New trustees at Life
Centre for Life

New trustees at Life


The International Centre for Life in Newcastle has welcomed five new trustees to its board, appointed to help the pioneering science village focus more fully on communicating science and scientific developments to the public.

Less than ten years after it opened in May 2000, the £90million Centre for Life complex is established as one of the most successful of the country's 14 landmark Millennium projects. Over 500 people from 30 countries now work on site including research scientists, clinicians, educationalists and business people.  Its mission is to communicate science and scientific developments to the public and to encourage and support the world-class scientific research happening on site.


Alastair Balls, Chairman of the Centre for Life, said: "We are very fortunate in being able to attract a range of high calibre Trustees of strong national as well as local reputation. This reflects the importance of science to the future of this region and the role the Centre for Life has been able to play since its beginning in providing the foundations for some of its outstanding successes in the fields of both world class research and education"


The new trustees are Clive Cookson, Science Editor at The Financial Times; freelance science correspondent, Quentin Cooper; Professor Andrew Wathey, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University; Jackie Fisher, Chief Executive of Newcastle College and Professor Nick Wright, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation at Newcastle University.


Clive Cookson said: "I was delighted to be invited to join the Board. I've followed and admired Life since its foundation. I hope to help the Centre become even more responsive to the media than it already is."


Quentin Cooper added: "I've long enthused about the Centre for Life as an excellent and all-too-rare example of real cutting-edge science going on not in some anonymous lab somewhere, but in the heart of a major city.  I admire the way it is set up which allows everyone in the community access to that science and promotes understanding of the vital role it plays in all our lives. I'm hoping to help it do this better in any way I can, and perhaps even to spread this centralised, energised science approach to other parts of the UK and beyond...although the immediate goal is to make the Centre mean even more to people in and around Newcastle."


Jackie Fisher said: "I am delighted to have been asked to be a trustee. My particular interests are raising people's awareness of science and how it shapes our society and enabling non experts to engage in meaningful debate on scientific ideas. I very much admire the work the Centre for Life has done in both these areas and look forward to being fully involved."


Andrew Wathey said: "Life is a unique organisation, melding cutting-edge science with strong links into the community. I greatly admire its work and am excited by its future potential and contribution to understanding science. It is both a pleasure and a privilege to be joining the Board at this point in the Centre's history."


The Centre's public science centre, which attracts over 220,000 visitors annually, is a regional focus for science communication and is recognised nationally and internationally as being a vibrant and exciting base where science is explored and debated through an extensive public engagement programme.


Linda Conlon, Chief Executive at the Centre for Life, said: "The executive team is really looking forward to working with the new trustees.  They bring a wealth of experience, expertise and energy to the table which will give a great boost to our science communications programme."



Notes to editors:


The International Centre for Life is a pioneering science village based in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne. As an independent and self-funding charitable trust, its robust business model eliminates reliance on national or local government funding and has led to the development of a respected education and public engagement programme through the Life Science Centre and support for first class research facilities to on site partners.


On-site partners include The Institute of Human Genetics, where geneticists from Newcastle University work alongside staff from the NHS Northern Genetics Service.  Within the Bioscience Centre, tenants include the NHS Newcastle Fertility Centre and the North EastEngland Stem Cell Institute (NESCI).  The synergy between these disciplines has produced spectacular results and secured Life international recognition and a reputation as a world leader. 

Principle research happening on site includes: cancer research, genome instability, cardiovascular research, complex genetic disorders, human reproductive cell biology, neuromuscular disease, stem cell biology and renal disease. 


Since 2000, the Centre for Life has earned worldwide headlines for advances in stem cell technology and its Science Centre holds the current NorthEast England Visitor Attraction of the Year accolade.


Clive Cookson has worked in science journalism for the whole of his professional life.  He graduated in chemistry from Oxford University in 1974.  After journalism training on the Luton Evening Post, he became science correspondent of the Times Higher Education Supplement in London and then spent four years in Washington as American Editor of THES.

He returned to London in 1981 as technology correspondent of the Times and moved to BBC Radio as science correspondent in 1983. He joined the Financial Times as technology editor in 1987 and has been Science Editor of the FT since 1991.

Quentin Cooper is a science journalist and current presenter of The Material World on Thursday afternoons on BBC Radio 4.  He also speaks at science festivals and lectures, and works regularly with science and educational organisations such as the Royal Society and the British Council.

He studied Psychology and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh.  In October 1994, he wrote a book with Paul Sullivan, called Maypoles, Martyrs, and Mayhem: 366 days of British customs, myths and eccentricities about superstitions (ISBN 978-0747518075).

At the BBC, he started as a producer in News and Current Affairs, then moved to produce youth programmes at Radio Scotland (in Glasgow), and Radio 5 in Manchester where he created programmes such as Hit The North.

Jackie Fisher is Chief Executive and Principal of Newcastle College, one of the largest further education colleges in the country with over 30,000 students, around seven thousand of whom are full time.  In addition to her role as College Principal, Jackie sits on the Board of One North East, the Regional Development Agency for the Northeast of England.  She is also on the Higher Education Funding Council and has recently become a Board member of Business Link Northeast, a Business Support Organisation for Northeast England.

Professor Andrew Wathey is Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University. He was previously Senior Vice-Principal at Royal Holloway University of London (2006-08), serving also as Vice-Principal Planning & Resources (2003-6), Dean of Arts (2002), and Head of Music (2000-02). He was appointed Professor of Music History at Royal Holloway in 1999, having been, from 1989, successively, Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader. As Senior Vice-Principal he had policy responsibility for strategic planning and for the College's financial resources and the estate, leading the development of Royal Holloway's Corporate Strategy 2005-2010, developing strategic collaborations, and overseeing a £100m capital programme. He also led its Music Department to a 5** in the 2001 RAE.

In addition to his role as Vice-Chancellor, Professor Wathey is Chair of Universities for the North East, Deputy Chair of the University Alliance, and sits on the Board of 1NG and the CBI Regional Council. 

Professor Nick Wright joined Newcastle University in 1994 and is currently Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation; with overall responsibility for the University’s research and innovation strategy. He has widespread experience of advanced technology and has developed significant new product platforms for a wide range of international companies across a number of industrial sectors. His personal research activities lie in the application of new materials technologies to novel electronic devices and systems; ranging from electronics for extreme environments and energy applications to innovative types of neuro-computing. In recent years, he has been instrumental in helping to develop the emerging agenda for increased commercialisation and economic benefit from University research through the development of an engaged research model.


International Centre for Life board members are:  

Alastair Balls CB         


Alan Kilburn OBE

Deputy Chair and Chair of Audit Committee

Ron Armstrong

Councillor for North Jesmond, representing Newcastle City Council

Clive Cookson

Science Editor, The Financial Times

Linda Conlon

Chief Executive

Quentin Cooper

Freelance Science Writer

Jackie Fisher CBE

Chief Executive, Newcastle College

Dr Steve Gater

Head Teacher, Walker Technology College

Sir Ian Gibson CBE

Non-Executive Chairman, Morrisons

Ray Hudson

Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Regional Strategy and Queen's Campus

Andrew Wathey

Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Northumbria University

Nick Wright

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Newcastle University