Our people

Meet the MedCity team

MedCity team

Dr Eliot Forster
Executive Chair

Eliot has over 25 years’ experience in the biotech and pharmaceutical sectors. As well as his role at MedCity, Eliot is CEO of clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, F-Star Biotechnology Ltd, Chairman of Avacta plc. and visiting professor at the Universities of Liverpool and Paris, Italy.

Eliot holds a PhD in neurophysiology from Liverpool University and an MBA from Henley Management College.

Neelam Patel
Interim CEO

Neelam is MedCity's interim CEO, responsible for leading the team and operations, driving the strategy and relationships with key stakeholders and funders. She is also the lead for clinical trials, supporting companies seeking clinical and research expertise and collaborations.

Neelam has extensive experience in Pharma, R&D, NIHR service improvement & strategy.

Sarah Haywood
Executive Director

Sarah led MedCity for its first five years as CEO, helping position the greater south east of England as a world-leading, interconnected region for life sciences R&D, manufacturing and commercialisation. Sarah now acts as Executive Director for MedCity.

Sarah has a biology degree from the University of Oxford and was previously an NHS manager, Head of Operations for a neuroscience discovery unit, and led the DTI Bioscience Unit.

Phil Jackson
Projects Director

Phil is the go-to for businesses wanting to find workspace, equipment, expertise, and funding, in the region.

Previously, Phil held senior positions in Canadian healthcare; he led the development of the multi-million dollar Health Protection Agency and a re-design of Stroke prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services for a population of over 11m people.

Hak Salih
Digital Health Lead

Hak supports, connects and grows the digital health ecosystem from mentoring early stage ideas, and explaining the NHS, to connecting innovators and clinicians to corporates looking to collaborate.

Hak has over 20 years’ experience as an investor and supporter of entrepreneurs and innovation and is an award-winning mentor.

Tunde Omodare
Office Manager

Tunde is the first point of contact for MedCity and provides professional front door services to the team. He also assists and supports the delivering their programmes and project work.

Tunde has a BEng. Electronic Engineering with business management from the University of Birmingham.

Johanna Cronin
Communications Manager

Johanna leads on communications and PR for MedCity along with Franca Davenport, including media opportunities, digital content, events and stakeholder networks.

Johanna has 7 years’ experience working in communications, with a specific focus on the UK healthcare and global life sciences sectors.

Franca Davenport
Communications Manager

Franca leads on communications and PR for MedCity along with Johanna Cronin, including media opportunities, digital content, events and stakeholder networks.

Franca is an experienced science writer and communications professional with an extensive background working for universities, professional organisations and charities.

Elias Zapantis
Collaborate to Innovate Programme Manager

Elias leads the Collaborate to Innovate and Advanced Therapies Network programmes. He holds a BSc (Hons) in Biology - Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology - and an MSc in Healthcare Management.

Elias has experience in academic and industrial collaborations that drive the development of innovative health technologies.

Ross Wilkinson
Compliance and Projects Manager

Ross supports the running of MedCity's Collaborate to Innovate programme and day-to-day activities of the office; including events organising and finance.

Ross has a BSc. in Chemistry Management and Industry from the University of York.

Joana Neves dos Reis
Projects Manager - Angels in MedCity

Joana leads the Angels in MedCity programme; connecting life sciences companies and business angels and providing education on the sector and its investment opportunities.

Joana has a BSc and an MSc in Biochemical Engineering from Instituto Superior Técnico and is working towards a PhD in Biochemical Engineering (Regenerative Medicine) at UCL.

Christina Papadaki
Market Analyst

Christina's role is to provide insights and analysis of the life sciences sector in the UK and internationally. She conducts primary and secondary research, investigating market capabilities and investment trends.

Christina has a BSc in Psychology from Royal Holloway University of London, an MSc in Psychiatry from Cardiff University, and a PhD in Neuropsychology from UCL.

Management board

Sarah Haywood
Executive Director

Sarah led MedCity for its first five years as CEO, helping position the greater south east of England as a world-leading, interconnected region for life sciences R&D, manufacturing and commercialisation. Sarah now acts as Executive Director for MedCity.

Sarah has a biology degree from the University of Oxford and was previously an NHS manager, Head of Operations for a neuroscience discovery unit, and led the DTI Bioscience Unit.

Dr Eliot Forster
Executive Chair, MedCity

Eliot has over 25 years’ experience in the biotech and pharmaceutical sectors. As well as his role at MedCity, Eliot is CEO of clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, F-Star Biotechnology Ltd, Chairman of Avacta plc. and visiting professor at the Universities of Liverpool and Paris, Italy.

Eliot holds a PhD in neurophysiology from Liverpool University and an MBA from Henley Management College.

Dr Annalisa Jenkins
CEO, Dimension Therapeutics Inc

Dr. Annalisa Jenkins is a life sciences thought leader with over 25 years of biopharmaceutical industry experience. Dr. Jenkins served as CEO of Dimension Therapeutics, a gene therapy company that was acquired by Ultragenyx in 2017. Prior leadership roles have included the head of global research and development at Merck Serono. She currently serves on a number of public and private boards globally.

Professor Sir Robert Lechler
Executive Director, King’s Health Partners

Robert Lechler became Dean of Hammersmith Campus at Imperial College Faculty of Medicine in 2001 and Head of the Division of Medicine in 2003. He moved to King’s College London as Head of the School of Medicine at Guy’s, King’s College and St Thomas’ Hospitals in September 2004 and became Vice Principal (Health) at KCL in October 2005. In June 2009 he was appointed as Executive Director of King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre

Professor Jonathan Weber
Jefferiss Professor of Communicable Diseases, Imperial College London

Prof Weber is acting Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London and Director of the Imperial College AHSC. He trained at Cambridge University and St Bartholomew’s Hospital; took his PhD at the Institute of Cancer Research; and was a clinical senior lecturer in infectious diseases at the Royal Post-Graduate Medical School, before establishing a new academic Department of G-U Medicine on the St Mary’s campus in 1991.

Simon Kerry
Operating Partner, Advent Life Sciences LLP

Simon Kerry is a business professional with two decades’ experience of creating and developing innovative life science businesses. From joining Karus in 2006, he has grown the company from university spin-out to a leader in the development of innovative medicines with breakthrough potential in the treatment of inflammatory disease and cancer. In 2010 he co-founded Angels 4 Life Sciences (A4LS), a UK-wide life science focused angel network

Professor David Lomas
Vice Provost, Health, University College London

David became Chair of Medicine and Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at University College London in January 2013 and became Vice Provost, Health, in August 2015. He is Head of UCL Medical School and Deputy Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council and also Medical Trustee of the British Heart Foundation. His research interests are the pathobiology of α1-antitrypsin deficiency, the serpinopathies and COPD.

Advisory board

Professor Alan Barrell
Entrepreneur in Residence, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge

Alan Barrell is a biologist with experience in NHS medical technology, turned salesman turned businessman, entrepreneur and venture capitalist. He is Entrepreneur in Residence at the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, Visiting Professor at the University of Sunderland and in a number of universities in China, Finland and Japan

Professor Sir John Bell
Regius Professor of Medicine, Oxford University

Professor Sir John Bell FRS is Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University and Chair of the Office for the Strategic Coordination of Health Research. He was appointed one of two UK Life Sciences Champions by the Prime Minister in 2011 and is on the Genome England Ltd Board and chairs its Science Committee. In 1993 he founded the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics

Kate Bingham
Managing Partner, SV Life Sciences

Kate Bingham is one of the UK's leading life sciences venture capitalists. She currently serves or has served on the boards of companies in the UK, US, Ireland, Sweden and Germany. She has been responsible for past investments in Alantos, Auxilium, ESBATech, EUSA, Hexagen, Kinetix, KuDOS, Leukosite, Mednova, Micromet, PowderMed, RespiVert and current investments including Autifony, Bicycle, Convergence, Pulmocide, Oncoethix,TopiVert and VHSquared

Dame Ruth Carnall
Managing Parner, Carnall Farrar

As Chief Executive of NHS London, Ruth Carnall oversaw an extensive programme of performance improvement and strategic change. She has worked in the NHS for over 30 years and as an independent consultant with public and private sector clients including Department of Health, Monitor, Health Authorities, NHS Trusts, Glaxo, Astra Zeneca, the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, Cabinet Office, Home Office and Ministry of Justice

Sir William Castell
Former Chair, Wellcome Trust

Bill Castell was Chair of the Wellcome Trust from May 2006 to October 2015. He was previously President and CEO of GE Healthcare and a Vice-Chairman and latterly non-executive director of the General Electric Company (GE). He is the founding chair of the Foundation for FutureLondon, a new charity that has been created to help realise the potential of Olympicopolis and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Sir Malcolm Grant
Chair, NHS England

Sir Malcolm is a barrister and academic lawyer. From 2003-2013 he was President and Provost of University College London, has served as Chair of the Local Government Commission for England, the Agriculture and Environmental Biotechnology Commission and the Russell Group. He is also the former Chair of NHS England, which is responsible for the budget of the NHS in England.

Dr Hermann Hauser
Co-founder, Amadeus Capital Partners

Serial entrepreneur and Co-founder of Amadeus Capital Partners, Dr Hermann Hauser CBE has wide experience in developing and financing companies in the information technology sector. He co-founded a number of high-tech companies including Acorn Computers which spun out ARM, E-trade UK, Virata and Cambridge Network. As vice president of research at Olivetti, he established a global network of research laboratories.

Sir Harpal Kumar
CEO, Cancer Research UK

Harpal joined Cancer Research Technology Limited (CRT) as Chief Executive in October 2002 to drive forward the Charity's technology transfer and early drug discovery activities. In addition to his role with CRT, he became Chief Operating Officer of the charity in July 2004, responsible for strategic direction and day-to-day operational management, before becoming Chief Executive Officer in April 2007

Professor Sir Robert Lechler
Executive Director, King’s Health Partners

Robert Lechler became Dean of Hammersmith Campus at Imperial College Faculty of Medicine in 2001 and Head of the Division of Medicine in 2003. He moved to King’s College London as Head of the School of Medicine at Guy’s, King’s College and St Thomas’ Hospitals in September 2004 and became Vice Principal (Health) at KCL in October 2005. In June 2009 he was appointed as Executive Director of King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre

Professor David Lomas
Vice Provost, Health, University College London

David became Chair of Medicine and Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at University College London in January 2013 and became Vice Provost, Health, in August 2015. He is Head of UCL Medical School and Deputy Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council and also Medical Trustee of the British Heart Foundation. His research interests are the pathobiology of α1-antitrypsin deficiency, the serpinopathies and COPD.

Professor Sir Paul Nurse
Director and Chief Executive, The Francis Crick Institute

Paul Nurse is President of the Royal Society and Director of the Francis Crick Institute in London and has served as Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK and President of Rockefeller University. He shared the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and has received the Albert Lasker Award and the Royal Society's Royal and Copley Medals. He was knighted in 1999 and received the Legion d'honneur in 2003

Jo Pisani
Partner, Pharmaceuticals & Life Sciences Strategy, PwC

Jo Pisani has thirteen years of industry experience in the pharmaceuticals, energy, petrochemicals, and fast-moving consumer goods industries with BP and SmithKline Beecham where she held positions in the engineering, operations, IT, and commercial functions. Before joining PwC, she spent three years with Booz&Co, a strategic management consultancy where she focused on strategic issues in the pharmaceuticals and energy sectors