I studied for a BSc degree in physics, including a third year option of theoretical physics, in the early 1970s at Imperial College, London University. I then stayed on for a further three years to gain a PhD in experimental Solid State Physics before moving to Cambridge University for a 3 year post-doctoral research fellowship. My research activities in Cambridge focused on studies exploring properties of amorphous magnetic materials. I then joined Thorn-EMI, working in their Central Research Laboratory on the magnetic and superconducting properties of materials. During this phase of my career my interests in the biological and medical application of my physics knowledge grew, especially as I was working at the time alongside some of the pioneers of Computed Tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging.
In order to pursue these growing interests in relation to medical applications of technology I was successful in competing for an appointment working in the diagnostic imaging group at the Department of Health (DH) in England. My main responsibilities included managing R&D and evaluation projects in areas such as radiotherapy, computed tomography, MRI, and ultrasound.
After several years working at the DH, in 1988 I was successful in obtaining a two-year secondment to the Cabinet Office, working for the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor on science policy. During these two years I was responsible for setting up and acting as scientific secretary to a number of high level technical committees which included eminent leaders from industry, academia, and government. I was responsible for writing and publishing influential government reports on a range of topics including Developments in Biotechnology, Advanced Manufacturing Technologies, Medical Devices, and novel materials.
On returning to DH in 1990, I moved into a post in the R&D Directorate. Initially my responsibilities included leading on the establishment of the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme and a little later I then took a lead role in managing specific policy focused research in various clinical areas including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
I was appointed as DH Chief Research Officer for Public Health in 2003. This wide-ranging role covered health protection and health improvement and I was responsible for overseeing policy research in areas including antimicrobial resistance, eHealth and mHealth, risk, vCJD, genetics, skin cancer, air pollution, health care associated infection, new and emerging infections, obesity, substance abuse, hepatitis, and Less Invasive Autopsy. In 2006 I was additionally asked to take a lead in establishing the Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme as part of the NIHR R&D strategy. This dual role continued for a period of three and a half years until the i4i programme was up and running and well-established and leadership for this could be handed over.
Since the end of March 2012, when I chose to take an early exit from the Department of Health, I have been focused on one of my main interests – that of seeking to support promising innovations that have the potential to contribute to improved health and social care. For some of this time I have been acting as an independent consultant working with clinicians, universities, funding agencies and business. My aim has been to assist in the identification of effective and cost-effective innovative products and services, and to help identify ways to accelerate their translation into the healthcare sector.
I have also been on the Board of the South East Health Technology Alliance (SEHTA), and I currently act as an external technical assessor to both the European Commission and to Innovate UK.
In April 2014 I was appointed as part-time Director at the Bayswater Institute and continued in this role for a couple of years before subsequently taking on my current role as Executive Director for project development.
I was awarded an honorary Professorship by the University of West London (UWL) in 2011 and an honorary D.Sc. also by UWL in 2014.