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The HRA is governed by a Board composed of five non-executive directors (including the Chair) and three executive directors. Other directors listed below are required to attend board meetings.

As part of our commitment to openness and transparency, board meetings are held in public and board papers and minutes are available on this website. We maintain a formal register of each Board member’s interests as set out in the Code of Accountability for the NHS. Board members are asked to confirm any declarations of interest at each Board meeting and at any time that changes take place. We are also committed to organisational transparency, and publish a range of financial and HR information.


Professor Jonathan Montgomery – Chair of the Health Research Authority

Jonathan Montgomery, HRA Chair

Jonathan is Professor of Health Care Law at University College London. His previous national chair roles include the Advisory Committee on Clinical Excellence Awards (2005-14), the Nuffield Council on Bioethics (2012-17) and the Human Genetics Commission (2009-12). He served on local NHS boards in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight for over twenty years up to March 2013. His roles included chairing the cluster of primary care trusts that commissioned services for the residents of Southampton, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, and Portsmouth. He had previously chaired a strategic health authority and two provider trusts. He was a member of the panel of advisers to the Morecambe Bay Investigation (which reported in 2015) and of the expert Advisory Group on the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (2105-16).

Jonathan chaired the UK Clinical Research Collaboration Working Party on a Strategy for Brain Tissue Banking, and sits on the Scientific Steering Committee of Brain Banks UK. He is a member of the Committee on the Ethical Aspects of Pandemic Influenza. He sat on the Organ Donation Taskforce for its work on presumed consent and has been a member of the Medical Ethics Committee of the British Medical Association. He has been involved in the preparation of ethical guidance in a number of areas of health practice, most recently chairing a task and finish group for the GMC in the production of its new guidance on confidentiality.


Dr Allison Jeynes-Ellis – Non-Executive Director

Allison Jeynes-Ellis, Non-Executive Director

Allison Jeynes-Ellis is a  doctor, and currently is Chief Executive Officer for a start-up company, Avillion LLP,  which focuses on partnering global pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in clinical development and provides financing for these activities. She qualified in medicine from Sheffield University and, after working in the NHS in hospital medicine, moved to the pharmaceutical industry.  She has worked in clinical research for over 20 years, is a research and development specialist in oncology and has taken new oncology medicines successfully through clinical development.  She has held a variety of senior roles in the life sciences sector, including Medical Director for Wyeth UK and Medical and Innovation Director at the ABPI.

She loves developing others and continues to coach doctors through their post- graduate training in pharmaceutical medicine, gives University lectures on oncology clinical development and is often invited to speak at many worldwide congresses on pertinent clinical research issues faced by the life sciences sector.

She is a Fellow of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine, Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and member of the General Medical Council.

Allison is married with a young son who keeps her very active at weekends but, given the opportunity, she loves nothing better than playing a round of golf, although regrets that her handicap is not what is was!


Professor Deirdre Kelly – Non-Executive Director

AF_001_Deirdre_KellyDeirdre Kelly is a Consultant Paediatric Hepatologist, Founding Director of the Liver Unit at Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Professor of Paediatric Hepatology at the University of Birmingham. She is a Council Member of the General Medical Council and an Associate Non- Executive Director at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust. She is the Chair of the Clinician Group for the New Congenital Heart Disease Review and was previously the Chair of the Clinical Implementation Advisory Group for Paediatric Congenital Cardiac Services.

Deirdre is a member of the Advisory Group on Hepatitis and has previously served on a number of expert Advisory Committees and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence’s Programme Development Group for Hepatitis B&C. Her past positions include Medical Vice-Chair, West Midlands, for the Advisory Committee on Clinical Excellence Awards, Commissioner on the Healthcare Commission and the Care Quality Commission. She is a former Medical Director of Birmingham Children’s Hospital, and has been president or chair of many national and international medical organisations and medical advisor to a number of national patient organisations.


Professor Nalin Thakker – Non-Executive Director


Nalin Thakker is Associate Vice-President & Professor of Molecular Pathology at The University of Manchester and Consultant Histopathologist at the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He was an active researcher until recently and has since overseen a major reform of non-financial compliance including research governance at the UK’s largest Russell Group University. He is also a consultant to Unilever and previously served on the Royal College of Pathologists’ Ethics Committee.

Nalin has been an advisor to the Health Research Authority and a member of its Collaboration and Development Forum since its establishment. Prior to this he was a National Research Ethics Advisor to the National Research Ethics Service. Nalin has extensive experience of research ethics, having served as Vice Chair/Chair on both NHS and University research ethics committees. He also sits on the Health Research Authority-Human Tissue Authority Liaison Group and has played an important role in developing HRA policy, position and guidance for use of human tissue in research and for genetic research.


Graham Clarke – Non-Executive Director

GrahamGraham Clarke is the CEO of a life science organisation, based in Cambridge. With both private and public funding, it focuses on developing immunotherapeutics and prophylactics in the fields of anti-infectives and cancer. He is also a Member of the Institute of Cancer Research and a Trustee and Treasurer of the children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent. He has been the independent Chair of Audit & Risk for Mind, the mental health charity.

With a postgraduate degree in Biophysics from Kings College London, Graham transitioned from medical research into R&D management. He is a Fellow of CIMA, first qualifying while working for Deloitte LLP, following an MBA degree. His subsequent positions have included: VP, Strategy & Business Development for GE Healthcare Life Sciences; Head of Executive Decision Support for GlaxoSmithKline R&D; VP, Strategic Product Development, SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals; and a Partner in PA Consulting Group’s healthcare & biotech practice.


Dr Janet Wisely – Chief Executive Health Research Authority

Janet Wisely, HRA Chief ExecutiveJanet Wisely is the Chief Executive of the Health Research Authority. Janet obtained a PhD in Physics from the University of London, joined the NHS in 1992 and has spent her entire working career associated with research and the NHS. Janet is an innovative leader with a track record of successful change management who, as the Director of the National Research Ethics Service, has transformed the UK ethics service into an internationally recognised system for ethical review. She has also been instrumental in delivering wider change through the provision of the Integrated Research Application System which streamlines the application processes for researchers. As Chief Executive of the Health Research Authority, Janet is leading work to further improve the environment for research to make it easier to do good quality, ethical research in the UK.

Janet is an honorary fellow of the faculty of pharmaceutical medicine and in July 2013 was selected onto the inaugural HSJ Inspirational Women list.


Teresa Allen, Interim Chief Executive (Executive Director)

teresaTeresa Allen joined the HRA in 2016 on secondment from NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) where she was Assistant Director for Customer Services. At the HRA Teresa is acting up for the Chief Executive and leading on projects on organisational development, stakeholder engagement and estates.

Her previous roles include Director of Public and Customer Services with the National Blood Service and Marketing Director for two Medical Laboratory Diagnostics Companies.

Teresa is a Chartered Biomedical Scientist with a Fellowship and post graduate Management Diploma from the Institute of Biomedical Science. She has recently served on a number of National Committees including the Department of Health’s National Commissioning Group and their group which developed the European Blood Safety and Quality Regulations, supporting transfusion laboratories in hospitals across England and Wales to adapt their systems to achieve compliance.

During the last few years her role with NHSBT has included oversight and leadership of a number of projects to deliver national, integrated IT solutions which have made NHS Blood & Transplant an organisation that is “easy to do business with”, saved valuable NHS resources and improved hospital customer satisfaction levels.


Ian Cook, Director of Corporate Services (Executive Director)

Ian Cook_croppedIan Cook  leads the Corporate Services Directorate which is responsible for the efficient delivery of a number of key support services, which include HR, Organisational Development, Training, Communications, the Programme Office and Public and Patient Involvement. As the Director responsible for Involvement work, Ian is able to draw on his long experience within local government where he led a variety of community engagement projects, particularly with young people.

Over the last few years Ian has primarily been in working on large scale change programmes. He was Head of the Wiltshire Council Programme Office which co-ordinated the design and delivery of a single council for Wiltshire from five separate pre-existing councils. Subsequently he was Head of Programme and Change Management at the Independent Police Complaints Commission and more recently as a Deputy Director within the Health and Social Care Transition Team at the Dept of Health.


Karen Williams, Director of Finance, Procurement and Estates (Executive Director)

Karen joined the HRA in January 2017 and her main role is to provide financial strategic advice, professional expertise, value added support and assurance to the board, audit committee, executive management team and all colleagues at the HRA.  Karen leads the finance team in the delivery of all financial activites including, business partner support, financial management processes (including management information, budgeting, forecasting), managing the shared finance business service and statutory accounts process.  Karen is also responsible for ensuring there is a strong support for procurement to colleagues across the HRA and also the development and implementation of the HRA’s estates strategy.

For the past 15 years Karen has been director of finance and resources or chief operating officer for a number of charities and the government sector, including the Dartington Hall Trust (which includes Research in Practice and Research in Practice for Adults), The Arts Council and Breast Cancer Care.


In addition to the three Executive Directors, three further directors attend the Board:


Joan Kirkbride, Director of Operations

Joan Kirkbride_colour corrected_cropped

Joan has worked in the NHS for 34 years. She has worked in a broad range of NHS organisations including NHS Acute, Community and Mental Health Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities and has been through many reorganisations over the years. Joan started work as a personal secretary in a District General Hospital and has subsequently held a number of administrative and managerial roles. She has a qualification in Health Services Management and was a mature student at University where she obtained an MBA.

Her first contact with the world of research came in 2000 when she was appointed as Business Manager in the R&D Directorate of the Northern and Yorkshire Regional Office. Joan joined COREC in 2002 as one of ten OREC managers and has been promoted within the organisation over the past ten years to her current role of Director of Operations.


Dr Janet Messer, Director of Research Systems, Standards and HRA Approval Programme


Janet Messer has a key lead responsibility for implementing a new integrated system for approval of health research in England. She also works collaboratively with a wide range of partner organisations to fulfil the HRA’s aims to make it easier to do good quality ethical research in the UK. Prior to working at the HRA she was Head of Research Management and Governance at the NIHR Clinical Research Network, where she was responsible for a major change programme to improve the NIHR Coordinated System for gaining NHS Permission. She has a PhD in biochemistry from University of Cambridge, followed by many years’ experience of clinical research in the pharmaceutical industry. Previous roles in NHS R&D include running the Integrated Research Application System (IRAS) and leading a number of national initiatives to improve NHS research management through the NHS R&D Forum.