Professor John Simpson
Dean of Translational Research & Professor of Respiratory Medicine
John Simpson is Dean of Translational Research and Professor of Respiratory Medicine at Newcastle University, and an honorary consultant chest physician in Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He is Director of the NIHR Newcastle In Vitro Diagnostics Co-operative (formerly the NIHR Newcastle Diagnostic Evidence Co-operative). His research interests largely focus on infection in critically ill patients, including the development of diagnostic tests for ventilator-associated pneumonia and sepsis.
Dr. Ian Newington
Acting Head of Special Projects
NIHR Central Commissioning Facility
Having led the NIHR i4i Programme Team until July 2017, Ian now heads up Special Projects and Medtech SME engagement in the CCF Innovations team. Alongside this, Ian also manages a portfolio of funded projects across i4i and Health Innovation Challenge Fund (HICF) as well as the contract for the NIHR Innovation Observatory in Newcastle. Prior to this, a DPhil in chemistry led to Ian joining Kodak, becoming a Principal Scientist in the European R&D labs, followed by 9 years at GE Healthcare Life Sciences, Imaging R&D, leading the Discovery portfolio for molecular imaging diagnostics in neurodegenerative disease. Ian joined the Innovation team at NIHR CCF in November 2014. Ian is a (co-) inventor on 38 patent applications.
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Group Manager – Devices Regulatory Affairs
Graeme is Group Manager for Devices Regulatory Affairs at the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). He is responsible for teams dealing with notified body oversight, clinical investigation approval, compliance investigations, borderline and classification issues and implementation of new EU medical device legislation.
Graeme has been a civil servant for 13 years and has spent his career working primarily on healthcare policy. He has previously held Deputy Director roles at the Department of Health and also spent 18 months as Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Health.
Graeme has a Master’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Oxford.
Senior Technical Adviser – Diagnostics Assessment Programme
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
Rebecca is the Senior Technical Adviser in the NICE Diagnostics Assessment Programme. She has been in the team since 2013, previously working as a Technical Analyst and a Technical Adviser. She joined NICE in 2012, initially working in the Medical Technologies Evaluation Programme.
Rebecca has a Masters of Public Health from the University of Manchester. Prior to joining NICE she spent several years working on NHS NIHR funded research projects investigating the use of new technologies in cervical screening.
Dr. Alex Buchan
Alex is a biologist by training. After completing a PhD in Microbiology he spent 3 years in the city working for UBS as a Stockbroker. He then moved into a series of commercial roles in early stage biotechnology companies. These included setting up and running the European arm of Strategic Diagnostics a NASDAQ quoted environmental testing company, and latterly Compugen, an Israeli Bioinformatics and drug discovery business also quoted on NASDAQ.
Alex Joined Northstar in 2004 to work on the inception of the Proof of Concept Fund, helping to make it one of the most successful investment vehicles of its kind in the country.
Since then Alex has worked across all the technology funds managed by Northstar, with responsibility for life science and green tech investments. He is also responsible for the management of the company’s involvement in the Ignite Accelerator programme, which takes start-ups through an intense mentoring and acceleration programme culminating in potential seed investment.
Dr. Penny Wilson
Senior Specialist - AMR Vaccines and Global Health
Innovate UK is the UK’s Innovation agency; its remit is to support businesses and grow the economy by stimulating innovation in science and technology.
As part of the Health & Life Science team, Penny focuses on Global Health, and in particular on antimicrobial resistance and vaccines (for both communicable and non-communicable diseases).
Penny also leads on most of Innovate UK’s diagnostic related activities for all therapeutic areas.
In discussion with industry, experts and key stakeholders in government and the third sector, Penny, with an internal team, has designed and delivered 18 competitions and supported 140 projects with an investment of £61.8m and an additional £31.2m from industry.
Penny has spent over 25 years in the Diagnostics Industry, in a variety of senior technical and strategic roles. In recent years, she has focused on all aspects of precision medicine, on diagnostic systems, from both a technical and societal perspective, and on the challenges of technology integration and adoption. Her expertise spans human, animal and plant diagnostics and she has considerable expertise in assessing the diagnostic and healthcare needs in both the developed and developing world.
Appointments have included Senior Director of Advanced Technology Development for a company developing diagnostic systems for the doctor’s office and Director of Technology Assessment and Acquisition for Siemens Healthcare. In Global Health Penny has advised the Bill & Melinda GATES Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the African Union.
Professor Mark Birch-Machin
Professor of Molecular Dermatology & Associate Dean of Business
Mark Birch-Machin, PhD, is Professor of Molecular Dermatology at Newcastle University (UK), Institute of Cellular Medicine and Associate Dean of Business Development for the Faculty of Medical Sciences.
He previously worked at Universities in Oregon, Paris and Toronto. He is a member of the Editorial Board of several international Dermatology Journals, and national/international advisory boards (including cosmetic companies) and grant committees for skin research and cosmetic regulation.
His research group (funded over 30 years by research councils, charities and commercial sources) focuses on the response of human skin to the environment (including ultraviolet radiation) particularly within the context of skin ageing. He has an interest in understanding the role of mitochondria in UV and environmental-induced oxidative stress, skin cancer and the relationship between oxidative stress, nutritional status, pigmentation and skin aging as well as the science and use of sunscreens.
He is also a co-inventor on multiple patents including the invention of a dermatology product that sold in over a 1,000 stores in Canada as part of a spin out company which Mark co-founded in 2003. He is also a co-founder of a second spin out company in 2012 called PB Bioscience.
Mark’s research is frequently featured in national and international print and broadcast media including, multiple European and American TV, radio and international newspapers and popular international beauty and lifestyle magazine articles.
Professor Tim Evans
National Director of Clinical Productivity
Timothy Evans qualified in 1979 at the University of Manchester, and underwent post registration medical training at the London postgraduate hospitals, and at the University of Sheffield where he completed a PhD. He undertook post doctoral research as an MRC travelling fellow at the University of California San Francisco, returning to London in 1985 and receiving further training in pulmonary and critical care medicine. Since 1987 he has been Consultant in Intensive Care & Thoracic Medicine, Royal Brompton Hospital, London; and from 1996 Professor of Intensive Care Medicine, Imperial College London.
He is currently National Director for Clinical Productivity at the Department of Health, a Trustee of the Nuffield Trust (2014- ) and Board member and Trustee of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine (2012- ). He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and has been honorary Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine to the Army since 1997.
He was Medical Director (2006-15) and Deputy Chief Executive (2008-15) and Director of Research & Development (2009-15) of the Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He was Lead Fellow for the Future Hospital Commission of the Royal College of Physicians (2012-2013) and Editor in Chief, Future Hospital Journal (2013-2016). He was Chair of the National Cardiac Benchmarking Collaborative (2014-2016), Academic Vice President of the Royal College of Physicians (2009-12), a Clinical Senior Investigator of the National Institute of Health Research (2010-2013) and Vice Dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine (2010-13).
Head of Pathology Services Consolidation
Leading the exciting change inspired by the Carter report, seeking to deliver efficiency and high-quality pathology services across England. Prior to this David held the position as Director of Operations at Viapath. He has a diverse experience of providing pathology services to primary, secondary and tertiary care across all pathology disciplines.
David trained at Addenbrookes Hospital qualifying in December 2000, followed by posts in a range of hospital, David was appointed as the Lead Healthcare Scientist for GOSH, covering the entire Healthcare Science workforce, the first person to hold this post.
David was elected as IBMS council member for the London Region. David has also represented the IBMS on NICE diagnostic advisory panels, and various national forums including an observer on the Royal College of Pathologist Council and in the Parliamentary and Science committee.
Thematic Session Speakers
Professor Mike Trenell
National Institute for Health Research Innovation Observatory
Mike is Director of the National Institute for Health Research Innovation Observatory and a former NIHR Senior Fellow. He has a specialist interest in health innovation – how new ‘things’ are developed in the healthcare sector and how they can implemented. A clinical scientist by training, he has worked significantly on how lifestyle influences lifelong health and wellbeing and chronic disease, particularly diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia and stroke. His NIHR funded research has been focussed on digital health and self-care where he has worked with several industrial and academic partners in the US and Europe. With the NIHR Innovation Observatory Mike is leading a team which is advising the NHS, NICE, academia, industry and government on the next generation of drugs, devices and services.
Dr Paul Brennan
Deputy Clinical Director
Integrated Laboratory Medicine, Newcastle Hospitals & Clinical Programme Director, North East & North Cumbria Genomic Medicine Centre
For the past 10 years Pauls clinical and research interests have focussed on transforming health care in preparation for the arrival of genomics, starting with relatively simple family history triage projects in secondary care. More recently ha has led the introduction of more advanced diagnostic sequencing technologies up to whole genome sequencing in patients with rare inherited dieases and common cancers. Paul is a strong advocate of collaboration and networking; these principles underpin his current leadership roles around developing modern genomic medicine service in England that allows us to deliver personalised medicine into routine health care settings. Paul teaches widely in the UK and overseas at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and has a keen interest in helping trainees understand the clinical application of genomics.
Professor Philip Sloan
Department of Cellular Pathology
Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Phil is a practicing pathologist specialising in head & neck, skin and bone & soft tissue pathology. He is co-director of the Newcastle MRC Molecular Pathology Node and Designated Individual for the NuTH HTA research licence. Phil graduated from Newcastle University in 1974, gained his PhD from the University of Bristol in 1978. He was Professor of Experimental Pathology at the University of Manchester and R&D Director of CMHT until 2007 when he returned to his home city of Newcastle to take up his present appointment.
Phil has authored or co-authored over 200 peer reviewed publications and five books. He was lead author in 2017 for the WHO classification for oral cancer.
His current interests are in translational research, particularly the development of companion diagnostic biomarkers, molecular pathology, sentinel node pathology and biobanking. Phil is particularly enthusiastic about working with industry partners as well as academic researchers, for patient benefit.
Mr Rakesh Heer
Consultant Surgeon and Senior Lecturer
Newcastle University and Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust
Rakesh Heer is a Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Urologist at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research and the Freeman Hospital. Having completed an MRC/Royal College of Surgeons of England PhD Studentship and higher surgical training in Newcastle, he became Senior Lecturer and CRUK Clinician Scientist Fellow in 2011. His clinical interests include the management and robotic surgery of prostate and bladder cancers. In addition he has a specialist interest in the treatment of male sexual dysfunction too. In parallel to his clinical work, he runs a research program spanning basic science and translational biology though to randomised clinical trials. He is chief investigator on a number of national clinical trials, including those looking at biomarkers in advanced prostate cancer (NIHR VARIANT) and a large Health Technology Assessment trial of photodynamic guided treatment in non-muscle invasive bladder (NIHR PHOTO). Rakesh has worked closely with Biosignatures, funded by Innovate UK, to develop innovative diagnostic products for patients with bladder and prostate cancer.
Sarah Leigh Nicholson BSc MSc FIBM
Laboratory Manager Cellular Pathology
The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Cellular Pathology department is one of the largest in the country delivering histology, cytology and post-mortem services. As Laboratory Manager I have overall responsibility for the team of Biomedical Scientists and Health Care Scientists and support staff to deliver optimal diagnostics for our service users. We work with our large team of Specialist Consultant Pathologists and offer a wide scope tissue diagnostics. In addition to our clinical workload we have the MRC grant funded Proximity Node Laboratory offering project and technical work to academic pathologists, University and Commercial and Industrial users.
I have been a Biomedical Scientist since 2001 and trained within Northumbria University and the Department I now lead. I worked within Cellular Pathology at Newcastle initially for 10 years, working as a Senior Biomedical Scientist for the children’s cancer and leukaemia group (CCLG) facilitating paediatric neuropathology biological study research, tissue banking and clinical trial review. This work has successfully allowed real time molecular diagnostics for children on a number of paediatric clinical trials. I left Newcastle in Spring 2011 to work at Great Ormond Street Hospital, bridging both research and diagnostics in a specialist hospital. From there I decided to take the path of Laboratory Management and worked with Great Western Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Swindon. I returned to the North East (Home!) November 2016 following the retirement of our established managers and I am enjoying the role of leading an exemplar team delivering our pathology service through the ongoing challenges within the NHS. Having the MRC Proximity Node and CEPA Biobank within Cellular Pathology is a key development that I am enthusiastic to participate in and look towards building upon future ventures.