Our Leadership Team

Our 20-strong team boasts deep experience in RNA biology, bioinformatics analytics, neuro-translation and development.

Dr Jan Thirkettle

CEO

Dr Andy Billinton

CSO

Dr Madeleine Wakeling

SVP Programme Management & Operations

Dr Tom Briston

Research Director

Dr Marc Watson

Research Director

Mandy Cowling

EA, Office Manager and HR Lead

Our vision

Building the leading platform for physiological upregulation of neurodegenerative disease targets to enable truly disease-modifying therapies.

Our approach

Deep expertise & unique capabilities in RNA biology & neurodegeneration

High value targets

Ready to scale

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Our programmes

Preventing the progression of Huntington’s Disease

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Our news

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Dr Jan Thirkettle

CEO

Jan has more than 25 years’ experience of pharmaceutical development and has played a leadership role in the commercialisation of therapeutics across all modalities. Jan joined Harness from Freeline Therapeutics where he was start-up CEO and CDO overseeing establishment of a platform for a novel AAV capsid and programme management. Prior to this, Jan held roles at GSK spanning from Discovery to Manufacturing, latterly establishing the cell/gene therapy platform and playing a pivotal role in the commercialisation of Strimvelis, the first ex vivo gene therapy approved by EMA. Jan holds an MA in Chemistry and a DPhil in Biological Chemistry from the University of Oxford.

Dr Andy Billinton

CSO

Andy has more than 22 years’ experience in drug discovery and early development in both big pharma and biotech. Andy joined Harness from Nodthera where he drove translational science, bridging the preclinical and clinical phases. Previously, roles of increasing responsibility were held at MedImmune/AstraZeneca and GSK in neuroscience, leading teams and projects up to phase II. Between these two roles Andy was co-founder and Director of Translational Science and Operations at Transpharmation, a translational CRO. Andy holds a PhD in Neuropharmacology from the University of Birmingham.

Dr Madeleine Wakeling

SVP Programme Management & Operations

Madeleine has over 22 years’ experience in biopharmaceutical research and development, and programme and portfolio management. Previously working for BioVex, GSK, MedImmune, MRC, Autolus, Crescendo and Cellinta, Madeleine has held increasingly senior programme management and leadership positions with vast experience in building and leading high performing matrix teams from discovery to clinical stage across multiple therapeutic areas and modalities. Alongside programme management, Madeleine also has significant alliance and operational management experience. Madeleine holds a PhD in Molecular Virology from the University of Edinburgh and is PMP® certified.

Dr Tom Briston

Research Director

Tom has over a decade’s experience in drug discovery, having spent time in both big pharma and biotech. Tom joined Harness from Eisai, having lead multiple preclinical programs in the neurodegenerative disease space. Tom has extensive experience in CNS cell biology, iPSC-derived systems and disease modelling, and high-content imaging and screening. Tom holds a PhD in Molecular Cell Biology from UCL.

Dr Marc Watson

Research Director

Marc has over 15 years’ experience working in the biopharmaceuticals and biotechnology sector, with expertise in CNS cell biology and neurodegeneration. Marc has extensive experience in CNS in vitro and in vivo modelling and has lead projects on multiple CNS diseases and targets, covering a range of modalities including small molecules, therapeutic antibodies and RNA therapies. Over the last decade Marc has moved from large pharma, with roles at MedImmune and Takeda, into the biotechnology sector at Cerevance and Mission Therapeutics. Most recently, Marc has lead preclinical projects via internal research teams, CROs and academic groups. Marc Holds a PhD in CNS cell biology from the University of Manchester.

Mandy Cowling

EA, Office Manager and HR Lead

Mandy brings over twenty years’ experience and knowledge of supporting Board and Executive teams together with invaluable exposure to Investor Relations management as part of her previous role within the life science sector working for a Plc operating in the UK and France, listed on both AIM and Euronext Growth stock markets. Mandy is Office Manager and Executive Assistant to the CEO and the Leadership Team; and will be responsible for developing evolving business processes and strategic projects. In her role as HR Lead, Mandy will continue to focus on cultivating a workplace that fosters individuality and enables people to flourish by embracing their talents. Mandy and our HR team are striving for a culture at Harness that instils purpose and joy both within and outside out professional responsibilities.