Testimonials

BELS is a very valuable asset  
Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at University of Oxford,  Chair of UK Industrial Strategy Board

Universities in the UK generate tremendous expertise in the health and life sciences. Our alumni abroad are not only great ambassadors for our institutions, but are also essential to fostering the sort of international collaboration that is vital to tackling some of today’s great global challenges –ranging from climate change and food security, to antimicrobial resistance and cancer research. That is why BELS and its networks matter.   
Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, formerly Vice-Chancellor, University of Cambridge; currently Chairman, Cancer Research UK

After several decades of life in America, I am still amazed by the influential presence of British expatriates that have made their mark and ascended to very senior positions. BELS promises to be a strong focal organization that will harness and put to use the accumulated insights and experience of this important cross-cultural group.    Dr David U’Prichard, Chairman of Cyclacel, Berkeley Heights NJ and CSO of Biomotiv, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

George Bernard Shaw claimed ‘England and America are two countries separated by a common language.’ As a dual national with over 15 years of biopharmaceutical experience from each nation, I believe the opportunities to learn from each other are immense. We have a common heritage, but we do things differently. Diversity is a source of innovation, and BELS can facilitate an exchange of ideas through its extensive network of experienced, expatriate life science executives, for the benefit of our industry, and the patients we serve.  
Dr Stephen Hill, CEO, Faraday Pharmaceuticals, Seattle, Washington, USA

BELS is doing great work – UK Life Sciences have never needed international networking more than at present. BELS has my strong personal support.   
Professor Sir John Savill, Chief Executive, Medical Research Council, UK

As they say, ‘Home is where the heart is’ and to that point I believe all expats feel an obligation and a duty to contribute something back to the homeland.  BELS will provide the vehicle to concentrate all of our individual efforts into a focused approach to support transatlantic activities that benefit all involved. 
John Houghton, Global Franchise Head–Roxadustat, AstraZeneca, Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA

Britain gave me a great education I would have struggled to afford in America. The US then gave me great opportunities I would have struggled to find in the UK. In every one of these I have found myself working alongside other Brits with similar experiences. Hopefully, by working together through BELS we can help our counterparts back in the UK create more of these opportunities on home soil.   
Dr Vincent Miles, Partner of Abingworth Management, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA

I am delighted to hear that BELS is being reactivated.  As you know, three of my four college degrees were obtained at UK universities and my first professional position was at the MRC Toxicology Unit then based in Carshalton, Greater London. The UK higher education system and the Health and Life Sciences sector were unduly generous to me as I was developing my career. The opportunity to pay back into this sector while strengthening my connections to it is most welcome, and I am certain that many of my expat colleagues feel the same way.   
Dr Stephen Naylor, Chairman & CEO, MaiHealth, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

UK universities continue to produce some of the world’s greatest leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs. Many of these individuals have gone abroad and achieved amazing things for patients, industry and society. In parallel, the UK has built many world leading infrastructures and data resources such as the UK Biobank and the Sanger Centre; a number of billion pound companies such as Oxford Nanopore and Immunocore; leadership in open science such as that underway at University of Oxford; and a national healthcare infrastructure that is willing to test, validate and adopt major health care transformations. We in the UK will be better equipped to fully realise the fruits of these investments if we can attract back to the UK some of our great alumni, as these people, with whom BELS is strengthening connections to the UK, can help us generate more affordable health care for ageing societies by pursuing novel win-win partnerships with non-traditional stakeholders, including patient groups, universities, and more collaboration with organisations globally in the sector.   
Professor Chas Bountra, PhD, Chief Scientist & Head of the Structural Genomics Consortium/ University of Oxford

I was fortunate to be able to participate in the original BELS group, based in Cambridge, MA, over the course of several years. This served as an excellent means to network with UK expat Biotech leaders and to keep up to date with established and emerging biotechs from the UK. The discussions at such BELS events were invariably lively, informative and fun…… Nigel’s BELS Xmas party jokes are legendary and underlined the importance of his somewhat larger-than-life personality in making BELS a reality and a forum that everyone eagerly attended.   
Dr Ronald Farquhar, Biotech Investor, Morningside, Newton, Massachusetts, USA

BELS is a very attractive concept. I think many expats feel that they can provide a bridgehead to the UK at many levels but lack an organization through which they can contribute.   
Dr Geoffrey Cox, Principal, Beacon Street Advisers, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

I strongly endorse the idea behind BELS. After the wonderful education I received in the UK, it’s nice to give something back. I expect that my experience in the healthcare community in the US, both in large pharmaceuticals and especially in the biotechnology sector, is of value to those in the UK that are trying to capitalize on its outstanding scientific talent pool. BELS also provides the opportunity to connect with a new generation of talented scientists, and perhaps help them commercialize their ideas and technologies.   
Dr Alan Lewis, Serial board member, San Diego, California, USA

It would certainly seem that BELS is a very important and influential network and one we should ensure we engage with for relevant topics, especially as we think about the way forward post Brexit, but also more broadly in informing the international life science community about the many positive aspects of the UK environment.   
Dr Ian Hudson, CEO, The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), UK

When I meet with life sciences companies around the world, I am constantly reminded of how many industry leaders were educated in the UK.  Until BELS was created, there was no effort to identify British expats in life sciences let alone bring them together to build a community.  BELS has stepped in to fill this gap and helps life sciences expats to reconnect with the UK; rediscover our world-class capabilities; appreciate the outstanding facilities here; identify potential opportunities and engage with leaders in the UK sector.  The BELS Alumni Summit was an eye opener for many expats – the UK community still boasts cutting-edge science and has a willingness to collaborate and welcome back alumni who want to get involved and give something back.   
Dr Daniel Mahony, Portfolio Manager, Polar Capital, London

Feedback on BELS inaugural UK event–The Alumni Summit in Oxford

The Alumni Summit assembled a remarkable mix of people… We need to find new ways to talk to each other and work together. This has been a terrific way to start that dialogue.  Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at University of Oxford, The Alumni Summit Chair

The conference was very timely and I have had offers of collaborations and business advice already.  Prof Sarah Blagden, University of Oxford Department of Oncology, UK

It was a terrific event. Great networking and I learned a tremendous amount. I would be very interested in participating more in future. We are working on several initiatives in Oxford and the Summit certainly helped to make connections stronger.   Dr Rupert Vessey, President, Research and Early Development, Celgene, USA

Maintain and develop this event.  Simon Russell, Chief Business Officer, Creabilis, Switzerland

What a valuable experience – impressive energy and creativity in our Oxford community, both in ‘the locals’ as well as in the Oxford global diaspora. I know there will be a great deal of interest in your work as well as in the potential business opportunities when we return to the Bay Area.  Dr Theresa Wright, Senior Medical Director, Genentech, USA

Hold more of these events so that connections made may be strengthened.  I found the idea that rather than competing with the USA in terms of therapeutic-focused biotechs the UK is instead focusing upon its strengths in the genetic technologies area. I found this both exciting and fascinating.  Simon Blake, Sr Director, Scientific Licensing for Immunology, Johnson & Johnson, USA

I was inspired to learn about ways in which the NHS sees itself as a catalyst for innovation.   Dr Ronald Farquhar, Biotech Investor, Morningside, USA

The content of the meeting was thought provoking and provided a fascinating insight into how much things are changing within academic research community. I was positively surprised at how much the UK was doing particularly in big data and healthcare records. The US has a lot to learn from these efforts.   Dr John Richards, VP Global Technical Development, The Medicines Company, USA

I’d like to see more meetings with opportunities to meet with UK government, companies, start-ups, entrepreneurs, scientists and academic institutions.  Gordon Wong, Head of New Frontier Science, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, USA

It was great to see you in Oxford and congratulations on the conference which I think was a tremendous success.  I’ve already begun this process (strengthening connections) with introductions to possible collaborations regarding precision drug discovery approaches.  Dr Dominic Behan, CSO, Arena Pharmaceuticals, USA

I really enjoyed the conference – I made some very helpful business connections.   Heather Preston, Managing Director, TPG Biotech, USA

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