Keynote and plenary speakers

We are pleased to announce that the following industry professionals have agreed to deliver inspiring and engaging keynote and plenary speeches at our Accelerate Conference 2017.



NIHR Clinical Research Network


Dr. Clare Morgan is responsible for research delivery across the network. This includes national oversight and performance management of the research portfolio, including commercial and non-commercial research across all specialties. The directorate is responsible for policy strategy and initiatives associated with improving delivery of research in the NHS from study set up to closure.

Her role focuses on proactively addressing the challenges in delivering the portfolio of research, supporting an effective interface between the Coordinating Centre and Local Clinical Research Networks, and performance improvement in the delivery of research.

Clare was previously director for industry and general manager of the Dementias and Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Network (DeNDRoN) within the Network. She also brings significant experience of commercial and academic clinical research to the role, which she gained through positions in contract research organisations, the pharmaceutical industry, and within universities. 

Ed Cervantes-Watson 

Head of Funding Innovation, Cancer Research UK 


Ed is charged with exploring new ways for Cancer Research UK to both fund and leverage income against its research portfolio, with a focus on high risk, high reward research. His team are responsible for Grand Challenge – the largest cancer research grants in the world seeking to accelerate progress through transformative international team research – and the Pioneer Awards, which seek to attract novel collaborations from outside of cancer.

Prior to joining CRUK, Ed led product development within an adventure tour operator start up. He is passionate about helping businesses and people achieve more, better, and quicker. 

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Professor Peter Johnson MA, MD, FRCP

Professor of Medical Oncology within Medicine at the University of Southampton and Director of Cancer Research UK


Peter Johnson graduated from Cambridge University and St Thomas's Medical School. He trained in oncology at St Bartholomew's Hospital, where he was an Imperial Cancer Research Fund Clinical Research Fellow and completed his doctoral research on the Bcl-2 gene, its potential as a therapeutic target in lymphoma and the effects of CD40 ligation on the B-cell surface. He was subsequently a Senior Lecturer in Medical Oncology in the ICRF Cancer Medicine Research Unit, Leeds and took up the Chair of Medical Oncology in Southampton in 1998. He leads the Southampton Cancer Research UK Centre, responsible for bringing together a broad multidisciplinary group of basic, translational and clinical researchers, and linking the laboratory research to the extensive clinical practice in cancer treatment in the Southampton Cancer Centre. Southampton hosts an Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre and a Clinical Trials Unit, both with core support from NIHR and CR UK. He was appointed Chief Clinician for Cancer Research UK in 2008.

Louise Knowles

NIHR Infrastructure and Growth


Louise is Head of Research Policy for the NIHR Infrastructure and Growth, within the Department of Health. As part of this role she oversees policy and delivery relating to the NIHRinfrastructure; encompassing the NIHR Biomedical Research Centres, Patient Safety Translational Research Centres, Healthcare Technology Cooperatives, Diagnostic Evidence Cooperatives, and Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care as well as initiatives such as the Translational Research Collaborations and NIHR BioResource. The role also involves leading on work aimed at maximising the contribution NIHR research and research infrastructure on growth.

Louise has worked as a scientist in Civil Service for over 10 years. Prior to working at the Department of Health, she worked at the Government Office for Science as a Foresight Researcher undertaking Futures research; working with government departments, experts and academics to identify where new or emerging science can inform policy. 

Prior to this she worked as a Research Programme Manager in the Food Standards Agency, where she led the Foodborne Disease Research Programme, managed the Second Study of Infectious Intestinal Disease (IID2) and established a Foodborne Virus Research Programme.


Programme Manager at Alberta Clinical Research Consortium,
Alberta Innovates


Dr. Trina Johnson currently serves as Program Manager at Alberta Innovates in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She has been the manager of the Alberta Clinical Research Consortium (ACRC) since 2015, implementing the vision of this pan-provincial initiative for high-quality, efficient clinical health research, on behalf of Alberta’s healthcare networks and universities. Previously, she held a position as both the Associate Director Scientific and Associate Director Operations for an academic research organization at the Montreal Neurological Institute and McGill University.

Her academic training is in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, with two postdoctoral fellowships related to clinical immunotherapeutics, autoimmunity and molecular regulation. As Program Manager at Alberta Innovates, Dr. Johnson follows the guiding principles of collaboration, best practice, simplification, coordination and accountability to streamline the provincial clinical research roadmap.

Wendy Fisher 

Managing Director at WFC 


Wendy is an established research consultant with a wide range of strategic and operational skills. While Wendy’s background is grounded in the NHS, her skills allow her to work seamlessly across the HEI and charity sectors. Wendy is frequently called upon to facilitate the creation of research networks for specialist centres such as the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMC) and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust or to bring groups together post-merger.

With a keen eye to the future Wendy is also often instrumental in assisting organisations to consider their strategic aims and objectives creating strategy documents with clear and realistic goal setting and action plans. The aim of WFC is to support organisations and individuals to be successful. 

Dr Mayank Patel

Consultant Physician in Diabetes and Acute Medicine


Dr Mayank Patel has worked as a Consultant Physician in Diabetes and Acute Medicine at University Hospital Southampton since 2008. He completed his specialist clinical training in Wessex. Since starting as a consultant, he has overhauled and developed the Trust’s adult inpatient diabetes service and worked with commissioners to bring new adult insulin pumps and diabetic multidisciplinary foot clinics to the trust. He also contributes to medical undergraduate and postgraduate diabetes training, as well as regularly delivering diabetes teaching sessions to patients, public and other healthcare professionals in primary and secondary care.

He co-developed ‘Microguide DiAppbetes’, a smartphone application to help HCPs manage people with diabetes. He is also the Work Based Learning module lead for the BioDgirabpehtyes best practice MSc at the University of Southampton. 


3CTN Execute Director


Karen is the Executive Director for the new Canadian Cancer Clinical Trial Network (3CTN) with its secretariat at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in Toronto, Canada.

Karen is one of the founding members and chair of the board of directors of the Network of Networks (N2), a not for profit organization, which aims to enhance Canada’s clinical research capability and capacity, by providing clinical research professionals with the necessary tools and programs to conduct high quality research with integrity, efficiency and continuous quality improvement; acting as a national voice, advocating on behalf of membership for issues affecting or influencing clinical research in Canada; and serving as a national alliance, bridging regional and provincial initiatives. N2 fosters collaboration among stakeholder groups to strengthen Canada’s research enterprise.

The focus of Karen’s work at 3CTN is to collaborate with all Canadian stakeholders in clinical research to achieve enhancements and efficiencies in their infrastructure and processes to enhance the conduct of clinical trials.

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Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network (3CTN) EDGE Coordinator


Rebecca Xu graduated from McMaster University’ MBA program, and specialized in health services management in 2009. She joined the Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network (3CTN) Coordinating Centre in 2015 to provide support for EDGE implementation to member cancer centres of the Network. Prior to 3CTN, she worked at the Clinical Trials Department at Juravinski Cancer Centre to coordinate an ongoing quality improvement project. Under her guidance, the Department has successfully implemented EDGE as the first Canadian pilot site to leverage the system to achieve optimal practice and financial sustainability.

Her 4 years’ site experience has allowed her to develop unique perspectives and a greater understanding of oncology clinical trials site operations, which she uses to customize the EDGE system for 3CTN clinical trials portfolio management. These are relevant to recruiting sites in Canada.