UK SPINE 2022 Annual conference

UK SPINE annual conference slide

Healthspan vs. lifespan:
New medicines to close the gap
27th - 28th June 2022
Alderley Park, Cheshire

Our annual conference is a key event in the UK SPINE calendar and after two years of running it online we are looking forward to welcoming participants in person to the beautiful Alderley Park near Manchester. This year the conference will span two days where the first day will be focused on exploring the scientific research behind healthy ageing and showcasing some of the research UK SPINE has supported. The second day will have a broader focus, bringing in discussions from a range of stakeholders including industry, clinicians, patients and investors.

Registration closed on 10th June. To join the waiting list please e-mail


Day 1: Monday 27th June

Time Session Speaker Summary
11:00 Conference welcome    
11:10 - 12:00 Keynote: The Ageing Research Landscape
12:00 - 12.50 Panel discussion: The patient experience (chair)

Sarah Rudkin
This session will begin with videos from patients discussing their experiences. The panel will consider the specific challenges raised by ageing research, and the importance of including patients and the public to shape priorities.
12:50 - 13:40 Lunch & walk     Register for walk and tour at the conference: 1.10 - 1.30pm
13:40 - 16:00 UK SPINE supported Proof of Concept Translational Fund awardees   In this session we hear from the cutting edge in ageing research, with talks spanning a range of topics to showcase some of the research funded through the UK SPINE
    Understanding the senolytic and senomorphic effects of Zoledronate treatment in an ageing mouse model
    Epigenetics and ageing: can modulation increase lifespan?
The effects of 4-months Rapamycin administration on skeletal muscle and immune ageing in older people
    Translation of a new idea on senolytic treatment: mitochondrial co-targeting that increases sensitivity and specificity of senolytics
    Improving vaccination in older adults by inducing Autophagy with spermidine 
16:00 - 16:20 Networking & coffee    
16:20 - 17:30 Workshops   4 breakout sessions to choose from, covering different topics relevant to ageing research. Participants will be asked to select their breakout sessions in advance.
1 ABPI, NIHR, University of Birmingham

Designing and delivering clinical trials to help tackle multimorbidities
2 University of Birmingham PPI in ageing Research
3 University of Dundee, MD Catapult, EMBL-EBI

Ellen McDonagh

Selecting Targets for Multi-morbidity in Ageing
4 University of Oxford, Manchester Metropolitan University
19:00 Dinner at Shrigley Hall Hotel Ageless - Andrew Steele

Day 2: Tuesday 28th June

8:30 Welcome back  
8:40 - 9:30 Keynote: Healthy longevity for all: A blueprint to maximise equitable health and wealth. Harnessing science, technology, investment and policy for global sustainable impact
9:30 - 10:40 Workshops   4 breakout sessions to choose from, covering different topics relevant to ageing research. Participants will be asked to select their breakout in advance. 
1 MHRA Marc Bailey (Chief Science, Research and Innovation Officer)
Glenn Wells
The evolving role of the MHRA and support for innovation
2 Medicines Discovery Catapult Translational Biomarkers
3 The Crick, MultiplAI, Magnitude Biosciences, Oxford Science Enterprises

Fireside reflections on the journey from start-ups in the healthy ageing space
4 University of Birmingham Mel Calvert

Determining outcomes assessment for healthy ageing trials
10:40 - 11:10 Networking    
11:10 - 11:45 University of Sussex Boundary-spanning collaborations for academic drug discovery: Opportunities and Challenges 
11:45 - 12:50 Panel discussion: Industry (chair)

The industry panel will explore what’s on the horizon for ageing research, and the challenges and opportunities ahead for companies working in this sector.
12:50 - 13:00 Conclusions  

How to get to Alderley park

The Travelling to Alderley Park brochure

Please note that the most convenient train stations are Wilmslow and Macclesfield which have taxi ranks and buses, Alderley Edge does not. If you are driving please follow signs to the conference car park once you get to Alderley Park.


Please take a look at the accommodation options.

Dinner will be at the Shrigley Hall Hotel, please say you are attending the UK SPINE conference if you are booking at the Shrigley Hall Hotel. Places for dinner are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Floor plan

APCC Floor Plan

Alderley park aerial
Andrew R Leach

Andrew R Leach

Head of Industry Partnerships and Head of Chemical Biology: EMBL-EBI

At EMBL-EBI Andrew is responsible for a number of widely-used resources including ChEMBL, SureChEMBL, UniChem and ChEBI. His group is also involved in various international collaborations and consortia including Illuminating the Druggable Genome, Open Targets and EUbOPEN. His industry team works with the many commercial organisations and companies that make extensive use of the EBI's resources. He joined EMBL-EBI from GSK, where he was involved in the development and application of new platform capabilities for drug discovery in areas including computational chemistry and cheminformatics, fragment-based drug discovery, cardiovascular safety, proteomics and biological mass spectrometry. He also contributed to therapeutic projects and led GSK’s early Discovery portfolios against protease, ion channel and epigenetic targets.

Brian Marsden

Brian Marsden

Associate Professor, Research Informatics

Brian is responsible for driving research informatics and research computing capabilities at the Kennedy Institute and the Centre for Medicines Discovery.

After completing a D.Phil. within the Iain Campbell lab at the University of Oxford, Brian was awarded a Wellcome Trust Prize Fellowship which he spent at the Abagyan lab at the Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, USA, devising novel methods for proteins structure superimposition and also implementing high performance compute and storage clusters. He then worked as part of the Computational Chemistry group at BioFocus PLC before settling down at the SGC in Oxford and now the Centre for Medicines Discovery where he continues to be responsible for all aspects of Informatics, IT and structural bioinformatics. He has a particular interest in the development of novel data capture and visualisation methods for structural and chemical biology data.

Chas Bountra

Chas Bountra

Project Lead, UK SPINE: Knowledge Exchange

Chas is Professor of Translational Medicine in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine and Associate Member of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Oxford. He is also a Visiting Professor in Neuroscience and Mental Health at Imperial College, London. Chas is an invited expert on several government and charitable research funding bodies, and an advisor for many academic, biotech and pharma drug discovery programmes. In 2012 he was voted one of the “top innovators in the industry”, in 2014 received the “Rita and John Cornforth Award” from the Royal Society of Chemistry, in 2017 and 2018 was voted “Master of the Bench” from the Medicine Maker Power List, and in 2018 was awarded the “Order of the British Empire” in the New Years Honours List.

Harriet Teare

Harriet Teare

Programme Director, UK SPINE Knowledge Exchange

Harriet Teare was a Researcher in Healthcare and Policy, contributing to a programme of work addressing Global Access to Medicines (in collaboration with members of the Structural Genomics Consortium, Oxford). She had previously provided research governance and ethical support to the DIRECT project: an IMI-JU funded collaboration exploring stratification in Type 2 diabetes, the Rudy Study: a research network for rare diseases of the blood, bone and joints, and led a work package focusing on consent in the Genetics Clinic of the Future:  a Horizon 2020 project mapping the complex challenges that need to be tackled to introduce genome sequencing more widely into the clinic. Harriet obtained a DPhil in Organic and Medicinal Chemistry from Merton College, Oxford, and previously worked as a Senior Policy Advisor at Cancer Research UK, focusing on issues relating to science and research, and public health. Harriet remains an Academic Affiliate of HeLEX.

Clare Denton

Clare Denton

Knowledge Exchange Coordinator

Clare joined the team as the KE coordinator in October 2021.  Her role is to facilitate excellent communication within team, coordinate meetings, events, workshops, conferences and hackathons, focus on patient led trials and support both project manager and KE manager.  Her previous role was Visitor Services Manager at the Museum of Natural History, Oxford University.

Paul Mercer

Paul Mercer

Head of Collaboration: The Francis Crick Institute

Paul has experience working both in the pharma setting and academia through positions at Pfizer, Novartis and Imperial College London before joining the group of Professor Rachel Chambers at UCL. His latest position was a Principal Research Associate at UCL.

Paul has a successful track record of leading collaborative research involving pharma and academia, translating basic research into novel therapeutics for difficult-to-treat chronic respiratory diseases. These projects have ranged from target discovery through to clinical proof of concept.

Graeme Wilkinson

Graeme Wilkinson

Head of Virtual Drug Discover: Medicines Discovery Catapult.

Graeme Wilkinson has a background in applied mechanistic pharmacology gained through a PhD at the department of cell physiology and pharmacology, University of Leicester, and postdoc at the Glaxo Institute of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge.

Graeme joined the pharmaceutical industry with Astra in 1997 and then AstraZeneca, and has worked on drug discovery projects across many disease areas including roles leading open innovation, and drug repositioning activities.

Between 2014 and 2017 Graeme worked independently to develop a portfolio of drug discovery projects through virtual working in addition to acting as R&D director for start-up companies in the urology and auditory fields.

Graeme is now Head of Virtual R&D at Medicines Discovery Catapult with responsibility for delivering externalised drug discovery enabling advice, services and project management to UK life science SMEs and university start ups and spin outs.

Eliot Marston

Eliot Marston

Head of Strategic Projects and Partnerships: University of Birmingham

Eliot supports major research investment programmes aligned to delivery of the University’s Life Sciences Strategy. He works closely with relevant College academic and Professional Services leads on behalf of the University and its partners to represent its interests around Life Sciences to key external organisations, bodies, individuals and stakeholders. He also has a role to maximise the value of partnership working across the region, including Birmingham Health Partners as well as other NHS Trusts, West Midlands AHSN, our LEPs and Midlands Innovation/Midlands Engine, to ensure that the University is best placed to capitalise on these geographic partnerships in the development and securing of major strategic research programmes.

Philippa Crane

Philippa Crane

Knowledge Exchange Manager, UKSPINE

Philippa joined UKSPINE in November 2021, coming from a science policy background, where she has situated herself at the interface between academia and industry. Most recently this has involved research building on over 10 years’ experience in investigating the innovation ecosystem surrounding biomedical technologies, mainly at the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex. Her PhD looked into the dynamics of drug discovery and development, focusing on the non-technical contributors to the termination or successful development of therapeutic projects for rare cancers. Philippa also has experience in knowledge exchange whilst working for the Royal Society (the national academy for science in the UK and commonwealth), where she was part of a small Industry Programme, concerned with integrating industrial science into the broad-ranging activities across the organisation.

Stuart Wilkinson

Stuart Wilkinson

Assistant Director of the Innovation and Engagement team in Research Services at the University of Oxford.

The Innovation and Engagement team supports, promotes and coordinates innovation, knowledge exchange and engagement activities across the University. This includes support for researchers and entrepreneurs and who are seeking to exploit their research and business ideas.

Activities include: Innovation and knowledge exchange policy, strategy and support. Public and societal engagement with research. Regional Engagement. Due diligence for exploitation of research outputs and IP rights management. Enterprise and entrepreneurship through Enterprising Oxford and was instrumental in setting up Oxford Social Enterprise Partnership (OSEP).

Janet Lord

Janet Lord

Professor of Immune Cell Biology and Director of the Institute for Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham.

She is also Director of the MRC-Versus Arthritis Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research and theme lead for sarcopaenia in the NIHR Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre and leads the acute response to injury themes in the NIHR Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre and the Scar Free Foundation Centre for Burns Research.

Her primary research focus is on the effect of ageing upon immune function and how this limits the ability of older adults to resolve inflammation occurring in response to infectious challenge or injury. This has led her to research neutrophil function in healthy elders and also after hip fracture and during infections such as pneumonia. She also researches the link between chronic systemic inflammation and physical frailty in old age and has published papers showing that much of the increased systemic inflammation and sarcopaenia associated with ageing can be prevented by high levels of physical activity in adulthood.

Professor Lord has a particular interest in the role played by stress (physical and psychological) and the altered HPA axis in modulating immunity and frailty in old age and following an injury such as hip fracture. She has published several papers showing that a heightened HPA axis (increased cortisol:DHEAS ratio) is associated with poor outcomes after hip fracture.

In 2013 she was awarded the Lord Cohen of Birkenhead medal for her outstanding research in human ageing by the British Society for Research in to Ageing. She was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2015. She has published over 200 original papers and reviews.

Lynne Cox

Lynne Cox

Associate Professor: Lab of Ageing and Cell Senescence at the Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford.

My lab researches the biological processes underlying ageing, with a particular focus on premature ageing Werner syndrome and cell senescence, a process whereby normal body cells change following damage, stress or after many cell divisions, to a harmful state that contributes to diseases associated with ageing. We are using that core information to identify and test possible new treatments with the aim of improving health in later life. Our work is funded through UKRI (BBSRC, MRC), Research England (UK SPINE), Public Health England, Diabetes UK/BIRAX and philanthropic support from the Mellon Longevity Science Programme at Oriel College, Oxford. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and recipient of the US Glenn Foundation Award for research into the biological mechanisms of ageing, presented at the House of Lords.

I serve on the Clinical and Translational Theme panel of the Biochemical Society, the MRC Ageing Research Steering Group, and strategic advisory board of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Longevity, in which role I co-authored the APPG’s National strategy report on “Health of the Nation – a strategy of healthier longer lives” launched by the Secretary of State of Health and Social Care. Internationally, I am a primary international member of Norwegian Centre for Healthy Ageing Network NO-Age, co-chair of the Special Interest Group in Ageing Biology of the European Geriatric Medicine Society and serve on the quinquennial review panel of the NIA Division of Aging Biology (US). I have very recently been appointed as co-lead of the new Building Links in Ageing Research and Translation Network and national coordinator of the UK-wide Ageing research network UKANet (

Gayle Marshall

Gayle Marshall

Lead Scientist (Biomarkers), Medicines Discovery Catapult

Gayle is a highly successful scientist, with over 20 years of pre-clinical and clinical biomarker research experience.

Gayle has spent the last 4 years setting up and leading the biomarker for precision medicine capability at Medicines Discovery Catapult, funded by Innovate UK. Through collaborative R&D we are supporting translation of medicines from pre-clinical through to a clinical setting, developing and delivering biomarker strategies to de-risk and accelerate clinical development.

Previous to this, Gayle led an oncology translational science laboratory team within AstraZeneca (AZ), supporting biomarker strategies of over 10 drug discovery programs from pre-clinical through to clinical development. Gayle also led assay development and delivering clinical biomarker data across AZ’s Oncology portfolio.

Charlotte Green

Charlotte Green

Scientific Liaison for the Drug Discovery Unit (DDU), University of Dundee.

I joined the DDU in 2018 leaving behind a 10 year academic research career in the area of metabolic disease. My role within the DDU is to evaluate new areas of biology to determine its potential for new therapeutics within the DDU’s Innovative Targets Portfolio (ITP) and identify and develop a pipeline of new collaboration opportunities, building relationships with both academic and industry collaboration partners. I have a background in both pharmacology (BSc Hons) and cell and molecular physiology (PhD).

Satomi Miwa

Satomi Miwa

I was originally a sport scientist and became interested in energy metabolism, mitochondria and oxidative stress. I then obtained my PhD on mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and ageing in Cambridge University under supervision of Prof. Martin Brand. Since then my research interests are in the areas of mitochondrial function in ageing and diseases, and I work both on mechanistic investigation and translational studies. Recently senescent cell targeted therapies that involve manipulation of mitochondrial function have become one of my research focuses.

I am interested in critical evaluation of methodologies and have made an important discovery which explained previously unknown ‘background’ signal in Amplex Red based hydrogen peroxide detection, one of the most widely used methods for ROS measurements by biological materials. I found that carboxylesterase in mitochondrial matrix in various cell types can convert Amplex Red to resorufin in absence of oxygen, light nor any catalysts, and proposed that inhibitors for carboxylesterase such as PMSF should be included in the experiments. This has now become a necessary step for Amplex red assay.

In the area of cell senescence, I have made the original discovery that post-mitotic neurons develop senescent phenotype.  I have also shown the effects of dietary restriction in reducing senescent cells in multiples of tissues, which were linked with improved tissue conditions.

Current research projects:

  • Understanding the nature of mitochondrial dysfunction in senescent cells
  • Novel senolytic discovery, with mitochondrial focus
  • Senescent cell targeted therapies against skin ageing
  • Using senolytics as adjuvant cancer therapies
  • Developing in vivo imaging tool for senescent cell monitoring
Philip Atherton

Philip Atherton

Chair of Clinical, Metabolic & Molecular Physiology

Philip was awarded a BSc (1st class) in 2002, and PhD in 2005 on the subject of skeletal muscle molecular signalling networks. Following a postdoc at the University of Nottingham UK, on a BBSRC grant (molecular mechanisms of age-related sarcopenia), he was awarded an RCUK fellowship in Molecular Physiology, where he studied responses of muscle to nutrition and exercise as a function of age. Thereafter (2012), he was promoted to Associate Professor and then full Professor (2017), at the University of Nottingham. Philip has been PI/Co-I on successful grants >£10M from UK research councils (MRC, BBSRC), charities (e.g. DMT), industry (pharma/nutritional) and EU sources. He has published >250 peer-reviewed articles (H-index 60 (Google Scholar), with ~18,000 citations (rate ~3000/year), an i10 index of 118, and 7 invited book(s) chapters. Philip is Senior Editor for Nutrients, Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism and founding Editor-In-Chief of Physiologia. He is also on the Medical Research Council (MRC) Population & Systems Medicine Board (PSMB). Philip oversees a lab hosting 3 technicians, ~20 clinical/non-clinical students & 3 postdocs. His team are based at Derby postgraduate entry medical school under the auspices of a UK MRC/Versus Arthritis Centre of Excellence for Musculoskeletal ageing research (CMAR) and Nottingham’s National institute for health (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre. Philip’s work involves the combining of detailed clinical physiology with the application of stable isotope tracers, OMICs, and in vivo/vitro molecular biology - to discover predictors of, the mechanistic basis for, and means to mitigate health declines in both ageing and disease(s).

Eleanor Platt

Eleanor Platt

Molecular Scientist within the Biomarkers team at Medicines Discovery Catapult.

Eleanor undertook a degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Bath and completed her M.Phil. in Molecular Cancer Studies at the University of Manchester, with a focus on the role of glucocorticoid receptor in small cell lung cancer cell apoptosis.

She was offered the opportunity to work within the pharmacokinetics laboratory in a large CRO, processing and testing patient biological samples. She subsequently worked within the R&D Department at a leading molecular diagnostics company for five years, developing PCR-based diagnostics to better direct treatment of patients with cancer and infectious diseases.

Eleanor’s current research interests focus on ageing and age-related diseases, particularly expression of age-related biomarkers in plasma and the mechanisms through which bisphosphonates such as Zoledronate may reduce the rate of ageing, as well as the incidence of cancers and cardiovascular disease.

Ghada Alsaleh

Ghada Alsaleh

Ghada first trained as a pharmacist before following her ambition to become a scientific researcher. Ghada had always been fascinated by the research world and did not want to restrict herself to dispensing drugs. After qualifying as a pharmacist, she moved to France to follow her ambition to become a scientific researcher and pursued MSc and doctoral research at the University of Strasbourg under the supervision of Prof Jean Sibilia and Dominique Wachsman. Her PhD project was to study the role of the joint-resident cells known as ‘fibroblast-like synoviocytes’, a crucial cell type in Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), a common autoimmune disease. She showed that these cells, which were considered for a long time passive victims of the disease, behave like cells of the innate immune system. They participate in the production of inflammatory mediators that contribute to the articular destruction and the activation of T and B lymphocytes, which perpetuate the immune response in the synovium. She successfully contributed new insights about the MicroRNAs as a new way of controlling the inflammatory response during rheumatoid arthritis. She discovered miR-346, which acts as a negative regulator of inflammation by inhibiting TNF-α and IL-18 synthesis in activated synoviocytes. This work provided a new mode of inhibition of TNF-a to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

To pursue her career as a scientist, Ghada moved to Oxford in 2017 to join Professor Katja Simon’s group at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology as a post-doc, where she developed a growing curiosity about ageing and the regulation of biological processes that are disturbed during the ageing process. She recently showed that TFEB, a master regulator of autophagy and lysosomal, is specifically reduced in old human lymphoid cells, which contributes to compromised memory T and B cell responses in the elderly. This work has uncovered novel targets and biomarkers for developing anti-ageing drugs for human T cells.

Ghada has recently been awarded a research grant by Versus Arthritis for her proposal “Targeting autophagy for the treatment of osteoarthritis” and joined the Botnar researcher centre as a Senior Research Fellow. Her overall aim is to identify the contribution of the age-related TFEB pathway to the development and progression of osteoarthritis and to use this knowledge to develop new treatments for OA and various age-related diseases.

Mark Ramondt

Mark Ramondt

Co-Founder at MultiplAI

Serial entrepreneur, angel investor and startup mentor/advisor with 25+ years of experience in corporate finance and open innovation at large multinationals. Helped to build the startup ecosystem in Argentina and Latin America over the past 8 years. Passionate about sustainability, equality, and the impact of deep tech like next-gen sequencing and artificial intelligence on quality of life.

MultiplAI Health is a diagnostics company leveraging advances in n