Bridge photo with text overlaid: improving translation in neuroscience

‘Improving translation in neuroscience’ will explore the key factors inhibiting effective translation of research between academia and industry, identify how to achieve successful translation, and provide delegates with meaningful and practical ways to accelerate their own work, whether that’s in the academic or commercial sector. 

The day will incorporate education, networking and interactive sessions to share knowledge to improve translation in neuroscience and will have a strong credibility component to it.

Breakout sessions will be led by key representatives from Abcam, Biogen, Cambridge University, LifeArc, MSD, The Psychiatry Consortium and members of the BNA’s council and committee.

This is part of the BNA’s ‘Building Bridges Between: Industry & Academia’ project, bringing academics and industry colleagues together for information exchange, networking and business opportunities.

Registration is free to BNA Members.
For non-member fees, please follow the registration link on the BNA website


Ruth McKernan CBE (SV Health Investors)

PLENARY: Looking to the future

Ruth has over 25 years in the Pharma Industry at Merck and Pfizer, leading several Research Sites in the UK and US during her career. She has set up new Research Units, including Pfizer Regenerative Medicine and Neusentis, initiated multiple neuroscience partnerships, acquisitions and spinouts and played an active role in taking more than 10 compounds into the clinic. Immediately prior to joining SV, she spent 3 years as CEO of the UK Government’s Innovation agency, InnovateUK, supporting the UK’s Industrial Strategy with responsibility for investing an annual budget of £1Bn into Technology centres and SMEs.

Outside of SV, Ruth is a trustee for Alzheimer’s Research UK and Chair of the UK’s BioIndustry Association. She is an enthusiast for innovation and entrepreneurship, sitting on multiple innovation and translation boards including the Academy of Engineering and the CRICK Institute. In her spare time Ruth is an award winning science writer, avid gardener and spokesperson for Women in Innovation.

Academic credentials
Ruth Has a BSc in Pharmacology and Biochemistry, a PhD in neuroscience and Honorary DSc from two Universities.

She was made a Commander of the British Empire for services to business and innovation in 2013 and elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2015.

Geraint Rees (UCL)

What good translation looks like - academic perspective

Prof Geraint Rees is UCL Pro-Provost (Academic Planning), Pro Vice-Provost (AI) and Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences at UCL. His responsibilities include contributing to institution-wide strategic planning and strategy, the development of artificial intelligence across UCL, and leadership of a large and complex world-leading academic faculty with over 850 staff, several thousand students and an income of over £120M per annum. He founded the Academic Careers Office at UCL and the Experimental Medicine Academy at the UCLH NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, which jointly deliver highly creative nationally recognised training to some of the UK’s largest academic and clinical academic training programmes. He is a non-executive Director of UCL Business, one of the UK’s most successful technology transfer companies, and was a Senior Scientific Advisor at DeepMind from 2018-2020. A neurologist and neuroscientist, his research seeks to understand the neural basis of human cognition. He has published over 300 research papers that have been cited over 28,000 times, and was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2010.

Jina Swartz (MSD)

What good translation looks like between industry perspective

Dr Jina Swartz trained in Internal Medicine and Neurology in South Africa, obtaining her MBBCh (MD) degree cum laude, followed by an MSc Medicine (Neurology). After the award of a post-doctoral research fellowship in 1998, she completed a PhD at the University of Cambridge, exploring molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration in Huntington's disease and trinucleotide disorders. She was recently elected to the Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences. Jina possesses internationally recognised expertise in Neuroscience drug development, including Alzheimer’s disease, related dementias, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, cognitive dysfunction, pain, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.

As well as over ten years in academic Neurology practice and research, she has twenty years’ experience in Clinical Development spanning exploratory research, Phase I, Phase II (proof-of-concept) and Phase III global programmes through to drug registration. Jina also holds expertise in rare neurological diseases.

Jina is currently Therapeutic Area Head of Neuroscience in Global Clinical Drug Development EMEA at MSD. She leads Clinical Development, Regulatory, Policy, Commercial, Operational, Business Development and Market Access activities across the EMEA region and leads global development programmes in treatment resistant depression and Alzheimer’s disease. An expert in Alzheimer’s disease drug development, having led Eisai’s donepezil programme, she joined Merck to coordinate the development of verubecestat in AD. Jina recently led the Alzheimer's "What if" Policy Roundtable sessions at the European Parliament, influencing policy change in EU dementia strategy.

A chaired panel discussion, led by Kevin Cox, exploring 'Why don’t we always achieve good translation, and exploring challenges for both industry and academia'
  • Catherine Harmer (University of Oxford) - Catherine Harmer trained in experimental psychology before completing a PhD in psychopharmacology both at the University of York. She came to the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford in 1998 as a post-doctoral researcher and was appointed as a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience in 2007. Catherine Harmer’s work focuses on the cognitive mechanisms underlying treatment effects in psychiatry. She uses a combination of functional neuroimaging, cognitive measures, psychopharmacological challenge tests in humans to find out how, for example, antidepressants work in depression. Her work is funded by the Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust and the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre. Catherine Harmer serves on the executive committee of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, is an associate editor for Psychological Medicine and a Council Member for the British Neuroscience Association as well as a former Council Member for the BAP.
  • Steve Wooding (Beckley Psytech Ltd)Steve Wooding is the CSO at Beckley Psytech Ltd and was previously head of Global Commercial Strategy and Market Access at Janssen (the pharmaceutical arm of Johnson & Johnson) and a member of the Pharmaceuticals Group Operating Committee (GOC).

    Steve has held multiple different positions within a 27-year career at Janssen. This included Managing Director, Emerging Markets, Janssen Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Vice President and Head of Market Access for EMEA, building an integrated Market Access function, bringing together teams from the Commercial Strategy, Medical Affairs, Health Economics and Market Access, New Business Development, Business Intelligence organisations to provide rapid and sustained patient access to Janssen’s innovative new drugs.  Prior to this, Steve was Vice President, Medical Affairs, Janssen EMEA. 

    Steve served as Area Managing Director for Janssen UK, Ireland and South Africa, and Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand. He joined Johnson & Johnson with Janssen UK in 1992, and held several positions of increasing responsibility within R&D, Medical Affairs and Commercial in the UK, Ireland, South Africa and Canada.

    Steve earned a BSc degree in Pharmacology and medicine from St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London; he is a Fellow of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine and holds an MBA from Henley Management College, UK.

  • Peter McNaughton (King's College London)Peter McNaughton was born in New Zealand, where he studied Physics at the University of Auckland. He was lecturer in Physiology at the University of Cambridge from 1978 to 1991 and moved to London in 1991 as Head of Physiology at King’s College London. In 1999 he returned to Cambridge as Head of the Department of Pharmacology and in 2013 moved again to King’s College London as Professor of Pharmacology.

    He has worked in several areas of neuroscience, mainly in the cellular basis of sensations – vision, pain and magnetic sensation. The principal interests of his lab at present are the molecular and cellular bases of pain, thermal sensation and thermo-regulation.  His work aims to connect pain and thermal sensation, at the level of molecular detectors, to the behaviour of the whole animal. He has initiated two drug development projects, both arising from discoveries in his lab.