As the field of biotechnology continues to advance, it is the voice and insights of the experts that drive innovation, shape the industry, and offer a vision of what the future holds. Since the London Biotechnology Show draws near, we are excited to introduce you to the brilliant minds and industry leaders who will take the podium, sharing their insights, expertise, and vision for the future of biotechnology. From pioneers in genetic research to innovators in pharmaceuticals and beyond, this blog will provide an exclusive glimpse into the impressive lineup of speakers who are set to inspire and enlighten the audience at the London Biotechnology Show.
Chief Digital Health Officer, R&D at AstraZeneca
Cristina Durán serves as the Chief Digital Health Officer for Research & Development (R&D) in her current capacity. With a robust background spanning over a decade at AstraZeneca, she has garnered extensive experience across global commercial, in-country commercial, finance, and R&D domains. In her latest role, she spearheads global clinical development transformation efforts across R&D functions, with a strong emphasis on enhancing patients' experiences and outcomes.
Before her tenure at AstraZeneca, Cristina Durán excelled as a senior management consultant at Accenture. Her achievements included spearheading large-scale transformation initiatives, such as setting up a new joint venture between two technology companies, which has since become a major business for a prominent retailer. She also played a pivotal role in guiding business transformation strategy reviews and implementing global change initiatives for major telecommunications companies.
Cristina Durán is a passionate advocate for innovation and holds a strong commitment to enhancing enterprise value by inspiring organisations to adapt for the future. She has been a featured speaker at conferences, including the Digital Health World Congress and the Financial Times Global Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Conference, where she shared insights on utilising innovative technologies to transform patients' lives. As a chartered accountant (CIMA) and a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Leading Enterprise Transformation program, Cristina Durán embodies a dedicated and influential leader in the field of digital health and pharmaceutical innovation.
Dr. Jose Manuel Cervera Grau
Executive Director at Eli Lilly and Company
Dr. Jose Manuel Cervera Grau, currently serving as the Executive Director at Eli Lilly and Company, embarked on his journey in the field of biotechnologies back in 2012, specifically at the inception of Advanced Therapies. His dedication as an Oncologist within Big Pharma, commencing in September 2016 and continuing to the present day, has seen him actively engage in international research organisations. In a versatile cross-functional role covering Spain and Portugal, Dr. Cervera Grau has played a pivotal role in the clinical development of Lilly's portfolio. He has dived deep into the realm of clinical trials and preclinical studies for new drugs, spanning from the First Human dose to Phase III/IV. His expertise extends to regulatory terms and access negotiation, and he has excelled in pre-launch and clinical launching of drugs, contributing to brand plan development and operational support for all relevant areas, from research and development to clinical operations, marketing, and sales.
Among his noteworthy attributes are exceptional management and leadership skills, a penchant for strategy and innovation, proficiency in technology and operations, adept management of value chains, and a remarkable blend of emotional intelligence and empathy. Dr. Cervera Grau's path to acquiring these capabilities has been marked by intense work across ten hospitals, encompassing basic science and preclinical research in Advanced Therapy Medicinal Product. His achievements include the development of drugs derived from human sources, such as Wharthon's jelly MSCs, fat, and dental pulp, aimed at regenerating damaged soft tissues, addressing chronic stroke, and mitigating chemotherapy-induced damage. His contributions extend beyond clinical practice, as he has authored books, papers, and presented at international meetings, while actively participating in numerous advanced projects in the national healthcare landscape, demonstrating an exceptional ability to collaborate within diverse teams to resolve complex challenges.
Hans S. Keirstead
Chief Executive Officer at Immunis
Hans S. Keirstead, Ph.D., a distinguished figure in the field of stem cell research and therapy development, currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer and a Board Member. Dr. Keirstead's expertise spans across a wide spectrum of medical conditions, from late-stage cancers to immune disorders, motor neuron diseases, spinal cord injuries, and retinal diseases. He plays a pivotal role as CEO at AIVITA Biomedical, furthering the company's mission and goals.
His accomplished career includes serving as the Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of Caladrius, which acquired California Stem Cell in 2014. Dr. Keirstead founded California Stem Cell, where he assumed the role of CEO and skillfully managed the company's three rounds of investment and eventual sale, significantly benefiting investors.
Over the past 18 months, Dr. Keirstead has been instrumental in securing approximately $22 million in grants through successful applications. His involvement extends to holding Board positions in several prominent biotechnology companies.
Previously, Dr. Keirstead was the founder and CEO of Ability Biomedical, a company that developed technology eventually acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb, resulting in substantial gains for investors. Concurrently, he held the position of Professor at the University of California at Irvine. Notably, he founded and directed the Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, raising a remarkable $77 million to establish its research facility. As a Full Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology during his 15-year tenure, he secured over $16 million in grants, published more than 100 manuscripts, and obtained over 20 patents.
Dr. Keirstead's exceptional contributions to the field earned him numerous awards, including the Distinguished Award for Research and the UCI Innovation Award. He was also a founding advisor of the California Stem Cell Initiative, instrumental in the creation of an $8.5 billion stem cell fund (CIRM). His valuable insights have made him a trusted advisor to several governments on biomedical policy.
Dr. Keirstead's academic journey began with a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of British Columbia, Canada, for which he received the prestigious Cameron Award, recognizing his outstanding doctoral thesis. He furthered his academic pursuits with four years of Postdoctoral studies at the University of Cambridge. His academic accomplishments culminated in the distinct honour of being elected as a Senate Member of the University of Cambridge and Fellow of the Governing Body of Downing College, making him the youngest individual to attain these positions.
Judy H. Chou, Ph.D.
President & CEO at AltruBio Inc.
Dr. Judy H. Chou, Ph.D. is a prominent figure in the field of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, currently serving as the President, CEO, and a member of the Board of Directors at AltruBio, Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company with a keen focus on pioneering novel antibody therapeutics for the treatment of immune inflammatory diseases.
With over two decades of extensive experience in drug development and biomanufacturing, Dr. Chou's impressive career includes a leadership role as the head of the global Biotech organisation at Bayer Pharmaceuticals before her tenure at AltruBio. At Bayer, she played a pivotal role in the oversight of the development, manufacturing, and distribution of the company's extensive product portfolio, valued at over $3 billion. She also effectively led a team of more than 2,000 employees and managed drug development and launch activities for Bayer's biologics pipeline. In addition, Dr. Chou held the position of site head for Bayer's Berkeley, California facility, the company's largest manufacturing site in the United States.
Throughout her career, Dr. Chou has held key leadership positions at renowned organisations such as Pfizer, Medivation Inc., Genentech, and Wyeth Biopharma. Her remarkable contributions have earned her several prestigious awards, including the 2018 Most Influential Women in Business award presented by the San Francisco Business Times.
Notably, Dr. Chou is deeply committed to education and diversity in the field. She currently serves as an advisor at the UC Berkeley Engineering School, dedicating her efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the industry through her advisory board position at Silicon Valley Women in Engineering.
Dr. Chou's academic background is equally impressive. She earned her Ph.D. from Yale University, pursued post-doctoral training at the Max-Planck Institute in Germany, and furthered her academic career as a research faculty member at Harvard University Medical School, where her work primarily focused on cell biology and neuroscience. Her remarkable journey continues to shape and influence the field of biotechnology and beyond.
Chief Operating Officer at British In Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA)
Helen Dent serves as Interim Chief Executive Officer at the British In Vitro Diagnostic Association (BIVDA). Helen's primary role is to lead the organisation in advocating the in vitro diagnostics (IVD) sector to various stakeholders, including politicians, policymakers, and the media. She will also focus on supporting BIVDA members in their efforts to enhance patient outcomes.
BIVDA, the national industry association representing manufacturers and distributors of diagnostic tests in the UK, boasts a diverse membership of over 230 organisations and serves as a significant player in the IVD sector. BIVDA members collectively employ more than 9,600 professionals, generate annual sales of approximately £1.2 billion, and make a substantial contribution to UK exports.
With more than twenty years of experience in the industry, Helen has a strong background. Her tenure at BIVDA included over three years as Chief Operating Officer. Before her association with BIVDA, Helen held key positions, such as Supply Chain and Contracts and Pricing Manager for Abbott Diagnostics in the UK and Europe, as well as National Contracts Manager at NHS Blood and Transplant, and roles in NHS Supply Management Confederation and the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency. Her educational qualifications include a Masters Degree in Procurement Law and Policy from the University of Nottingham School of Law and a Masters in Strategic Procurement from the University of Glamorgan.
The speakers we've introduced here represent the pinnacle of their respective fields, each poised to share their insights, experiences, and cutting-edge research. From discussions on the latest breakthroughs to addressing the future of biotechnology, their contributions are sure to leave an indelible mark.
We hope this sneak peek into our remarkable speaker roster has increased your curiosity and kindled your enthusiasm. We invite you to join us at the London Biotechnology Show, where these speakers will take the stage and drive the conversation forward. It's an opportunity not to be missed, where we'll explore the frontiers of biotechnology and witness the potential to transform lives and the world as we know it.