This week Jane, Director of the Translational Research Office (TRO), talks about developing solutions to unmet medical needs, and new support for Early Career Researchers.
What is your role and what does it involve?
I can truly say that I have one of the most privileged positions in the University. As Director of the Translational Research Office (TRO), I get to work with the best scientific minds that conceive amazing solutions to some of the most devastating diseases and unmet medical needs of our time.
My role is to inform and deliver the strategy, organisational culture, capability and processes necessary to deliver the UCL and our three NIHR Biomedical Research Centre’s mission of "Accelerating translation for health and wealth". The cornerstones of the strategy are 1) to nurture novel therapies, devices and diagnostics from across UCL and its partner hospitals into projects attractive for translational funding or further development with partners, 2) provide access to complementary capacity, expertise and skills in translational science 3) understand and address bottlenecks to accelerate translation 4) share knowledge of therapeutic translation across the career spectrum.
I am fortunate to lead a group of highly talented applied scientists within the TRO all with significant industry, biotech and academic research experience, who do all the hard work in helping this come to fruition.
How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
I have been at UCL for just over 10 years. The TRO was formed with two other colleagues in 2010 and has since grown (through successful grant applications) to a team of 24. Prior to UCL, I worked for 16 years in drug discovery roles at GlaxoSmithKline, providing strategic leadership on translational work and clinical research programmes leading multidisciplinary research teams working on neuro and inflammatory projects on multiple targets.
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my tremendous team who display daily a shared passion with our researchers and collaborators for advancing projects to make a real difference to patients.
Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list
Top of the list is encouraging engagement/participation in biomedical translation with our early career researchers (ECRs). Part of our strategy is to share knowledge and experience through our Therapeutic Innovation Networks (TINs) and to address education needs though our recently awarded Wellcome Trust Translational Partnership Award. The team are currently meeting with ECR’s to seek feedback on the new support currently being developed (pilot data scheme, educational courses and workshops/sandpits etc.). We will be highlighting this range of support at a launch event on Tuesday 21st January 2020. Please look out for details in the coming month.
What is your favourite album, film and novel?
That is difficult as I like what I’m listening to, reading or watching now so I have given two answers....
Album: Fleetwood Mac - Rumours and more recently Dua Lipa - Dua Lipa
Film: West Side Story and more recently Hidden Figures
Novel: Little Women - Louisa M Alcott and more recently The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce
What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?
I’m terrible at telling jokes but even I can get this one across...
"How do you make an octopus laugh?"
Who would be your dream dinner guests?
Tom Kerridge to cook, Janice Robinson to select the wines, Elton John to provide the music with additional guests being Jonathan Agnew, Betty Boothroyd, Idris Elba, Peter Kay, Andy Murray and Darcey Bussell. Quite a mix!
What advice would you give your younger self?
Time moves quickly so cherish every opportunity to spend it with friends and family
What would it surprise people to know about you?
I am a sports fanatic, playing and watching it. I play competitive hockey every weekend through the autumn and winter and am an avid Radio 5-Live as well as Test Match Special listener.
What is your favourite place?
I collect favourite places, therefore the last place I visited is my current favourite - Yellowstone National Park.