- What does your work day look like in terms of tasks, meetings, strategy setting?
We meet as a team every morning to review projects. Sometimes that takes 5 minutes but often longer if we have to react to a new enquiry or changes there might have been on the clinical side. The days are changeable but centred around delivering on our current projects or setting up new ones evaluating tests.
- What are your areas of responsibility in your job role?
I have overall responsibility for running the North East Innovation Lab. We have a well-established set of services such as biobanking, sample collection and running independent evaluations of new and emerging diagnostic devices. We are looking to expand these services to meet the needs of the diagnostic industry so tests can receive the tailored support required though the development process.
- What has been your career path so far?
I studied genetics which led me into a PhD and research, trying to understand complex disease. I would have been doing restriction digests as the draft human genome was published. I moved from research to join what was then a small company, QuantuMDx, and spent 8 years there developing point of care molecular tests and technology. There were around 10 people when I started and it was amazing to go all the way from an idea to a product. I saw moving to the Innovation lab as way help other companies on their development journey and a way of getting new tests to labs and individuals.
- What motivates you in your role?
What I see across the diagnostics industry and the NHS is a genuine commitment to providing broad access to high quality diagnostics. So I’m motivated to provide IVD developers the services they need which will then lead to wider availability and uptake of better and better tests. It also not just about things that are highly novel. Innovation is incremental and you can’t predict where benefits will come from so it’s important to support a broad range of things.
- How can we build on the lessons learned from the pandemic to help the diagnostics industry in the future?
The diagnostics industry and services are mostly invisible to the general public. I think Covid-19 has made testing more tangible to people. People understand the importance of testing, the need for not only accuracy but usability too. I think people would like, and should be able to have, a more active role in managing their own health and making informed decisions. I also think that the pandemic increased tolerance for change, so we should maintain ways of trialling and implementing things quickly.
- What fuels you through the day – food and drink-wise?
I’ll have coffee and maybe toast before leaving the house. I’m taking an extended break from the supermarket meal deal and bringing my own sandwiches most days. Lunchtime is usually 12pm but most certainly not 1pm.
Read more about the Innovation Lab here.