Leadership Team

The Cancer Diagnosis Network+ is managed by a leadership team composed of 4 STFC champions drawn from across the STFC community who have led knowledge exchange projects in healthcare, 4 thematic leaders from NHS foundation trusts, an impact lead, CPD lead and network manager.

Prof Laura Harkness-Brennan

Principal Investigator and STFC Champion

Laura is a Professor in the Department of Physics and Associate pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Impact for the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Liverpool.  She is an expert in developing techniques for gamma-ray spectroscopy and imaging, leading a talented and enthusiastic research team of PDRAs and PhD students.  She has secured funding of ~£3M as PI over the past 5 years and has published research in using semicondutor sensors for diagnostic and dosimetric imaging systems.  She has published a Morgan and Claypool book "An introduction to the physics of nuclear medicine" as part of the IOP Concise Physics Series and teaches university undergraduate and postgraudate modules in medical physics and nuclear physics.  

Catherine Jackson

STFC Network Manager

Catherine is based at the University of Liverpool, as the STFC Cancer Diagnosis Network Manager. She has a wealth of experience in project management and community engagement, as well as finance and research. She has worked at the University of Liverpool for over ten years, where she previously helped to coordinate multi-million pound projects, in the Department of Infection and Global Health. In 2017, she was responsible for organising the ‘11th African Rotavirus Symposium’, which was a two-day international conference, that took place in Malawi. This involved coordinating multiple organisations, including funders, healthcare industrial sponsors, local agencies, and other universities over the course of a year. The event was a great success delegates attending from around the world. Subsequently Catherine was awarded the ‘Professional Services Person of the Year’ for her efforts. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geography and a Master’s in Public Health. Catherine also works part time at Imperial College London managing the NIHR School of Public Health Research Network. Cat has recently carried out a secondment as a Faculty Research Coordinator, organising key events to bring together Early Career Academics with the aim of engaging the academic community to help improve the research environment and culture.

Prof John Lees

Co-Investigator and STFC Champion

John is a Professor at the Space Research Centre , University of Leicester.  He established the interdisciplinary Leicester BioImaging Unit, expanding his research in advanced sensors for astronomy to establish collaborations with the Life and Medical Sciences community.  He has attacted >£3M in research funding and commercial contracts, been responsible for 4 patents and formed a spin-out company that was subsequently sold to a private investor.  He has 116 published papers and has co-edited. a book "Gamma Cameras for Interventional and Intraoperative Imaging", CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group.

Prof Val O'Shea

Co-Investigator and STFC Champion

Val is a Professor of Applied Physics at the University of Glasgow.  He has been responsible for the design/build of detectors for ZEUS (DESY), ALEPH and ATLAS (both at CERN). He is a founding member of the Medipix Collaboration and is developing new applications for the use of photon counting techniques enabled by this technology. This counting capability underpins the ability to realise spectral X-ray imaging, which is the current focus of commercial development in this area. He has been supported by grant funding of >£5M for the development of detectors and readout of imaging systems.

Matt Wilson

Co-Investigator and STFC Champion

Matt is Group Leader of the Detector Development Group, STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.  He has over 10 years’ experience in developing and exploiting novel X-ray detectors, with over 50 publications. Matt has delivered CZT and scintillator based detector systems for a range of applications including material science, solar and astrophysics, security screening and medical imaging.

Dr Dimitra Darambara

Co-Investigator and Lead of Precision and Quantitative Imaging Theme

Dimitra is Senior Team Leader in Multimodality Molecular Imaging at the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.  She leads the development of novel imaging techniques and instrumentation to identify, visualise and quantify molecular and cellular characteristics of cancer. She has established a translational research laboratory focusing on quantitative molecular imaging, including photon-counting multi-spectral X-ray imaging. She collaborates with detector and healthcare industries and has secured >£3M funding. She is a RAE Biomedical Engineering Panel member, elected member of the IEEE Nuclear and Medical Sciences Council, immediate past Chair of the IOP Medical Physics Group and will Chair the 2019 IEEE Medical Imaging Conference (MIC).

Prof Nandita deSouza

Co-Investigator and Lead of Early Diagnosis Theme

Nandita is the ‘Early Diagnosis’ theme lead, within the STFC Cancer Diagnosis Network. She is an Academic Radiologist and emeritus professor at the Institute of Cancer Research and Honorary Consultant at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. Her expertise is MRI, aiming to improve diagnosis for cancer patients through the development of imaging biomarkers. She pioneered endocavitary probes, which provide high quality images and metabolic profiles of cancer tissue, allowing for accurate and early diagnosis. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Radiologists, Chair of the European Imaging Biomarkers Alliance and on the steering committee of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer imaging group.

Dr John Fenwick

Co-Investigator and Lead of Data Science and Integrative Imaging Theme

John is the Head of Research Physics at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust, and Senior Lecturer in Radiation Oncology at the University of Liverpool.  He is a clinical scientist with expertise in physics applied to radiation oncology and cancer imaging. Highlights include toxicity analysis of the Royal Marsden's pilot trial of conformal radiotherapy; clinical implementation of prototype and production model Tomotherapy machines in Madison, WI; design of isotoxically dose-escalated radiotherapy schedules tested in several UK phase I/II studies; analysis of tracer kinetics in dynamic positron emission tomography (PET) scans, and of correlations between FDG kinetics and mRNA microarray data; and development of innovative image reconstruction techniques for 4D PET.

Prof Paul Marsden

Co-Investigator and Lead of Multimodality Imaging Theme

Paul is Professor of PET Physics at King's College London. He led the early development of combined PET and MRI multimodality imaging systems and his research interests include data acquisition and analysis methods for clinical and research PET studies. Much of this involves collaborating with clinicians and scientists in oncology, cardiology and neuropsychiatry. As Director of Medical Physics at Guy's and St Thomas' PET Centre Paul is familiar with the regulatory, logistical and technical issues associated with PET imaging. He is co-lead of the UK PET Core Lab and General Chair of the 2019 IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference.

Dr Sarah Bugby

Co-Investigator and Impact Lead

Sarah completed her PhD in 2015 at the Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Leicester. She then spent several years as a postdoctoral researcher, focusing on portable medical gamma imaging, detection of dual gamma-NIR tracers for cancer imaging and XRF imaging. Over this time, she has been able to take a new medical imaging device from bench testing to clinical pilot studies and now to commercial development. In 2018, Sarah became an STFC Innovation fellow within the Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Leicester with a remit to translate core STFC-funded research in detectors and imaging systems to interdisciplinary areas. Now a lecturer at Loughborough University, her current research interests include intraoperative imaging, preclinical imaging techniques, semiconductor detectors for medical imaging and environmental monitoring. She is an elected member of the IOP Medical Physics Group committee.

Dr Helen Boston

Co-Investigator and CPD Lead

Helen obtained a PhD in experimental nuclear physics from the University of Liverpool, before completing a postdoc at TRIUMF, Canada researching super allowed beta decays and nuclear spectroscopy using the 8Pi and TIGRESS arrays. She returned to Liverpool to take up a position in the applied nuclear physics group leading research into novel detector designs for a broad range of applications such as medical imaging, security and nuclear decommissioning.

Helen is the Programme Director for the Clinical Science MSc degree programmes in Medical Physics and Bioinformatics (Physical Sciences) being delivered at the University of Liverpool as part of the Modernising Scientific Careers (MSC) for the NHS Scientific Training Partnership (STP).  For this PGT provision Helen has developed a teaching consortium of clinical scientists from RLUHB and CCC trusts.  Helen is an executive board member of MAHSE, University of Manchester’s Academy for Healthcare Scientist Education, and is a member of the STP HEI academic liaison group. 

Steering Committee 

Dr Craig Buckley is Head of Research and Innovation, Siemens Healthineers GB&I.  He has held industry positions with Siemens Healthineers engineering, service management and various R&D roles with technical and scientific responsibility for Siemens clinical and research sites across Great Britain and Ireland, focussing on industrial partnerships. During this time he has been invited to sit on various advisory boards, has co-supervised  industry/academic PhD projects and been the project lead for high value UKRI funded research programmes. He has previously held posts in academia, the last at the University of Cambridge.

Prof Freek Beekman is the founder and CEO of MILabs and head of Biomedical Imaging at Delft University of Technology.  MILabs markets hybrid PET/SPECT/Optical/CT systems and has recieved a Frost & Sullivan Medical Product Innovation Award and World Molecular Imaging Society Innovation of the year award.  He is a board member of the International Journal of Biomedical Imaging and of Physics in Medicine & Biology.  He has over 150 peer reviewed publications.

Dr Phil Carvil head’s up the regional STFC HealthTec Cluster for the North West of England hosted by the National Science and Innovation Campus -Sci-Tech Daresbury & is also the co-lead for the development of the North West Space Cluster. The cluster initiatives exist to connect key capabilities between stakeholders, national science facilities and innovators in the wider ecosystem to support collaboration, cross-sector innovation and community building.

A Scientist by background, he undertook his PhD for the European Space Agency at King’s College London on a project to support astronauts in space and reduce the risk of spinal issues post flight. He has particular interests in how cross-sector innovation (prominently between the Space and Health & Life Science Sectors) in best enabled, which have led to both nationally and international appointments.

Prof Dan Watts is a Professor in Nuclear Physics at the University of York, appointed as an Inspirational Reserach Leader.  He was previously a Chair in Hadron and Nuclear Physics at the University of Edinburgh.  He studies the fundmental structure of hadronic matter using intense electromagnetic beams.  He has been translating his STFC expertise to develop novel techniques for next generation Positron Emission Tomography systems and new imaging methods in gamma and proton radiotherapy.

Dr Silvia Pani is a senior lecturer in Applied Radiation Physics at the University of Surrey, where she is the programme director for the MSc Medical Physics. She obtained her PhD in Physics from the University of Trieste (Italy) in 2001 with a dissertation on the use of synchrotron radiation for breast computed tomography, and was part of the team that developed the first facility in the world for in-vivo synchrotron mammography. She then worked at the Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering at UCL with a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship, and under the Barts Cancer Institute at Queen Mary, University of London. Her research interest has always been the development of novel X-ray imaging modalities for applications ranging from diagnosis to baggage inspection, with a strong focus on the screening and early diagnosis of breast cancer. 

Prof Brian Hutton is Professor of Medical Physics at the Institute of Nuclear Medicine, University College London.  He is an international leader in quantitative emission tomography, medical image processing and tomographic processing.  He was co-recipient of the Marie Sklodowska Curie Award for his contribution ot the development of iterative reconstruction and its application in healthcare.  He pioneered an IAEA funded scheme for distance assisted training of Nuclear Medicine Technologiests, which has been adopted in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Dr Bjoern Seitz is a Senior Lecturer in Nuclear Physics at the University of Glasgow.  He has research interests in revealing the spin structure of the nucleon and describing the nucleons internal structure in terms of Generalized Parton Distributions.  He has pioneered new particle identification detectors for these experiments and is applying them in projects with medical physicists and biologists.  

Dr Ben Cantwell was one of the founders of Kromek, formed to commercialise CZT crystal growth technology which he developed during his PhD at the University of Durham. In the 18 years since the formation of the company, Ben has carried out a number of roles and developed a range of technologies in the medical, security and nuclear fields as the company has grown from two employees to over 130. This has included work on the development of gamma ray imaging for breast cancer screening. Currently Kromek’s Innovation Director, Ben is responsible for identifying new opportunities for the company’s technology and obtaining funding for the developments. 

Tracy O'Regan is a professional officer for clinical imaging and research at the Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR). She has represented SCoR on working parties at Public Health England and Health Education England with aims to modernise the roles of allied health professionals to support patient diagnosis and treatment pathways. Tracy is a registered diagnostic radiographer and still maintains clinical practice in the NHS. 

Isabella Panovic, is the STFC 21st Century Challenges Programme Leader. Isabella brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the role, having previously worked as a Portfolio Manager at EPSRC. Isabella oversees the delivery of the 21st Century Challenges programme, which includes the funding of Networks such as the STFC Cancer Diagnosis Network. 

Patient Representative