John Simpson is Professor of Respiratory Medicine at Newcastle University, an honorary consultant in Respiratory Medicine at Newcastle Hospitals, and an NIHR Senior Investigator. John has been Director of the NIHR Newcastle MIC since its origins in 2012 as the previously named NIHR Newcastle Diagnostics Evidence Co-operative (DEC) Newcastle. He led the DEC’s successful bid to become an NIHR MIC in 2017.
John is also a founding member of Diagnostics North East, a coordinated network of organisations that aim to improve patient care through the development, evaluation and adoption of most promising new diagnostics.
His research interests largely focus on infection in critically ill patients. He has been chief investigator for four successfully completed randomised controlled trials, one of which studied a novel diagnostic strategy for ventilator-associated pneumonia in 22 UK intensive care units. His main clinical interests are in pneumonia, pulmonary embolism and interstitial lung disease.
Kile developed an interest in biomarker discovery and development through his BSc in Biochemistry and Biological Chemistry at University of Nottingham. He undertook an MSc in Medical Sciences at Newcastle University with a focus on drug discovery, experimental medicine and transplantation. This background was subsequently employed throughout a range of projects including analysis of incidence rates of graft-versus-host-disease following haematopoietic stem cell transplantation, metastatic risk stratification in squamous cell carcinoma and molecular stratification of primary biliary cholangitis. He completed a PhD in bioinformatics in 2018 from Newcastle University on data driven analysis of human dendritic cell subsets before joining the Human Cell Atlas project, working on machine learning and single cell data analysis in the area of human fetal development.
Kile joined the Newcastle MIC in February 2020 and is bringing together the experience gained through his research career in bioinformatics and experimental medicine to develop novel methodology in the field of diagnostics test evaluation. He is also developing qualitative skills for care pathway analysis. This includes gathering and analysing views from key opinion leaders through surveys and interviews. Kile was promoted to a senior methodologist position in 2022.
Clare is a chartered statistician who joined the MIC in April 2018. She has over 30 years of experience of programming in languages such as SAS, visual basic, and R. Previously she worked for Sanofi where she oversaw the development of a data analysis system and drugs through preclinical stages to regulatory submission. More recently, working at Newcastle University, Clare has provided statistical support for undergraduates, PhD students and researchers; become familiar with NHS data, including setting up an MS-Access based database for the bone-marrow transplant team; and contributed to various ethics submissions for research projects.
At the MIC Clare focusses on the quantitative statistical aspects of projects with a focus on diagnostic accuracy studies. Her recent work includes developing data monitoring algorithms for early-to-clinic diagnostics. She has a longstanding methodological interest in developing biomarkers to ensure they are fit for purpose within healthcare settings. Clare also serves on a national scientific review panel for a charity investigating diagnostics.
Jana joined the Newcastle MIC in 2018 as a clinical test evaluation methodologist focused on mixed methods. She was promoted to a senior methdologist position in 2022. She has a PhD in Interdisciplinary Statistics, a BSc in Social Research, 13 years of industry experience and several years of teaching and research in academia. From 2010 she worked in higher education organisations as a researcher and lecturer, gaining ample experience in application and management of EU funded Interreg projects. She has a strong background in survey methodology and statistical modelling.
Within the MIC she has developed expertise in care pathway analysis and qualitative research. Her research usually focuses on applying interviews as the dominant technique to gather data from several stakeholders potentially involved in adoption of novel technology. These data are then analysed using qualitative analysis techniques, mainly thematic analysis. During her period at the MIC, she also gained substantial expertise in carrying out systematic reviews and meta-analysis. In addition, she regularly lectures on several modules within the Newcastle University Medical School.
Now retired, I previously worked for 40 years in education. Initially, as a teacher of biology and chemistry in grammar and comprehensive schools. For the last thirty five years, I taught biological sciences and educational management up to degree level in Further Education. During this time, I had several management roles, the last of which was as academic registrar. All these roles developed my personal skill set which I hope will help me make a meaningful contribution to the Panel.
On a personal level, I love travelling, although that is on hold for the foreseeable future. On retirement, I set two targets, first, to travel round the world in stages, which I achieved. Secondly, to go to a horse race meeting at every course in Britain. This was completed in 2019, with all 61 courses visited across the length and breadth of the country.
After my wife was diagnosed with a chronic liver disease, I started to get involved with the LIVErNORTH charity and now serve as a governor. Through these experiences, I developed an interest in patient and carer needs as well as the wider availability of treatments and research. Hence the reason for joining the Panel.
I am, in active retirement, a patient and public voice advocate. I try to represent and amplify public involvement as a member of the Patient and Public Voice Assurance Group which looks at specialised commissioning nationally. Here in Newcastle, I am a Public Governor of the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and lead my GP’s Patients’ Voice Group. My skills focus on improving communication. My aim is to ensure the public voice is heard and that we all understand what is happening so that we can respond in an informed and positive way. The Newcastle MIC values clarity of communication and the public interest throughout its work, so it is a pleasure to support them.
Rachel is a geneticist with a passion for communicating scientific ideas. She joined the MIC in 2018 and was appointed as our Communications and Engagement Manager in 2022. She has a PhD in Genetics from the University of Birmingham and 12 years’ postdoctoral research experience at University of Edinburgh and Newcastle University. Over her academic career Rachel applied her genetics knowledge to advance different fields of medical research including haematology, breast and ovarian cancer and female infertility. As well as research she gained experience in a variety of activities including public engagement and teaching.
Her work at the MIC includes: developing and managing content for our website, social media and newsletters; organising training courses; supporting grant writing, reporting and project work and engaging with our collaborators including patients, the public and health technology industry. She sees her role in the MIC as a fantastic opportunity to contribute to the processes involved in evaluating diagnostic tests and help facilitate and communicate the wide breadth of MIC activities being undertaken regionally, nationally and beyond.
Gary spent 32 years working in H M Civil Service, in various finance, Government grants and local taxation areas of work – but he’s alright now!
Having survived all of that, Gary retired a few years ago and now has the opportunity to bring his enthusiasm and experience to his voluntary roles with the Newcastle Hospital Trust, foremost amongst them the APEX (Advising on the Patient Experience) Group. Other NHS voluntary roles for Gary have included giving clerical support to the Outpatients unit at the RVI, Emergency Event contingency role-play exercises, as well as helping out at the Eye Clinic Liaison Office (ECLO). Gary has completed several stints assisting Tyneside Kidney Patients Association during their annual patient surveys at the Freeman Hospital (prior to Covid-19, of course).
Gary is also highly interested in health research, especially on how it can be made more accessible to the public; this directed him to the Newcastle MIC, whereupon he became an Insight Panel member in early 2020.
In his spare time, Gary enjoys looking after and walking his three dogs, reading, drawing, cinema, dining out, music and Mexican cooking – but not all at the same time, that would be simply crazy!
Jay’s interest in neuroscience began during her Biomedical Sciences BSc at Newcastle University, which she graduated from in July 2021. To further this interest, she undertook an MRes in Neuroscience in which psychiatric illnesses became her primary focus. Jay joined the MIC team in 2022 as part of her MRes project to understand diagnostic requirement and unmet need in mental health, specifically depression, from an NHS, clinical and patient perspective. Jay is continuing this research as part of a PhD project which she began in Autumn 2022.
After studying Biomedical Sciences, Tim completed an MSc in Biomedical Engineering at Newcastle University in 2016. In 2017, Tim was accepted onto the Scientist Training Programme in Clinical Engineering, where he worked in Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in North Wales as part of the Posture and Mobility Service. Tim’s interest in process pathways and computational modelling led him to undertake a project in modelling Custom Seating Provision in the Posture and Mobility Service in order to improve wheelchair delivery times, and the patient experience.
Tim joined Newcastle Hospitals in April 2020 and became a registered clinical scientist in October 2020. He works within Northern Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering to apply his knowledge in mechanical, electrical and software engineering to the development of medical devices. Tim’s biomedical engineering and modelling background also provides a valuable perspective for his work within the MIC where he is undertaking care pathway analysis to inform the implementation of new diagnostic tests.
Nicola joined the NIHR Newcastle MIC in April 2023. Prior to this Nicola worked as a database manager for the Newcastle Clinical Trials Unit. Nicola has 10 years of experience in conducting clinical trials with a specialisation in data management and data sharing. She recently completed a mixed methods PhD on participants’ attitudes towards the sharing of trial/study data. Prior to this Nicola worked in public health informatics for an NHS trust, gaining a Masters of Public Health. Nicola’s interest is in study design and selection and application of appropriate methodologies. This includes questionnaire surveys and focus groups as well as evidence synthesis.