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Penny Johnson joins Biomedical Research Centre to boost health sector links with industry

The Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) has appointed Dr Penny Johnson to the new role of industry liaison manager.

She joins the team from Intercytex Ltd where she was Director of Research, UK. Intercytex develops and manufactures living cell therapies for medicinal and aesthetic applications.

Established in April 2008 with £35 million of funding, the BRC is a partnership between the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester. It is one of 12 major centres of medical research excellence across the UK funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), and specialises in genetics and developmental medicine.

The BRC aims to translate developments in biomedical research from the laboratory to the Trust's five hospitals, where new treatments and technologies can benefit patients from Greater Manchester and beyond. Its work is also funded by the North West Regional Development Agency.

At the BRC, Penny will assist in translating research findings into the clinical arena and ultimately help to establish commercial partnerships with bio/pharma and healthcare companies to make new treatments, drugs and diagnostic technologies more widely available. Educated in Canada, Penny completed her PhD in the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto, where her work provided direct evidence for a tumour suppressor role for a gene frequently mutated in many common cancers. Moving to The University of Manchester in 1992, over the next eight years she completed two postdoctoral fellowships in cell research before joining Intercytex as a senior scientist.

In addition to recruiting and establishing an R&D team, Penny played a key part in the development of the company's two major wound healing treatments, translating initial research concepts to enable the manufacture of product to supply Phase I, II and III clinical trials in the UK, Canada, and the US.

"I'm really looking forward to the challenge of this new role," said Penny. "With experience of how science operates within a commercial environment, I'm keen to help BRC scientists and clinicians complete the transition of their work from the lab to the patient's bedside as quickly and effectively as possible.

"The North West is home to a major cluster of bio/pharma and healthcare businesses, many of them spun out of our excellent universities and research organisations. My role is to develop new partnerships between the NHS, academic institutions and the companies who can turn groundbreaking research into new treatments for patients."