× Medicines Discovery Catapult
An article from our series:

Which team do you work in and what does that team do?

I lead the Samples capability which is part of our Discovery team. Our remit is to support SMEs in accessing clinical samples, which they often require to progress their R&D assets. Based on previous feedback we’ve received from the UK life sciences sector, access to high quality clinical samples is something that SMEs rate as being hugely important, but in practice it can be quite challenging to achieve.

What’s your role within your team? 

I am in the process of developing a network of sample supplier organisations that we can liaise with to fulfil sample access requests. Also, I’m looking into creating several ‘virtual’ biobanks where MDC can manage sample access requests on behalf of academic organisations.

The Samples capability delivers impact as well as revenue, and we’ve generated several case studies to showcase how we have delivered benefit to individual organisations within the sector, along with workshops, reports, and blog articles.

In three words, what would best describe your team?

Compact, flexible and committed!

What attracted you to the drug discovery industry and Medicines Discovery Catapult?

My background is in life sciences research – I’ve previously worked for AstraZeneca, both as a lab based scientist and then as a clinical trials manager in academia within University of Liverpool Clinical Trials Research Centre and within the NHS as a Business Development Manager for commercial research.

One of the positions I held at AstraZeneca was within sample acquisition – supporting disease area teams to procure human tissue from a range of academic and commercial sources. When I saw my role advertised, I thought it would be a great opportunity to work with UK life sciences SMEs in an area I’d had previous experience in.

Tell us about any work you’ve done that you’re most proud of.

As a junior clinical trials manager within AstraZeneca I worked in early phase Oncology. One of the first projects I was assigned was Faslodex, a treatment developed for pre-menopausal breast cancer. I ran the majority of the clinical pharmacology studies for the programme and despite various formulation issues the drug was finally licensed in 2002. A real sense of achievement after years of hard work.

Are you a member of any communities, professional societies, etc.?

I have been a member of Liverpool Central Research Ethics Committee for approximately two years. My role involves reviewing 5-6 research proposals per month, attending monthly meetings to feedback any areas of concern to researchers and to make recommendations around their approval. It involves a lot of reading, but the quality and diversity of research being conducted within the North West never fails to amaze me – drug/device studies, basic science, data collection studies and qualitative research to name a few examples.

Recently, I was asked to review an observational research project on Covid-19 at short notice which involved a fairly late night, but I got through it!

Tell us something you like doing outside of work?

I am a keen, but not very fast runner and was training for Manchester marathon prior to the UK lockdown and life as we know it being put on hold. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to achieve this in October…

While I’ve been stuck at home over recent weeks I’ve developed a love for gardening in my spare time that I didn’t know existed, and have found time to bake – chocolate chip cookies and homemade bread a speciality!

Learn more about our Samples & Data team – meet Joanne Hartley – Senior Scientist – Biosample for a snapshot into how she works collaboratively with other functions in the organisation and her extensive industry experience.

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