The research area and skills are transferable to many other areas in biotechnology including microbial fermentation, monoclonal antibody production, industrial biotechnology and synthetic biology.
   Bioprocess development for advanced therapeutics (cell, gene and tissue-based products) including the manufacture, translation and commercialisation of these products for clinical use.

2016 - 2019 AUTOSTEM –  Development of closed, scalable and AUTOmated robotic systems for therapeutic STEM cell manufacturing: Funded by EU Commission (Horizon 2020), €6,000,000 (Aston Award €549,956 – Principal Investigator).

2016 - 2018 Establishment of a safe, robust, repeatable end-to-end process to produce stem cells for therapeutic use. Funded by InnovateUK KTP & Biovault Technical (Principal Investigator) £268,791 including company contribution.
2016 - 2018 Development of novel bioprocesses and vessels for optimal therapeutic protein and cell therapy production using the automated ambr250 bioreactor platform. Funded by InnovateUK KTP & Sartorius Stedim Biotech (Principal Investigator) £185,512 including company contribution.
2015 – 2016 Cell Microfactories: Feasibility Study in the Re-distributed Manufacture of Cells. Funded by EPSRC £84,458 (Aston Award £18.753 – Principal Investigator).
2015 – 2016 The Chronic Effects of UV Irradiation on Human Corneal Epithelial Cells. Funded by Johnson & Johnson (Co-Investigator) £44,250
2014 – 2017 Studentship in Synthetic Biology Bioprocessing. Funded by Loughborough University Graduate School. (Co-Investigator) £45,000
2014 – 2017 Mini Centre for Doctoral Training in Infectious Diseases. Funded by Loughborough University. (Co-Investigator) £154,577
2013 – 2015 ‘Engineering with the cell in mind’. EPSRC E-TERM Landscape Fellowship (Principal Investigator) £250,000

 Junaid Ali – Loughborough University (Co-Supervisor)

AMIChemE – Associate Member of the Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE)

Recent Publications