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25 January, 2006 - 22:04 By Staff Reporter

Stem cell research, renewable energy and NHS innovation are all within the Archer remit


guest speaker profile


guest speaker profile

Dr Mary Archer

The guest speaker at the East of England Business Awards presentation dinner on March 1 is Dr Mary Archer, a key figure in three of the region’s most exciting emerging technology segments.

Dr Archer is a figurehead for the region’s foremost organisations in stem cell research, renewable energies and healthcare research.

Industry watchers have singled out these three areas as key drivers for the future growth of the East of England’s knowledge economy.

Dr Archer is chairman of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, of which Addenbrooke’s is a part; chair of the East of England Stem Cell Network; and president of the National Energy Foundation and the UK Solar Energy Society.

Her informed perspective on these fast-moving arenas will be of interest to the host of invited companies which operate in these or associated markets, but given the amount of public interest in stem cells, for example, the more casual observer also.

Stem cells, found in human tissue, bone marrow and early stage embryos, are regarded as a potential source of cells for regeneration of tissue.

A burgeoning stem cell cluster has grown up around key research centres, particularly the University of Cambridge and has been further boosted by the arrival of top scientists from the US, for example, Prof Roger Pedersen who now heads up the multi-million pound Cambridge Stem Cell Initiative.

When a snapshot was taken of the region’s stem cell capability in March 2005, it was estimated that there were over 150 scientists and 45 research, infrastructure, and commercial organisations active in the sector.

The region’s research and commercialisation efforts were handed further impetus and direction with the formation of the East of England Stem Cell Network, of which Dr Archer agreed to be chair in October 2004.

Dr Archer is a former scientist specialising in the direct conversion of solar energy to chemical fuels or electric power.

In addition to her current presidency of the National Energy Foundation, which promotes energy efficiency; Dr Archer has also served on the DTI Energy Advisory Panel.

She has also edited a series of books published by Imperial College Press on Photoconversion of Solar Energy, with titles including Clean Electricity from Photovoltaics and Molecular to Global Photosynthesis.

Given her long-standing involvement in research into ‘alternative’ energies, Dr Archer is also well-placed to deliver the inside track on the state of play in the renewables market.

Among the highlights of another strong year for the East of England’s renewables cluster are the opening of a £4m centre for offshore renewables and the launch of Cambridge University spin-out Enecsys, which has the potential to drastically reduce the cost of ownership of solar energy, making it accessible to the average household.

Dr Archer’s position as chairman of Cambridge’s NHS Trust enables her to give special insight into what is one of the most exciting hospital expansion projects anywhere in the world – Addenbrooke’s ‘2020 Vision.’

Addenbrooke’s is planning to be one of the UK’s top academic clinical centres, with an income of over £300m per year and 6,000 staff.

The hospital already provides a centre of research excellence, with an exceptionally high concentration of University departments and research institutions, together with the NHS Trust and all its facilities.

The enlarged campus, which is set to become home for heart and lung specialist, Papworth Hospital and already boosts the £40m Cancer Research, is expected to be a magnet for research investment from private, public and charitable sectors.

The region is already home to one fifth of the world’s Nobel Laureates in medicine and chemistry; it is hoped that the new Addenbrooke’s will produce world-leading breakthroughs, with real clinical benefit, for years to come.

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