Meet the Team
Our people and their scientific expertise and passion are at the core of what we do.
The Almac Diagnostic Services leadership team has worked on many key projects together for over a decade, in partnership with global pharma, biotech clients and leading academics.
Professor Paul Harkin
President and Managing Director
Paul is also a Professor in Molecular Oncology within the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University Belfast where his research has focused on the role played by BRCA1 mutation in the development of hereditary breast cancer. Prior to this appointment he had been a Research Fellow in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital where he developed his interest in the emerging field of precision medicine.
Global VP of Commercial Operations
Michael has a BSC in Commerce and an MSC in Corporate Leadership and was educated in the University of Birmingham, Napier University, Scotland and the Ivey Business School, Canada.
He has over 25 years in senior business development and management roles in the biotech and medical device sector. He has worked in both start up and multinational companies. His previous experience including Managing Director for BSN Medical UK a Smith and Nephew and Beiersdorf JV and Executive Director for Amtec Medical Ltd.
Professor Richard Kennedy
Global VP of Biomarker Development
As a post-graduate he trained as a medical oncologist and received a PhD in Molecular Biology in 2004.
From 2004-2007 he worked as an instructor in oncology at Harvard Medical School, USA, where he identified novel biomarkers and drug targets for cancer treatment.
In August 2007 he joined Almac Diagnostic Services as the director of a CLIA compliant diagnostics laboratory and has been involved in the biomarker design for several international clinical trials. In 2012 he established a research group in Queen’s University Belfast focussed on various aspects of stratified medicine.
Richard Kennedy currently sits on the CR-UK new agents committee, MRC Biomarkers steering group, the National Cancer Clinical Trials Steering Group, the Enterprise Ireland Technology assessment panel and the all-Ireland Breast Cancer Predict Consortium. Previously he was a member of the CR-UK biomarker steering group and the Breast Cancer Campaign scientific advisory board.
Dr Stewart McWilliams
Global VP of Quality & Regulatory Affairs
The team work with the pharmaceutical industry on the Quality and Regulatory aspects of CDx Development and Commercialisation.
This team are also responsible for Almac Diagnostic Services’ Laboratory Quality Management systems ensuring compliance with ISO13485, CLIA (Federal and New York State CLEP), ISO17025, ISO15189 and the College of American Pathologists accreditation requirements.
Stewart studied in Queens University Belfast where he attained his degree and PhD in Molecular Oncology before postgraduate work at The Welcome Trust Centre in Dundee. Stewart has managed the implementation of various Quality Management Systems including ISO13485, ISO17025, GCP, CAP accreditation, New York State CLEP and CLIA. He is also Almac Diagnostic Services Designated Individual for the purposes of the UKs Human Tissue Act.
Dr Laura Knight
VP of Bioinformatics, Biostatistics & Informatics
Prior to joining Almac in 2009, Laura studied at Queen’s University Belfast and received a 1st class Honors degree in Mathematics and Theoretical Physics before completing her Ph.D. in Mathematics and Statistics with applied Bioinformatics, also from Queen’s University Belfast, where she currently holds an Honorary Lectureship position.
Dr Leeona Galligan
VP of UK Operations
Prior to joining Almac in 2009, Dr. Galligan obtained a PhD in molecular haematology from Trinity College Dublin. She subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship on the molecular mechanisms of drug resistance in colorectal cancer at Queen’s University Belfast and has completed a 4 year training programme in specialist haemato-oncology laboratory services. She maintains registration with the UK Health and Care Professions Council as a Clinical Scientist and has been awarded Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath) through examination in haemato-oncology and laboratory management.
Dr Katarina Wikstrom
Head of US Operations
Katarina has overall responsibility for all US laboratory technologies and services supporting biomarker discovery, assay development and validation, and product delivery.
Katarina obtained a PhD in experimental pathology from Lund University, and subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship on the molecular mechanisms of prostanoid signaling in vascular haemostasis and oncology at University College Dublin. Since joining Almac in 2009 Katarina has built up a breadth of experience in the biomarker field with particular focus on assay development and validation.
Dr Steven Walker
Head of Internal Product Management
Specifically this includes the development of internal discovery of biomarker assays towards commercialisation as a diagnostic test delivered directly from Almac CLIA and CAP accredited laboratories, or as a companion diagnostic test for in partnership with Pharma / Biopharma.
Steven studied at the University of Dundee, leading to a PhD before postgraduate work at the Beatson Cancer Research UK Institute in Glasgow. He joined Almac Diagnostic Services in 2005, initially as a Senior Scientist, then as Team Leader and then Research Manager before taking the role in Product Development. As part of his time with the research team, he was involved in the discovery and development of several of the internally discovered biomarker assays.
Dr Nuala McCabe
Biomarker Research Manager
Following this, she then worked as a post-doctoral researcher Prof. Alan Ashworth in the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre (Institute of Cancer Research, London).
During this time she was the involved in the identification of PARP1 inhibitors for the treatment of BRCA-associated breast and ovarian cancers, which are now approved by the EMA.
Dr McCabe joined Almac Diagnostic Services as Team Leader of Internal Research and is now Biomarker Research Manager. Within this role she has gained 8 years industrial experience in drug target identification and biomarker discovery. Dr McCabe has an honorary position at Queen’s University Belfast and runs a team of both industrial and academic staff with a focus on the discovery and validation of biomarkers for clinical trials. Dr McCabe’s work has led to a number of significant invited talks, patents and publications including Nature, Cancer Research, Cancer Cell and Oncogene.
Dr Seóna McErlean
Head of Commercial Product Management
Seóna studied BioMedical Science at the University of Ulster, Coleraine and subsequently worked as a QC Analyst in Ivex Pharmaceuticals before undertaking a PhD. Her PhD was in the area of molecular biology of Breast Cancer at the University of Ulster, Coleraine. She started with Almac Clinical Services in Project Management in 2008 before joining Almac Diagnostic Services in 2010.