06 June 2023

Under The Microscope: Episode 1 – Mhairi Anderson

mhairi edit

Reflections on 6 months in post

In the first of the new Diagnostics North East “Under the microscope” series, Mhairi Anderson reflects on her first 6 months in post as the Operations Manager for Diagnostics and Therapeutics North East and shares her plans for the months ahead.

Hi Mhairi.  Congratulations on your first 6 months in post. Can you introduce yourself and give me an overview of your role?

I am the Operations Manager for both Diagnostics (Dx) and Therapeutics (Tx) North East.  It’s my role to lead the development of our diagnostics and therapeutics strategy in the region.   This involves working across all our partner organisations, in Newcastle University, Newcastle Hospitals and the Academic Health Science Network NENC, to ensure streamlined service support for developers, with clearly defined, easily accessible routes for service..  More broadly, DxNE and TxNE aim to work across the region, so it is my job to expand our network and raise the profile of the North East as a leader in both fields.

What have you been working on for the last 6 months? 

DxNE Conference 2023

The last 6 months have been busy! My first task in post was to arrange the DxNE 2023 annual conference  – held at The Catalyst, on 17th March 23.  Event planning was a significant undertaking; however, the event was a huge success, with over 150 delegates attending on the day, a diverse and interactive agenda, and a stunning venue. A highlight of the day was certainly the buzz, and the fantastic conversations that were had. Many of these are being taken forwards now!

Since March, I have been very busy getting to know our teams, local spin outs, and our key support network across the region, including Invest Newcastle, BioNow, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).  We have discussed the unmet needs and key challenges facing the sector and considered how we can best deliver our services to address these.  I have also attended events and been introduced to many organisations who are looking to set-up or relocate to the area and spoken to them about the benefits of doing so.   A key aspect of this involves working with our local business and partnership teams in Newcastle University and Newcastle Hospitals, to discuss how we can best engage with industry.

What excites you about the role?

Venture Fest, May 2023

AHSN Pledge Event, March 2023

The sheer wealth of expertise we have on our doorstep, and the passion of the people I talk to.  It is so exciting seeing first-hand the levels of innovation we have in place and to hear the enthusiasm and commitment of everyone to work together.  Recent meetings across our city, including RDF23 at The Sage in Gateshead, VentureFest, The AHSN-NENC Health & Life Sciences Pledge Event, have also really showcased our region and what a vibrant and dynamic place it is to live.


What are the main challenges?

With the excitement of having a huge infrastructure comes the challenges of bringing it all together!  Working cross-organisationally, and cross-regionally, there are very complex ecosystems in place, which can be difficult to navigate.  The first challenge is to first get to grips with this, before it can be clearly mapped out, and our full offering shared.  Feedback we’ve received from Industry is that they want us to “Hide the wires” – to package up our services into a clearly accessible, easily navigable package, to reduce diagnostic development time.  That is my goal!

What’s next?

In the coming months, I will be working closely with our steering group to refresh our strategy, taking time to reflect on our scope, reach and operating model for the future. I am also excited about presenting at Biofocus at the end of June. I am joining the ‘Develop it here’ panel, to share our story and explain why the region is a hotbed for diagnostic development. Our Partners from NovoPath and the North East Innovation Lab will also be there and ready to meet anyone who wants to discuss collaboration.

How can people get involved?

If anyone would like to know more about Diagnostics North East, please get in touch!  Our brochure is on our website, and we are very happy to talk to anyone that wants to help us shape our future.