Championing our Cause.

Michael Whitaker, Professor of Physiology and Dean of Development in the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle, recently accepted the inaugural post of Sector Champion for the North East England pharma industry.

‘I’m delighted to be offered this role.’ said Michael. ‘It provides me with the ideal opportunity to expand upon what I’ve been tasked to do for Newcastle University, that being to develop and strengthen links between pharma manufacturing companies in the region and the wider commercial sector. Through these interactions and communications we hope to ensure that the sector remains globally competitive.’

Michael anticipates a number of factors need to be met to achieve this. One is global visibility.

I want to get to a stage that when international companies think North East England, they immediately think first class pharma manufacturing.”

The second factor is the need for the workforce to be equipped with the necessary skills to meet today’s – and tomorrow’s – challenges. Fortunately, while companies have come and gone, merged, sold and morphed into the current landscape, the highly-skilled workforce has remained relatively constant.

And finally, mutual cross-marketing of facilities and services in the region is needed. However, as many of the resident companies are non-competitive locally, Michael is already in a strong position to facilitate this.

Top it all with a well-developed competence in all areas of supply chain management supported by extensive industry innovation (there is a substantial cluster of smaller affiliate companies offering expertise in related generic and niched areas), the North East is coming out fighting.

If it’s all so rosy, then what are the challenges?
‘Pharmaceutical manufacturing has enjoyed historical success in the region since the 1960s but the recession, coupled with big changes globally in pharma, have been major challenges to growth. In today’s climate we need to grow new business and advance specialist pharma manufacturing in our area to secure our future,’ warns Michael.

If you’d like to contact Michael, please email him on or call him on 0191 222 3889.


Michael Whitaker biography

Michael was educated in Cambridge and moved to North East England in 1994 via a chair at University College London. He has published widely in the areas of reproductive biology and cell cycle control and has extensive international connections in these areas, above all in the US and Japan.

He was instrumental in developing the research strategy of the Medical Faculty at Newcastle University, whose research now ranks fifth in the UK. Since 2000, Michael has been closely involved in forming and delivering the North East regional Strategy for Success in the Healthcare and Life Science areas, particularly in the areas of ageing, stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. He has been active nationally at the Wellcome Trust and recently retired as secretary of the British Society for Cell Biology. He is a Fellow of the Society of Biology and the Academy of Medical Sciences. In addition he is a board member of Centre for Excellence in Life Sciences and a trustee of the Marine Biological Association. He also holds directorships in two companies in the energy sector.

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