Queen's Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor appointed as Executive’s first Chief Scientific and Technology Advisor

  • Photo: Professor Helen McCarthy

    Professor Helen McCarthy has been announced by First Minister Michelle O’Neill and deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly as the Executive’s first Chief Scientific and Technology Advisor.

    Professor McCarthy, currently Chair of Nanomedicine in the School of Pharmacy, took up the post with the Executive recently. Her key responsibilities include co-ordinating a regional strategy on science and technology, and she will also chair the newly formed NI Science and Technology Advisory Network, which she will do while continuing to work at Queen's part-time.   

    During her time at Queen’s, and after 10 years of research on novel delivery systems for vaccines, Professor McCarthy spun out her technology into pHion Therapeutics. She was CEO for six years and secured almost £10million in funding from Innovate UK. During this time, she won INVENT NI and the All-Ireland Seedcorn Awards.

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    First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “We have world-leading technology businesses here in key sectors. The appointment of Professor McCarthy is an important step to assist the Executive in maximising opportunities. We want to ensure we grow the sector we have, and provide possibilities for emerging sectors which will lead to the creation of higher value jobs, real economic growth and positive social development.”

    Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly stated: “This appointment will help us capitalise on our science and technology capabilities, driving forward our vision for growing our economy in key areas such as cyber security, artificial intelligence, diagnostics, advanced engineering and low carbon technologies, among others. It will help ensure government, academia and business work together to further economic prosperity and sustainable growth.”

    Welcoming the appointment, QUB President and Vice Chancellor Sir Ian Greer added: “We are delighted that Professor McCarthy has been offered such a prestigious position.

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    “Professor McCarthy has been a huge asset to Queen's in her role as Associate Dean of the Graduate School, as well as leading the Postgraduate Research Solutions Centre.

    "More recently, Helen has been Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Academic Business Development working on a range of special projects at a leadership level. I have no doubt that her wealth of experience in both industry and research will be invaluable to her role as Chief Scientific and Technology Advisor to the Northern Ireland Executive, while continuing her role as a Professor here at Queen's on a part-time basis.”

    This is the first time Northern Ireland has had an Executive Chief Scientific and Technology Advisor. The role will focus on advising on matters relating to the extensive science and technology network across government and the wider public sector.

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