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 The BSGCT Board 

President's Letter

Dear member or sympathiser, Welcome to the British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy (BSGCT) website. Our Society was founded in 2003 with the goal of advancing the science and practice of gene therapy for the public benefit, an aim which is quickly becoming a clinical reality. Gene and Cell therapies are formally known as Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs) in the UK and European Union. Technically, the definition of ATMP includes products based on genes, cells or tissues. Our field of expertise also covers short, chemically synthesized nucleic acids (oligonucleotides) that can alter gene function, and all the modifications that can be introduced by genome editing. Collectively, these therapeutics offer avenues of treatment for previously intractable genetic diseases as well as novel approaches for common diseases. Some of these technologies have also been instrumental for the development of mRNA and viral vector vaccines for COVID-19, which have minimised the effects of the pandemic. Not surprisingly, advanced therapeutics are a priority area in the UK Industrial Strategy and present significant opportunities for health benefit and economic growth. We have therefore entered a very exciting phase, where gene and cell therapy drugs are becoming mainstream treatments as well as crucial industrial products. However, the production and delivery of advanced therapeutics is complex and expensive, and significant challenges lie ahead. Every stage in the therapeutic development and delivery process will require innovation, including pre-clinical and clinical studies, manufacturing, approval, pharmaceutical logistics, clinical delivery and reimbursement (the negotiation of a price between manufacturer and NHS or insurer that allows the manufacturer access to the market). Realistic and transparent pricing by manufacturers, and novel evaluation methods by healthcare agencies, will be required to ensure that gene and cell therapies become universally available, but also that fair profits from these innovative technologies support future R&D. In addition, due to the explosive growth of our industry, skill shortages are threatening to become a major limitation to further advancing gene and cell therapies, which needs to be urgently addressed through Higher Education and Training Programmes, including Apprenticeships and Placements. I took over as President in late 2021, with a mandate of four years. My predecessor Prof Uta Griesenbach did a magnificent job piloting the society through the most complicated period since its inception, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For three years it was not possible to hold an annual meeting. Fortunately, the conference in Sheffield in 2019 was extremely successful both scientifically and financially, which allowed BSGCT to cope with the reduction in income experienced throughout the pandemic. Our highly anticipated joint meeting with the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy in Edinburgh 11-14th October 2022 put an end to this hiatus and returned the society to a solid financial position. During the pandemic BSGCT developed very successful online activities, which are now well-established, including a rota of monthly seminars in which scientific, early career researcher (ECR) development and public & patient outreach talks alternate. For my mandate we have decided to focus on three priority areas, in addition to all our regular activities (annual conference, public education day, ECR conference, participation in relevant events organized by others like Rare Disease Day, online seminars, newsletter, blogs…). These three priorities are: (1) to increase the membership of the society, for it to be truly representative of the gene and cell therapy community in the UK; (2) to establish an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Sub-Committee which will inform all activities of the society and reach out to enhance Global Majority membership; and (3) to ensure that training and promotion opportunities within the BSGCT Board allow for an equal, diverse and inclusive distribution of officer posts. To highlight scientific achievement in the gene and cell therapy field in the UK, and to acknowledge exceptional support for the activities of the society, BSGCT has recently decided to establish two new prizes: an Outstanding Achievement Award, for scientific attainment, and a Services to BSGCT Award, for sustained support of our endeavours. These prizes will be awarded biannually during the 3-day annual conferences, with the first round of awards in 2024 (BSGCT holds 3-day and 1-day annual conferences on alternate years. The ESGCT/BSGCT joint meeting in Edinburgh 2022 is in lieu of a 3-day conference. BSGCT 2023 will be a 1-day meeting on June 23, hosted at GSK facilities in Stevenage). These new awards will join the well-established Fairbairn Award, given to a UK-based PhD student or researcher who has completed their PhD within the last 3 years, for the best presentation during the annual conference. BSGCT was established to foster communication and collaboration in the UK, with the aim of accelerating scientific progress and promoting fast translation from bench to bedside. Please help us with these efforts by becoming a member of our Society. With very best wishes Rafael J. Yáñez-Muñoz (BSGCT President 2021-2025)

Our Board

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President

Professor Rafael J. Yáñez-Muñoz

Royal Holloway University of London 

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Board Member

Dr Ivana Barbaric

Centre for Stem Cell Biology, The University of Sheffield

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Board Member

Dr Christos Georgiadis

UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health

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Board Member

Dr Gerry McLachlan

University of Edinburgh

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Treasurer

Professor Alan Parker

Cardiff University

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Board Member

Jacqueline Barry

Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult

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Early Career Representative

Rebeca Gil Garzon

Royal Holloway University of London

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Board Member

Dr Mustafa Munye

Complement Therapeutics

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General Secretary

Professor Stuart Nicklin 

University of Glasgow

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Early Career Representative

Dr Robyn Bell

Imperial College London

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Board Member

Dr Rajvinder Karda

University College London

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Board Member

Dr Beata Surmacz-Cordle

GSK

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Board Member

Dr Alex Baker

Accession Therapeutics

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Early Career Representative

Dr Carly Bliss

Cardiff University

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Board Member

Dr Giulia Massaro

University College London

 

Join the Board

BSGCT Board members serve for a 3 year term, and are eligible for re-election for a further 3 years. Candidates for election to membership of the Board must be members of the Society, and nominations should be supported by two current BSGCT members.

BSGCT also recruits Early Career Representatives to the BSGCT Board. ECRs stand for 2 years and can be re-elected for another 2 years. They are responsible for advising the board from a student's/first post-doc's perspective and for developing recruitment strategies and events centred around early career BSGCT members. Candidates must be BSGCT members.

 

APPLICATIONS ARE NOW OPEN >

 

If you would like to express an interest in becoming a board member please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will let you know when the next call for nominations is made.