The Northern Health Science Alliance Ltd is a membership organisation. Its board and council represent the leaders from the North's top research universities and research intensive teaching hospitals.

The Team

The Northern Health Science Alliance team

About Séamus

With a background in research, experience of clinical research and development and 20+ years’ experience of building teams, networks and now clusters, Séamus is a senior figure within the life sciences sector in the UK.

Dr Séamus O’Neill

Chief Executive

About Hannah

Hannah is a communications executive and former journalist with extensive experience leading award-winning communications campaigns. She joined the NHSA from a prestigious North PR agency and was previously a journalist at the North East's largest newspaper group.

Hannah Davies

Deputy Chief Executive for NHSA and Executive Director of Health Equity North

About Mandy

Mandy has worked within the health & life sciences sector for over 25 years, with a career spanning the NHS & higher education. She has a wealth of experience in bringing together industry, academia & the health sector to develop strategic partnerships & deliver successful collaborations & projects.

Dr Mandy Dixon

Executive Lead for Corporate Engagement and Cluster Development

About Ben

Ben has a wealth of experience working at the intersection of business and life sciences research. Within his NHSA role, he leads cluster development activity and fosters regional, national and international engagement.

Dr Ben Martyn

 Executive Lead for Investment and International Partnerships

About Helen

Helen began her career as a medical physicist in the NHS and over the past two decades has specialised in medtech evaluation, working within the regulatory, procurement, commissioning and NHS provider landscapes. Her last role was Head of an External Assessment Centre for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Helen Cole

Executive Lead for Health Technologies and Evaluation

About Ruth

Ruth has ten years’ experience in the media industry, starting her career as a journalist before moving into PR. She has worked at one of the North East’s leading communications agencies and as a freelance communications specialist. She has developed and delivered a wide range of regional and national PR campaigns.

Ruth Boston

Head of Communications

About Sean

Sean worked as a Graphic Artist at ncjMedia for 20 years before becoming a Freelance Illustrator, during which time his clients included Dorling Kindersley, Cambridge University Press, Financial Times and Morrisons.

Sean Collins

Senior Designer

About Vanessa

Vanessa has over 30 years’ experience in office work across a variety of sectors most recently working in the third sector and healthcare.

Vanessa Nolan

Office Manager

About Mhairi

Mhairi has a varied background within in the Health and Social Care sector, working previously in the events department for the strategic body for workforce development in adult social care in England and prior to that working on the frontline within the NHS.

Mhairi Murdoch

Project Manager

About Alexis

Prior to joining the NHSA Alexis worked for the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and managed the Policy@Manchester team at The University of Manchester, she has also worked for Members of Parliament and a political party in research and campaign roles.

Alexis Darby

Head of Public Affairs

About Charlotte

Charlotte has extensive experience in communications, having previously worked in the NHS and local authorities prior to joining the NHSA.

Charlotte Thompson

Senior Communications Officer

About Magan

Magan has had a varied career after achieving an English literature degree and most recently gained a copywriting diploma, joining the NHSA in 2023 as Executive Assistant to the Executive Team.

Magan Johansen

Executive Assistant

Board of Directors


Professor Burn is Professor of Movement Disorders Neurology at Newcastle University and Honorary Consultant Neurologist for Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He is an NIHR Senior Investigator, chairs the NIHR Translational Research Collaboration for Dementia and is National Clinical Director for Parkinson’s UK.

Chair, Professor David Burn

Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University


Professor Kenny was the founding Director of the Science Foundation Ireland funded Irish Centre for Fetal & Neonatal Translational Research and was Prof of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at Cork University Maternity Hospital where she worked as a Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist from 2006-2018. She is deputy Chair of Liverpool Health Partners.

Director, Professor Louise Kenny

Executive Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at the University of Liverpool


Prior to his appointment as Chief Executive at Leeds Hospitals, Phil was Chief Medical Officer for the Trust and Deputy Chief Executive. He was awarded an Honorary Professorship in Healthcare Leadership from the University of Leeds in recognition of his leadership contribution across research, innovation, education and training.

Director, Professor Phil Wood

Chief Executive at The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust


Sir John is a graduate of Oxford University who trained at Kings College London, the University Department of Medicine at Leeds General Infirmary, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm & as a Wellcome Trust Senior Lecturer at Charing Cross Medical School. He is past President of the Academy of Medical Sciences & Executive Chairman of Academic Health Solutions.

Non-executive director, Professor Sir John Tooke


Dr Mackay is a scientist with a PhD in Pharmacology from Manchester University. She has held roles in life science companies spanning multiple disease areas & technologies and was previously on the executive management team at Innovate UK. She is also non-executive director of the Antimicrobial Resistance Centre.

Non-executive director, Dr Kath Mackay

Managing Director of Bruntwood SciTech’s Alderley Park


Dr Sheffield CBE is a qualified Consultant Histopathologist with over 39 years’ experience working the in the NHS as a doctor, medical and general manager. He was previously Chief Executive Officer of the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network where he oversaw performance of the network.

Non-executive director, Dr Jonathan Sheffield OBE


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