Cell Technology Group

Group Overview

The Cell Technology group in NIBRT focuses on the development of bioprocesses using mammalian cells for the production of recombinant proteins, monoclonal antibodies and viral vaccines. We are particularly interested in the bioprocess conditions that can be used to control the biochemical structure of glycoproteins and hence the quality of biopharmaceuticals. We have a number of active collaborations with academic and industry partners.

Present projects in the CTG include the following:

  • The development of high-productivity culture media by the analysis of plant-based hydrolysates
  • The application of optical methods to monitor cell growth and foam development that can occur in highly aerated cultures
  • The application of biocapacitance to monitor cell growth and changing metabolic status of cells
  • The control and selectivity of specific antibody glycoforms that are required for therapeutics of high efficacy.
  • High-throughput and high-sensitivity profiling of recombinant protein glycosylation

Team Members

Principal Investigator

  • Michael Butler

Research Team

Dr Yongjing Xie

Dr Laura Breen

Dr James Flynn

Dr Elizabeth Matthews

Dr Neha Tushar Dalvi

Dr Thaïs McNamara

The Cell Technology Group Team

Michael Butler

Principal Investigator - Cell Technology Group

Michael Butler is a Principal Investigator at the National Institute of Bioprocessing Research & Training (NIBRT), Adjunct Full Professor in University College Dublin and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the University of Manitoba, Canada.   He holds degrees in Chemistry and Biochemistry from the Universities of Birmingham, London (UK) and Waterloo (Canada). After a period of several years as Principal Lecturer in Biotechnology at Manchester Metropolitan University Dr. Butler was appointed as Professor and NSERC/Apotex Industrial Research Chair in Fermentation Technology in the Department of Microbiology, University of Manitoba.


In 2008, he was named Distinguished Professor and in 2010 became Scientific Director of MabNet, an NSERC-funded national network focused on platform processes for monoclonal antibody production.  His other appointments have included Associate Dean of Scientific Research at Manitoba and Visiting Scientist at MIT (USA), Animal Virus Research Institute (Pirbright, UK) and the Universities of Oxford and Rio de Janeiro.


His research focuses on the development of bioprocesses using mammalian cells for the production of recombinant proteins, monoclonal antibodies and viral vaccines.  He is particularly interested in the bioprocess conditions that can be used to control the biochemical structure of glycoproteins and hence the quality of biopharmaceuticals.  He has always collaborated closely with industry and is a past recipient of the Canadian National Synergy Award for University-Industry innovation.  He has been President of the International Society for Protein Expression in Animal Cells (PEACe) and on the editorial board of several journals and major reference works including Encyclopedia of Cell Technology, Biotechnology Advances, Biotechnology and Bioengineering and Comprehensive Biotechnology.


He is the founder of Biogro Technologies Inc., a spin-off company dedicated to serum-free media development.  He has authored several books on mammalian cell technology and over 200 scientific articles (with > 6,000 citations).

Books on Bioprocessing authored and edited by M.Butler

  • Butler, M. (Ed) 2007 Cell Culture and Upstream Processing. 187 pages publ. Taylor & Francis.
  • Butler, M. 2004 Animal Cell Culture and Technology 2nd edition 256 pages publ. Bios Scientific, Oxford.
  • Butler,M. 1996. Animal Cell Culture and Technology 114 pages Oxford University Press
  • Butler, M. and M.M. Dawson (eds). 1992. Cell Culture: Labfax 268 pages publ. Bios Scientific, Oxford.
  • Butler, M. (Ed.) 1991. Mammalian Cell Biotechnology: A Practical Approach 245 pages; Oxford Univ. Press. Butler, M. 1987. "Animal Cell Technology: Principles and Products" 180 pages Open University Press. 
  • Castilho, L., Moraes, A., Augusto, E. & Butler, M. (Eds) 2008. “Animal Cell Technology: from Biopharmaceuticals to Gene Therapy” 21 Chapters 518 pages publ. Taylor & Francis.


View Publications

Group Research Areas

Glycoengineering and glycoanalysis of biotherapeutics produced in mammalian cells

Agilent Technologies continues to provide support for a study on a unique fluorescent label that allows high-throughput and high-sensitive profiling of glycosylation.  The application of this analysis has allowed us to map the evolution of COVID-19 spike protein variants as well as analyse a panel of COVID-19 infected human serum to determine any changes from normal controls.  This work which is led by Dr Yongjing Xie has allowed several publications in peer-reviewed international journals as well as provided webinars and application notes for Agilent’s website.

The role of protein hydrolysates in cell culture media during the commercial manufacture of biotherapeutics

This project, supported by the Kerry Group in collaboration with ValitaCell, will investigate the bioactivity and content of various protein hydrolysates on the productivity of cell-based bioprocesses.  The hydrolysates are highly complex chemically, and we have shown their ability to support both the growth and specific antibody productivity of host cells.  Dr Sandra Roche is the lead senior research scientist in this project, with support from research associate Thais McNamara.

Method development for the control of critical quality attributes of monoclonal antibodies by glycoengineering

This project is a collaboration with GlycoSelect, a Dublin-based company that is interested in the selection of specific glycoform antibodies based on an array of prokaryotic lectins.  This work extends the CTG expertise in glycoengineering with the goal of preparing and isolating monoclonal antibodies with targeted structures and properties.  Elizabeth Matthews is the lead post-doctoral scientist in this research, along with research associate Neha Dalvi.


Application of advanced optical systems for monitoring and control of mammalian cell bioprocesses

This collaboration with JM Canty International Ltd. involves the application of optical systems for monitoring bioprocesses.  The Pharmaflow high-resolution cell monitoring enables the continuous identification of cells at different stages of a bioprocess.  This work also involves an evaluation of the BioCam with the ability to monitor and control foam that can arise from excessive sparging in a bioreactor.  Laura Breen and James Flynn lead this research.


Our research is based on strong collaborations with industry partners that include Agilent, GlycoSelect, Canty, Kerry, ValitaCell, Advanced Instruments and Aber Instruments.  Our collaborations extend to industry and academic partners in Ireland, the USA, Canada and the UK.

Featured Research Publications

Contact the Research Team

For Cell Technology Group queries, please contact the Principal Investigator Michael Butler michael.butler@nibrt.ie