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Scientific Advisory Board

Professor Simon Rule

Professor Rule is currently a consultant in Derriford Hospital, Plymouth where he is head of the lymphoma service and runs all clinical trial work. He is also Professor in Haematology at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry. He is a member of the National Cancer Research Network (NCRN) lymphoma working party and chairs the low grade sub-group. He sits on the clinical trials committee of both Cancer Research UK and Leukaemia and Lymphoma research. He is currently the Associate Medical Director for R&D at Derriford Hospital. His major interests are lymphoma and new drug development. His specific area of interest is in mantle cell lymphoma and he has a research team looking at various aspects of this disease. He is currently the principal investigator for a number of phase I, II and phase III lymphoma studies being conducted at local, network and national level. He has published more than 70 papers.

Professor Neil Avent

Professor Avent is the Head of School Biomedical and Healthcare Sciences, School of Biomedical & Healthcare Sciences (Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry)

His Specialties include Transfusion medicine - Molecular basis of blood groups, Rh blood group system. High-throughput genotyping for blood group status. Red cell structure and function especially relating to red cell turnover. Non-invasive prenatal diagnosis, and identification of new biomarkers for aneuploidy screening. Methods for free fetal DNA enrichment, and depletion of maternal DNA from maternal plasma.

Professor Avent has considerable experience of International level research and teaching at the academic-healthcare interface, having worked in the NHS and at UK/US Universities. He has a demonstrable track record in delivering basic research into clinical practice, notably DNA-based blood grouping and non-invasive prenatal diagnosis. He also has an expanding portfolio of patents, most recent a series of novel biomarkers for Down syndrome from maternal plasma.

Professor Oliver Hanemann

Director Institute Translational & Stratified Medicine (Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry), Associate Dean Research

His focus is on neuromuscular disease esp. motor neuron disease and neuro-oncology. Trained at Medical School in Hamburg, Glasgow, Johns Hopkins and Harvard. After a DFG research fellowship in molecular neurobiology, in which he cloned the myelin protein PMP22 together with P Spreyer, he was neurology registrar at Medical School in Dusseldorf with Prof Freund. During that period he participated in resolving gene-defect and pathogenesis of the most frequent hereditary neuropathy CMT1A, became lecturer for Neurology and Neurobiology and honorary consultant at that department in 1998 and started work on benign glial tumours. From 2000 he was consultant including clinical lead and senior lecturer at the medical school in Ulm with Prof Ludolph continuing his work on benign glia tumours and neuropathies focusing more on motor neuropathies. During that time he was also trained as a medical geneticist. In 2005 he became chair of clinical neurobiology at the Peninsula medical school establishing clinical neurobiology research and administering different independent researcher groups. He successfully bridge basic and clinical sciences. He has been Associate Medical Director for R&D Plymouth Hospital NHS Trust and Academic lead department of Neurology PHNT

His role at PU PSMD is Director of the Institute for Translational and Stratified Medicine where his remit is to champion research across traditional boundaries and focus on world-leading research.

Nationally the neurology lead in the Peninsula Neuro-oncology network, member NCRI brain tumour group and DeNDRON, (currently research director MND in the SW) member of scientific advisory boards (e.g. CTF, Lord Dowding Fund, Brain Research Trust), member of the council of the British Neuro-Oncology Society (BNOS). He is a reviewer for more than 17 international journals including Brain, Cancer Res, Oncogene and Human Mol Gen, and reviewer for a variety of granting agencies including Wellcome, MRC, CR-UK and DFG.

Dr Hannah Hunter

A consultant haematologist in Derriford hospital - Plymouth, a large tertiary referral centre for the Peninsula and teaching hospital. A special interest in bone marrow transplantation and the management of acute leukaemia and multiple myeloma. As part of a team of 6.5 consultants she has general haematology duties as well as clinical and laboratory on call commitments.

For the last nine years she have been one of two consultants managing a multidisciplinary team involved in the care of patients undergoing allogeneic and Autologous stem cell transplantation. This includes a clinical unit, a stem cell collection unit – both by apheresis and bone marrow harvesting, and a stem cell processing team. She is the JACIE Programme Director.        

From April 2008 she have acted as a medical consultant to Biovault .This was formalised to becoming its Medical Director in January 2009

Dr Irene Martini

Irene is the Scientific Director of SmartBank and Nanog International, two sister companies operating worldwide in the stem cell field. After her degree in Biology she obtained a PhD in the “Sapienza” University, Department of Cellular Biology and Embryology at Rome and in Sciences Medicales at the Hopital Necker “Enfants Malades” Paris.

Irene has taken part in several European Union and World Health Organisation (WHO) international research projects in collaboration with the Institut Pasteur in Paris. Irene has been teaching Scientific Communication for three years for a Master Class in Scientific Journalism and Communication and for a High School on Research Enhancement & Development at the University “Sapienza”. Irene is in an advisor for the Scientific Board of The Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Organisation

Kate Sneddon

Kate is the Operations Director at Biovault which she joined in July 2009.  Prior to this she studied Microbiology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne where she gained a first class honours degree.  On completion of her degree she joined GlaxoWellcome (now GlaxoSmithKline) as a Graduate Microbiologist on the companies Graduate Development Programme.  After this 2 year Programme, she became Microbiology Team Manager at one of GSKs manufacturing facilities.  Kate worked for GSK for 10 years and held a number of positions including Lean Sigma Expert, New product Project Manager and Value Stream Leader. Her experience in Pharmaceutical development and manufacture has allowed her to apply a lot of this knowledge to Biovault.  She has day to day responsibility for the operational facility and all associated staff.   

Dr Joanna Tilley

Joanna joined Biovault in June 2009 as Scientific Director. After obtaining a PhD in cell separation techniques, she was invited to set up the National Islet Transplant Laboratory in Australia. Following the successful opening of this facility she returned to the UK to set up the clinical islet isolation laboratory at Leicester General Hospital and a bio-artificial liver research project. In 2002 she became the UK manager for Future Health Technologies (now Future health Biobank) and set up the facility in Nottingham. She was then invited to join Virgin Health Bank in 2006, as the Scientific Director and was part of the team responsible for setting up the company and launching its services. She then joined Biovault as the Scientific Director. Her role has now changed to being the Technical Director, Joanna is also Biovault’s Designated Individual for the Human Tissue Authority and the Processing Facility Director for JACIE.  

Dr David Cope

David graduated from Clare College Cambridge in Natural Sciences and went on to do an MPhil in Birkbeck College London and a PhD in University College Cardiff in decision making. He then worked in both the academic and industrial worlds with Rolls Royce and a senior researcher role with University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology, during which time he published a book on organisational change. Following that he went on to work in management consultancy, specialising in the pharmaceutical sector and then for Rhone Poulenc.

He found his niche as an independent consultant, working on a diverse range of projects from strategic reorganisation and subsequent sale of a media business, to the cost repositioning of a major glass manufacturer and onward as an entrepreneur founding, developing, advising and investing in a range of businesses. He has been a Director of Biovault since 2012. 

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