Good bye to Japan! Day four of an incredible UK mission

Nicola Wilson gives her final diary from the UK delegation's mission to BioJapan

13th November 2017

It is the last day of BioJapan Conference and my last day in Japan, and I am writing this as I start my journey back to the UK. Travelling with Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) Director and Board Member, Dr Liz Mear, Chief Executive of The Innovation Agency, AHSN for the North-West Coast.

We are reflecting back on what has been a hectic week of activity that has only served to reinforce my pride in the strength of the North as a bio cluster. Time and time again this week, when I have been in conversation with Japanese colleagues, explaining who the NHSA are, what we do and who we represent, I am struck by how familiar the expertise of our member institutions including Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle is to colleagues who work the other side of the world, and their appetite to collaborate with some of the greatest minds in their field.

Earlier this week, I wrote about Professor Mike Trenell’s session on Medical Big Data, today was the turn of Professor Colin Johnson of Leeds University Medical School who shared his expertise in modelling the pathogenic effect of mutations in rare Mendelian conditions. He gave the talk to a room full of clinicians and researchers at a session titled “Genome Editing Legal Aspect and Industrial Applications, Now and Future”.  Again, there was standing room only.

Colin opened his session by highlighting the strengths and assets in R&D at each of the major institutions of the North, not just at his own institution. This reminded me of something fellow NHSA BioJapan delegate Arjun Sikand, Commercial Director at Health Innovation Manchester had observed only the day before, that “not only is the NHSA a powerful facilitator, but you are also a cohesive offer of ‘the North’ , and not just local level asset, which is a much more powerful offer to Industry”.

So, I find myself heading home with a pocket full of new colleagues’ business cards, ready to make these new connections a reality, and start planning a return visit for the NHSA at BioJapan 2018. What an honour and an experience representing my organisation and our members this last week has been, one I shall never forget.”

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