Advisory Board

EMBER establishes a management and governance structure comprising of an executive management board, a scientific board, an operations group and an external advisory board.

The advisory board consists of members from Leicester and Loughborough Universities (College Research Directors), NHS Trust (R&D Director, Pathology Leads), and Enterprise/IP representations from each of the participating organisations, patient representatives, and representatives from the Royal College of Pathologists and the diagnostics industry.

Professor George Hanna

Professor of Surgical Sciences, Head of Division and NIHR-DEC Director
Imperial College London

George Hanna was trained in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, Scotland in laparoscopic and oesophago-gastric surgery. He obtained FRCS (Edinburgh) in 1993 and PhD (University of Dundee) on the ergonomics of laparoscopic surgery in 1997. He joined Imperial College as Clinical Senior Lecturer and Upper Gastrointestinal Consultant Surgeon in 2003 and promoted to Reader in 2005 and Professor of Surgical Sciences in 2008. He became the Head of Division of Surgery in 2012.

Professor Hanna’s clinical work is based at St Mary’s Hospital and includes oesophageal and gastric cancer and advanced laparoscopic surgery.

The current interests of his laboratory revolve around volatile organic compounds analysis for biomarker discovery and understanding the molecular drivers of volatile compounds in an attempt to develop non-invasive breath test to diagnose oesophageal and gastric cancer. Research into surgical technology includes the development of radiofrequency-based system for bowel anastomosis, tissue compliancy mapping system and LED endoscopes.

He leads NIHR programme for point of care diagnostics in cancer and gastrointestinal diseases. His educational research aims to develop competency assessment tools for training and quality assurance of surgical performance in randomised controlled trials. The research is funded by NIHR, EPSRC, EU and Industry.


Professor Peter J Sterk

Professor of Pathogenesis and Pathophysiology of Airway Diseases
University of Amsterdam

Peter Sterk is a clinical physiologist with a life-long interest in respiratory health and disease. He has professorship at the Department of Respiratory Medicine in the Academic Medical Centre (AMC) of the University of Amsterdam, where he is steering and supervising translational research projects in chronic airways diseases. He is also vice-dean of Graduate Studies, coordinating postgraduate education and training of PhD-fellows in AMC. He became MD at Leiden University in 1976, after which he decided to pursue an entirely scientific rather than a clinical career. He joined the Laboratory of Physiology in Leiden and graduated as PhD in 1981 on studies examining small airways function in asthma and COPD.

His research interests include mechanisms and interventions for allergen- and virus-induced exacerbations and on sub-phenotyping asthma and COPD by using clinical, functional and cellular characteristics. In 2005 he delivered the ERS Sadoul Lecture on the usage of complex biomarker signatures in asthma and COPD.

He received the opportunity of switching academic environment in 2007 by moving to the Department of Respiratory Medicine at the Academic Medical Centre of the University of Amsterdam. This promoted his research on integrating biomarkers in clinical diagnostics, phenotyping and management, by using a so-called ‘systems medicine’ approach. This approach was embedded in a public-private grant U-BIOPRED (2009-2015) by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) of which Peter was the coordinator.

His current focus of research are:

  • Pathophysiology and phenotyping of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Structure-function relationships in the airways of patients with asthma and COPD
  • Gene expression profiling and in vivo function of airway smooth muscle in asthma
  • Use of biomarkers of airway inflammation and lung function in the prediction and monitoring of clinical outcome of respiratory diseases
  • Human in vivo models of asthma exacerbations by experimental rhinovirus infection, allergen, and/or particulate matter exposure
  • Breatheomics in exhaled air by electronic nose technology as non-invasive and unbiased diagnostic assessment of respiratory diseases

Professor Finbarr Cotter

Professor of Haematory, Former President of the British Society of Haematology
Queen Mary, University of London

Finbarr Cotter is Lead for Molecular Pathology at Barts Health and Head of Experimental Haematology at Barts Cancer Institute (Queen Mary Univ of London) and Consultant in Haemato-Oncology. He is also Director of Research for the Royal College of Pathologists and recent Past President of the British Society for Haematology.

Professor Cotter graduated in medicine from the University of London in 1978, trained in Haematology at the Royal London Hospital, and in Oncology at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London. In 1986 he obtained a Ph.D. molecular biology of lymphoid malignancies, while working for the ICRF. In 1992 he moved to the Institute of Child Health (University College London) as a senior lecturer and then as a reader in molecular haematology and oncology, where he continued his molecular research into haematological malignancies as part of the Leukaemia Research Fund centre. Particular emphasis has been on the application of molecular understanding and therapy for malignancy. He carried out the first trial of Genasense worldwide having developed the compound in his research laboratory. Since then he has helped develop a number of molecular therapies including GCS-100 in CLL. In 1999, he moved his research group to Barts and the London School of Medicine to continue work on molecular therapy in the field of haematological malignancies with a particular emphasis on B-Cell tumours. As Head of Experimental Haematology, much of his work is based on translational medicinal chemistry research in the field of malignancy with functional modelling in Zebrafish. As a Haemato-Oncologist his clinical work has a strong emphasis on B-cell malignancies for which he participates and leads some national trials. Professor Cotter has developed a Regional Molecular Pathology unit within the Hospital Trust and leads a National Childhood Leukaemia diagnostic centre interacting with MRC national trials in the UK. Professor Cotter is an advisor to a number of UK Government committees in both therapy and molecular pathology and genetics.

Professor Cotter is currently the Editor in Chief for the British Journal of Haematology and the website.

Dr Noel Snell

Director of Research
British Lung Foundation

Noel Snell trained in respiratory medicine before spending several years as a clinician scientist with the British Medical Research Council. He subsequently joined the pharmaceutical industry, while maintaining part-time clinical and academic appointments, and has held senior posts in clinical R&D at Boehringer Ingelheim, ICN (USA), Glaxo, Bayer, and most recently AstraZeneca. He is currently Director of Research for the British Lung Foundation, and an honorary senior lecturer at the National Heart & Lung Institute and chest physician at the Royal Brompton Hospital. He is a former chairman and past-president of the British Association for Lung Research, past president of the Royal Society of Medicine respiratory section, and former council member of the British Thoracic Society. He is editor emeritus of ‘Pharmaceutical Medicine’ and an editorial board member of ‘Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs’ and ‘Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy’.

Noel's expertise is in early phase clinical development in the respiratory & inflammation areas, including respiratory infection; he is also experienced in inhalation device development. His particular interests are in respiratory infection, COPD pathogenesis, inhaled drug delivery, and respiratory adverse drug reactions. He has an extensive network of contacts in the respiratory medicine community both in the UK and internationally.

Professor Andrew Fry

College Director of Research
University of Leicester

Andrew Fry is Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Leicester in the UK. The Fry lab uses mammalian cultured cells and extracts prepared from Xenopus laevis eggs to study processes involved in cell cycle control. His current work focuses on:

  • the composition, regulation and functions of the centrosome
  • the roles of the NIMA-related kinase family in cell cycle control and organization of the cytoskeleton
  • mitotic protein degradation

Research in Fry laboratory fall into two major themes. Firstly, the characterization of members of a new family of cell cycle-regulated protein kinases, called NIMA-related kinases or Neks. Human cells express eleven Neks, of which at least five play roles in cell division control. Evidence to date suggests that they have specific functions in microtubule organization and mitotic progression and altered expression has been found in human cancers. We currently have projects in collaboration with the Institute of Cancer Research in London to explore these kinases as potential anti-cancer targets. Secondly, regulation of centrosome organization and function through the cell division cycle. The centrosome is the major site of microtubule organization in animal cells and contributes to bipolar spindle formation in mitosis and ciliogenesis in post-mitotic cells. Abnormal centrosome regulation is common in many cancers, while genes encoding centrosome components are mutated in a wide variety of human disorders including diverse ciliopathies.

The Fry laboratory uses a wide range of state-of-the-art molecular and cell biology techniques including recombinant DNA cloning, mutagenesis, cell culture, plasmid and siRNA transfection and protein biochemistry. In addition, much of our work involves high resolution fluorescence microscopy and appropriate training will be provided in cutting-edge imaging techniques.

The Fry laboratory is housed in a brand new purpose-built research centre and is supported by grants from the Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK, the Association for International Cancer Research, the BBSRC and the MRC. These support a research group comprising six postdocs, four PhD students and a full-time technician. We also have important collaborations with the Institute of Cancer Research, London, and AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals.


Professor David Williams OBE

Professor of Healthcare Engineering
Loughborough University

David Williams, Professor of Healthcare Engineering at Loughborough University, is also Director of the Loughborough-led EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Regenerative Medicine.

Professor Williams’ career began as a student apprentice at the global engineering group GKN, during which time he also embarked upon his undergraduate degree at UMIST (University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology). He then went on to study for his PhD at the University of Cambridge.

Having been made Ford of Britain Fellow in 1980, Professor Williams was subsequently appointed Lecturer in Manufacturing and Design at the University of Cambridge and was made a Fellow of the University’s Downing College.

A move to Loughborough in 1989 saw Professor Williams appointed to the Chair of Manufacturing Processes, and two years later he also took up the role of head of the Department of Manufacturing Engineering.

1999 to 2003 saw him in industry again as Technical Director of Bespak, during which time he also gained a DEng (Doctor of Engineering) from UMIST and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

In 2003 Professor Williams became Loughborough University’s first-ever Professor of Healthcare Engineering – a move that reinforced the University’s evolution into this fast-growing area of the healthcare industry and ultimately led to the formation of the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Regenerative Medicine.

Professor Williams has also recently been appointed as the academic lead for the University’s Research Challenge in Health and Wellbeing. The six Research Challenges bring together associated research from across the University to accelerate the delivery of distinctive solutions to regional, national and international challenges.

Professor Williams is also Honorary Historical Consultant to the Royal Armouries.


Dr David Hetmanski

Assistant Director of Research and Innovation
University Hospitals of Leicester