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Meet the alumni: Your chance to quiz biotech CEOs

Published: by Your chance to quiz biotech CEOs

Dr Julie Barnes and Dr Mary Kerr

You chance to quiz CEOs

Two Bradford alumni who have gone on to lead biotech companies will take part in a ‘Meet the Alumni’ event on Wednesday (October 13), from 6.30pm-8pm.

Dr Julie Barnes, chief executive officer and chief science officer of Abcodia, and Dr Mary Kerr, CEO of NeRRe Therapeutics, will share their stories of studying pharmacology at Bradford and their careers in life sciences, as leaders of prominent UK biotech companies.

Dr Barnes, who grew up near Bolton, Lancashire, said: “Coming to Bradford was transformational for me in so many ways. In a very positive sense, it gave me a thirst for science and that’s something I have to this day.

“To the students of today, I would say be good at what you do, get the best grades you can, seek advice from experts, stay up to date with what’s happening around you, and most of all, be brave. Science is all about finding links between different pieces of information. In some ways, it’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle - one that sometimes takes years to solve.”

Dr Kerr said: “The degree and PhD from Bradford established a solid platform of knowledge and opened the door to a diverse and fulfilling career in the pharmaceutical industry. I have used and built on these scientific foundations every single day in the work I do, developing and commercialising medicines for patients. I would fully recommend a career in the pharma industry for any new graduate.

“Bradford is special because of size; very quickly I felt part of a supportive and accessible community of students and academics. This intimacy differentiates Bradford from other larger institutions.”

The event will be hosted by Professor Sherif El-Khamisy, Director of the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics at the University of Bradford, who will explore their successes and challenges, and gain an insight into two Bradford graduates involved in ground-breaking medical technology.

The audience will also be invited to submit questions. Register here.

About Dr Julie Barnes:

Dr Julie Barnes is currently the CEO and CSO of Abcodia Ltd. She has more than 30 years’ experience as an entrepreneur and business leader in small and large UK healthcare companies. Previous roles include CSO at BioWisdom Ltd, a healthcare technology company (2011-2019), later sold to Instem, and prior to that, Head of Neuroscience at GlaxoWellcome/GlaxoSmithKline (1996-2011).

Julie is recognised for her breadth of experience in translational research, in both pharmaceutical and diagnostic/medical devices sectors. She has led many early development projects, regulatory and economic evaluations of new innovative healthcare technologies and implemented business strategies for early-stage growth. In 2013, she won the WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) Award for Enterprise and Innovation.

Julie was awarded a first class BSc in Pharmacology (1980-1984) and a PhD in Neuropharmacology (1984-1987) from the University of Bradford. She serves on several scientific advisory boards, including that of the Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research Center at the Knight Cancer Institute, USA.

About Dr Mary Kerr:

Dr Mary Kerr has served as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NeRRe Therapeutics, a privately funded UK Biotech since 2015, and a non-executive independent director at Galapagos NV since 2016. In 2017, Mary co-founded and was CEO of KaNDy Therapeutics until the company was acquired by Bayer in September 2020 for an upfront consideration of $425m and additional potential development, regulatory and sales milestone payments.

Before her career in Biotech, Mary held a range of senior leadership roles at GlaxoSmithKline and heritage companies for more than 20 years, including Senior Vice President and Global Franchise leader for the Immuno-inflammation and Infectious Diseases franchise. Mary was a founding member and on the Corporate Executive team of ViiV Healthcare. She has spent most of her career on the R&D commercial interface in global strategy and regional operational roles, predominantly in the specialty and orphan space.

Mary gained a BSc and PhD in Pharmacology at the University of Bradford, did postdoctoral research at the Michigan Cancer Foundation in Detroit, and has an MBA from the University of Kingston.

About the event series: Our Meet the Alumni series features close-up conversations with Bradford alumni from different disciplines and backgrounds providing great insights into the industries they work in and their personal and professional journeys.