Health and Life Science Sector Advisory Panel - Meet Belfast

The Ambassador Circle Health and Life Science Advisory Panel will help inform Visit Belfast decision making on target business events that could be attracted to Northern Ireland within the health and life science sector. Advising Visit Belfast on new business event opportunities that could be targeted for Northern Ireland and providing sector insight, market intelligence and advice on bids within their sector. While also championing business events and Northern Ireland as a business events location within their networks of influence.

Chris Scott (Feb2020v1)
Chris Scott (Feb2020v1)

Professor Chris Scott

Director of the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research

Chris Scott is Director of the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB).  Following a primary degree in Biochemistry he undertook a PhD and post-doctoral training at Queen’s in molecular enzymology.

In 2001, Chris was one of the founding members of QUB spinout company Fusion Antibodies Ltd., before returning to Queen’s in 2003 to take up an academic position. Chris is internationally renowned for his work in development of antibody and nanomedicine-based therapies for the treatment of cancer and other conditions. Work in his laboratory is funded by agencies such as Medical Research Council, HSCNI, and various industrial sources such as AstraZeneca, Immunocore and Aviceda Therapeutics.

Chris held a Royal Society Industrial Fellowship with GSK from 2012-15, and won the Vice Chancellor’s Prize for Innovation in 2015 with his group’s work on developing a novel nanomedicine for the treatment of sepsis and other inflammatory conditions. Chris is actively involved in nanomedicine across the UK and is a Trustee of the British Society of Nanomedicine.   Chris is a member of the MRC Developmental Pathway Funding (DPFS) panel.

Stuart Elbornjpg
Stuart Elbornjpg

Professor Stuart Elborn


Professor Elborn is a well-established international leader in healthcare having driven major changes in healthcare delivery in the field of cystic fibrosis and bronchiectasis.

Prior to taking up his current post at Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Elborn was Clinical Professor of Respiratory Medicine/Consultant Physician and Director of Adult Cystic Fibrosis and Chronic Lung Infection at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College and Royal Brompton Hospital London.

He has spent decades researching Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and his work has led to major breakthroughs in treating the condition. In all his research, Professor Elborn endeavours to bring scientists and clinicians together to promote inter-disciplinary research. He has been successful in developing programmes of research across disciplines, hospitals and universities in Northern Ireland as well as across the UK and Europe.

In 2013 he received a CBE for services to healthcare in Northern Ireland.


Professor Usha Chakravarthy

Professor of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences

Usha Chakravarthy is Professor of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences in the Queen’s University of Belfast.  She has published extensively in the management of retinal disorders and has a varied portfolio of research interests having explored the cell and molecular biology of the retina and its vasculature for many decades.  Her work also extends to the epidemiology and risk factors for retinal diseases and her present  research is focussed on the relationships between retinal morphology and function based on invivo high resolution imaging and deep functional testing.  These in vivo studies also provide fodder for machine learning  and gene association investigations .  She has delivered many eponymous and other invited lectures in the UK and abroad was honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List with the award of Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to Ophthalmology and voluntary service to managing eye conditions.

In May 2019 Professor Usha Chakravarthy was recognised as a World Expert in Macular Degeneration having been placed in the top 0.1% of scholars writing about Macular Degeneration over the past 10 years.

Frances Weldon (225x225)
Frances Weldon (225x225)

Dr. Frances Weldon

STEM Outreach Manager

Dr Frances Weldon is STEM Outreach Manager at Almac Group.  Her role is focussed on promoting Almac and enhancing understanding of job opportunities through delivery of Almac’s Outreach Strategy and providing input to skills training programmes and curriculum development across all education sectors. She has led initiatives such as Almac’s Pathway® programme at W5 and Almac’s Virtual Work Experience Hub to inform and inspire post-primary pupils about careers in the pharmaceutical industry.

Frances graduated from Dublin City University with a 1st Class B.Sc. (Hons) in Analytical Science and then a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry.  Before taking up her current role, she worked in Almac Sciences’ Analytical Department for 12 years and held teaching and research support roles in Dublin City University and Queen’s University Belfast.

Jim McLaughlin.msg
Jim McLaughlin.msg

Professor James McLaughlin

Director of Ulster University's NIBEC and Head of School

Professor James McLaughlin is the Director of Ulster University’s Nanotechnology and Integrated-Bioengineering Centre (NIBEC) as well as Head of School of Engineering. A Fellow of the Institute of Physics and the Irish Academy of Engineering, he was awarded an OBE for his services to Research and Economic-Development. He is a Senior Distinguished-Fellow and his world-leading Digital-Healthcare-Technology research addresses nanotechnology and it’s application in areas such as cardiac point-of-care-sensors and medical-diagnostics.

Professor McLaughlin with a H-Index of 45, over 300 publications, 35 patents and has attracted over £70m of funding to establish research that has led to the establishment of NIBEC, CHIC, NICAM, NanotecNI, ECME, Biodevices Lab and BEST and is a co-founder of various successful companies including the wireless-patient-monitoring company Intelesens, SiSaF and the initial phases of Heartsine. He also led the successful global Xprize Tricorder Zensor team to overall 3rd position and has developed a wide range of industrial and international academic collaborations particularly in the areas of cardiovascular monitoring and therapies. He is currently heading up the new Belfast City Region Deal – Centre for Digital Healthcare Technologies.

Tara Moore1
Tara Moore1

Professor Tara Moore

Professor of Personalised Medicine

Professor of Personalised Medicine, concurrently holds a chair at Ulster University in Northern Ireland and is Chief R and D Officer at Avellino USA in Menlo Park San Francisco USA

Tara has a wealth of experience of working in Universities and industrial laboratories, focusing on development of partner diagnostics and treatments across a wide range of diseases.She has contributed to numerous textbooks and authored over 120 peer reviewed publications in high impact peer reviewed journals.

Most recently she was a double awardee for the Ophthalmologist’s Power List 2019 categories of Emerging Leaders and Inventors, THE Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year 2020 and the American Embassy – Royal Irish Academy US-Ireland Research Innovation awardee 2020.

Tara Moore BSc (1st Hons) PhD NTF FHEA FFFLM RCP FRSB FRSM FRSA WISE Ambassador

Rob Grundy
Rob Grundy

Dr Robert Grundy

Founder and Director

Dr Robert Grundy has spent over 20 years in Pharma and Biotech beginning in drug discovery and development at Schering-Plough and GlaxoSmithKline. Rob served as CSO with Cerebricon before becoming a founding member of Almac Discovery in 2008, contributing significantly to the establishment and growth of the business.

In 2014 Rob founded Anglezarke Life Sciences, a commercialisation and growth strategy consultancy. Rob has served as CEO of ReVana Therapeutics, CIGA Healthcare and Health Innovation Research Alliance Northern Ireland. Rob currently serves as VP of MIRA Life Science Ventures and Chairs Matrix,  the Science and Technology policy panel for the Northern Ireland Government.


Bob D. Ladner
Bob D. Ladner

Bob D. Ladner

Founder, Chief Executive Officer

Robert D. Ladner, PhD was appointed to the post of Reader in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast in 2015.

Dr. Ladner was awarded his MSc and PhD from Rutgers University/The University of Medicine and Dentistry New Jersey, where he performed his graduate research. It was during this time that Dr. Ladner identified and characterized the sequence of human dUTPase and its variants and was among the first to unravel the complex mechanisms and cellular consequences of the uracil-DNA misincorporation pathway and the mechanisms of resistance to a class of chemotherapies known as thymidylate synthase (TS) inhibitors. This was closely followed by the first report of a strong association between dUTPase overexpression and clinical resistance to 5-fluorouracil in colorectal cancer.

In 2004, Dr Ladner was subsequently recruited to the post of Assistant-Professor at the University of Southern California Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center where he initiated a collaborative drug development strategy to develop novel chemotherapeutics targeting uracil-DNA repair and to develop new synthetic lethal strategies that exploit the uracil-DNA misincorporation pathway during treatment with TS inhibitors. In 2014 Dr. Ladner became Founder and CEO of CV6 Therapeutics, a drug development company dedicated to developing novel treatments to improve the effectiveness of currently approved cancer drugs and inflammatory conditions.

peter hamilton2
peter hamilton2

Peter Hamilton

Chief of Staff and European Director

Peter Hamilton previously has been Business Lead for Philips Digital Pathology in Belfast, United Kingdom. He was Professor of Pathology Imaging and Informatics in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University Belfast. His research interests include digital pathology, computer vision, tissue bioimaging, and the high-throughput analysis of novel tissue and cell biomarkers.

Joann Rhodes Pic
Joann Rhodes Pic

Joann Rhodes


Joann started her career as a cellular pharmacologist and industry fellow at Imperial college developing novel immunomodulation therapies for COPD, delivering clinical biomarker rationale for 4+ novel therapeutics to accelerate progression to the clinic. Since 2011, Joann has sought to facilitate industry-academic partnerships delivering the £16M US-UK Pfizer Rare Diseases Consortium for collaborative commercialisation of small molecule and gene therapy programmes, and as Chief of staff, at Merck UK R&D Laboratories (2018-2020), to realise the start-up vision for the new collaborative £1.3B UK R&D Innovation laboratories for Neurodegeneration at The Francis Crick Institute, in London.

Joann’s current role as Chief Executive of HIRANI provides support to accelerate collaborative health research and innovation from the lab-clinic-patient-home. She connects knowledge with opportunities to drive health & prosperity for the citizens of Northern Ireland, the health services and the wider, global health and life sciences economy. She also holds advisory positions at TopMD, Discovery Park, and the British Pharmacological Society.


WhatsApp Image 2021 11 02 at 3.39.43 PM
WhatsApp Image 2021 11 02 at 3.39.43 PM

Jennifer Neff

Co-Founder and CEO

Jennifer is passionate to end avoidable health inequalities. She set up Elemental Software in 2013
with Leeann Monk to connect people, build communities and improve lives. The pair created the
Elemental platform designed to establish, scale, and measure the uptake and impact of the social
prescribing model of care, a more than medicine approach to health and social care.
Elemental is an award winning tech for good company based in Derry that employs over 30 people
and that was acquired in 2021 by The Access Group.
Jennifer strives to spread the word about social prescribing, the difference it makes to people’s
lives, communities, and the health and social care sector.
As the leading digital social prescribing software provider in the UK, Elemental is bridging the gap
between health, housing, the VCSE (voluntary, community and social enterprise) sector, education, local government, and prison services. With a range of digital solutions designed to enable the strategy and practice of self-care and independence, and ultimately help people find their passions.
Over 750 social prescribing hubs use Elemental across England, Scotland, Wales and the Island of
Ireland. Jennifer believes social prescribing is a powerful route out of health inequality and to ultimately improve lives.

Professor Aaron Peace
Professor Aaron Peace

Professor Aaron Peace

Director of Research and Development WHSCT

Professor Peace is a practicing Cardiologist, and Director of Research and Development at the Western Health and Social Care Trust. He is a Visiting Professor for the Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified (Personalised) Medicine. He trained in Queen’s University, Belfast before working in Sydney and then Dublin where he undertook Cardiology training while completing a PhD. He completed a Fellowship in OLV Heart Centre in Belgium before moving back to Northern Ireland via Dublin. Professor Peace is a member of various regional initiatives related to research and innovation in Northern Ireland including the HSC NI Digital Innovation Steering Group, the Honest Broker Governance Committee, NI Trusted Research Environment, NI Biobank and NI Clinical Research, Recovery Resilience and Growth committee. On an international level he is a Guest Editor on the Editorial Board of the European Heart Journal – Digital Health and reviewer for many international peer reviewed scientific journals. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and a Fellow of the European Society of Cardiology. Professor Peace is the CEO of C-TRIC, a non-for-profit company that facilitates research delivery for the health service, industry and academic investigators. He is the clinical lead within the THRIVE innovation project in the Derry/Londonderry City Deal. His special interests include Cardiovascular risk prediction using Artificial Intelligence, Omics, and Digital Healthcare.

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