ARMI is pleased to welcome Linda Somerville as the newest member to the Industry Advisory Committee!
Linda is an experienced cellular biologist with a long-standing passion for science and technology, having worked in both academia and industry across many different countries. But what sets Linda apart is her humanist and holistic perspective, which brings a fresh mindset to the committee. “People are challenging,” Linda commented, “Once you understand the individuals in an organisation and how they think, then it makes life so much easier. To do my job, you need to have patience, understanding and empathy with everyone; from the R&D scientist who has no interest in financial claims to the CEO concerned about the pipeline; and everyone in between.”
“To do my job, you need to have patience, understanding and empathy with everyone; from the R&D scientist who has no interest in financial claims to the CEO concerned about the pipeline; and everyone in between.”
Born in Northern Ireland and being the youngest of four in her family, Linda explained she discovered her love of science early. She explains, “My sister was an industrial chemist and she fuelled my interest in science by buying me a chemistry set and science books. I don’t think my mother was impressed when a mixture I produced in one chemical reaction splattered all over my bedroom walls. I think it was then that I decided to read the instruction manual!”
From there, her interest in answering biology’s biggest questions only grew. She first started her career as a research technician at Queen’s University Belfast whilst doing a part-time Master of Science, and then a part-time PhD. Linda says it was during her PhD that she began to learn that teamwork and collaboration is vital.
“I was trying to do everything myself and it wasn’t working,” Linda began. “Once I started asking for help and visiting other departments and talking to other scientists, I soon realised that research was not about carrying out a piece of work alone; it’s about asking for advice, learning from others who have done the same thing and experienced the same issues; access to equipment and techniques that can actually help.”
During her postgraduate studies, Linda collaborated with a small biotech company at London’s Royal Free Hospital, developing protein and peptide pharmaceuticals. This opportunity provided her with the springboard into the industry, working within research and development departments, supervising quality control and project managing, developing marketing plans and ensuring regulatory compliance. Over the past 30 years working in biotech with companies both big and small, such as Novartis, SAFC Biosciences and Wyeth Biopharma, Linda’s broad spectrum of experience, accumulated knowledge and refined skillset has made her a unique figure in industry.
Now, Linda runs her own consulting business providing insight to companies in the UK innovative ecosystem. “It’s not easy starting a company with an idea and funding it all from personal funds,” Linda sympathised, “Companies do require an additional helping hand through grant funding to get them to the next stage. It’s a privilege working with some of these companies (through the UK Innovation Agency which is also called Innovate UK), seeing their struggles turn into reality. It makes me proud to be part of that journey.”
“Companies do require an additional helping hand through grant funding to get them to the next stage. It’s a privilege working with some of these companies (through the UK Innovation Agency which is also called Innovate UK), seeing their struggles turn into reality. It makes me proud to be part of that journey.”
Combining her expertise in biomedical research and commercialisation, and her passion for improving the lives of patients, Linda is excited to bring her skills and knowledge to ARMI’s Industry Advisory Committee. “It is also something that I am still passionate about; putting the patient first and ensuring that scientific commitment comes back to this one fundamental fact; patients,” Linda explained.
To learn about the members of ARMI’s Industry Advisory Committee, click here.
You can find Linda Somerville on LinkedIn here.