Executive Team

Dr Seamus O’Neill, Chief Executive Officer

Seamus is the Chief Executive of the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria. He was previously Senior Manager of the NIHR Clinical Research Network for Northumberland, Tyne and Wear. Formerly a researcher and NHS laboratory scientist in Genetics, he has spent the last 15 years in a variety of managerial roles at the interface between academia and the NHS.

In all of the roles he has undertaken Séamus has focussed on the organisational development aspects of change management and the success factors essential for highly performing teams.

Professor Julia Newton, Medical Director

Julia graduated from Newcastle University Medical School in 1990.  Since then she has worked in a range of roles in the North East of England. She became a Consultant Physician with an interest in Geriatric Medicine in 2000 and Professor of Ageing and Medicine at Newcastle University in 2008. She was Dean of Clinical Medicine in the Faculty of Medical Sciences until 2015 and more recently Director of Newcastle Academic Health Partners.    She has a PhD in physiological sciences from Newcastle University and her research focusses upon understanding the causes of fatigue in chronic diseases.

Professor Oliver James, Medical Director

Oliver James has worked in and around the NHS in the NE for over 40 years. He was a consultant Physician, Professor of Medicine and Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Newcastle University Medical School. He has also been Senior Vice President of the Royal College of Physicians, and a member of the North East Strategic Health Authority and has been Chair of the HEE Local Education and Training Board.

Dr Nicola Wesley, Chief Operations Officer

Since gaining a PhD in Chemistry from Durham University Nicola has worked in a variety of roles supporting business and industry in the North East. She worked as a Programme Manager and then Head of NHS Innovations North East before taking up the position as Innovation Director at the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria in 2013.

Kirstie Taylor, Head of Communications

Kirstie has worked in a variety of marketing and communications roles for over 20 years, with a diverse client base including the NIHR Clinical Research Network, NHS Innovations North and the Tyne and Wear Development Company. She is currently providing strategic leadership at the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria to ensure effective communications with clients and stakeholder bodies to help achieve the objectives of the Network.

Beth McArdle, Health Improvement Programme Manager

Since joining the AHSN in 2013 Beth has led on the management of a range of projects and programmes in the Health Improvement workstream. She has worked in the Life Sciences all of her career, working in an Immunology research department followed by 13 years as a marketing and project manager for a software company developing proteomics and metabolomics data analysis solutions. Beth currently oversees the Health Improvement programmes, working closely with the Programme Leads and Medical Director to help ensure the successful delivery and roll out of these initiatives.

Stephanie Walton, Director of Finance

Stephanie has been part of the Finance team at the AHSN NENC since early 2014. Stephanie began her career as an NHS Regional Finance Trainee in 1992 in the South Thames Region before working as a Management Accountant for East Surrey Health Authority.

Stephanie left the NHS in 1998 to gain wider industry experience and worked for UBS, GE and Dyson, she returned to the NHS in 2007 to take up a role first as a Project Accountant then as Directorate Accountant with The Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.