60 seconds with Jessica Lee, Strategy and Engagement Manager

Date published: Apr 18 2018

Jessica Lee has recently moved to a new role within the NCRI Executive, and is now our Strategy and Engagement Manager. Here, she tells us about her new role and what it will add to the NCRI’s work.



How long have you worked at the NCRI for, and what will you be leaving behind?

I’ve worked at the NCRI for just over two years, previously launching and managing our CM-Path initiative in cellular molecular pathology that aims to reinvigorate academic pathology in the UK. It’s been a privilege to play a part in bringing together the academic pathology community and to work with the community to tackle some of the key challenges for academic pathology. Over the past two years, the initiative has achieved a huge amount from publishing peer-reviewed publications outlining its vision for training in molecular pathology, delivering training days, increasing the number of pathologists on the NCRI Clinical Study Groups and convening forums to bring together pathologists, regulators, industry and others to overcome some of the key roadblocks in the landscape. I’m looking forward to seeing CM-Path make even more progress over the next couple of years, whilst taking on a new and exciting challenge myself.

Can you summarise your new role and what it will involve?

The aim of my new role is to facilitate collaboration and coordination across the NCRI Partnership to drive progress against the NCRI Strategy. This will involve gathering data and intelligence by working across the NCRI Executive, NCRI Partners and other stakeholders to develop a programme of activity that will support the delivery of our Strategy.

At the moment I’m setting up our Strategy Advisory Group that will provide a forum in which the cancer research landscape can be discussed by experts in the field, and I’m defining standardised processes by which new ideas for NCRI activities will be reviewed and prioritised by the Group in relation to implementing our Strategy. I’ll also be responsible for scoping out and developing new initiatives, as recommended by the Strategy Advisory Group.

In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be working closely with our Partners to find out more about their ongoing work so that I can identify how the NCRI can add value to their activities. The biggest challenge will be to work out how we can most effectively accelerate progress in cancer-related research by working as a Partnership; but I’m looking forward to working with our Partners to figure it out!

What is the first big thing that you want to get done as part of the job?

I’m keen to complete the setup of our new Strategy Advisory Group. We’ll be recruiting new members to the Group to ensure it has the correct expertise to advise the NCRI. We’ve set up a process by which ideas for NCRI activities can be submitted to the Strategy Advisory Group by NCRI Partners, CSGs, Initiatives, the Consumer Forum or the cancer research community. I’m looking forward to seeing how the new process can be used to ensure that we are exploiting new opportunities to progress against the goals of the NCRI Strategy.

Have you had any challenges so far?

I’ve been working to scope out a possible new NCRI initiative around cancer research imaging repositories. It’s been interesting to learn about a new area of research and I’ve already had the opportunity to organise an exciting workshop that brought together radiologists, digital pathologists, biologists and others together to identify the key challenges in collecting, storing and using images for research. However, the imaging landscape is complex and rapidly changing, so it’s been quite a challenge to identify what the role of the NCRI should be. I’m looking forward to taking on the challenge and continuing to work with key stakeholders to define NCRI’s role in this area.

What are you most looking forward to in the next few months?

I’m looking forward to getting on the road to start visiting our Partners and meeting their research teams to find out more about their ongoing activities. I’ll be keeping an eye out for areas where the NCRI can add value to their activities, and for opportunities to develop programmes of work that facilitate collaboration and coordination between our Partners. The ultimate aim will be to work together even more closely as a Partnership, in a way that supports the delivery of the NCRI Strategy for the benefit of people affected by cancer.