New director for the national Innovation Observatory, NIHRIO

The national centre which helps accelerate access to new medicines, devices and diagnostics and services to patients has a new director, Professor Dawn Craig.

She will be leading the team at the National Institute for Health Research Innovation Observatory, NIHRIO, based at The Catalyst, Newcastle University. The NIHR Innovation Observatory plays a pivotal role in providing better care for patients by supporting the acceleration of access to new medicines, diagnostics, devices and services.

Professor Craig’s aim in her new role is to consolidate what NIHRIO has achieved to date while ensuring it continues to utilise the latest innovation in Artificial Intelligence and tools and methods to facilitate scanning and insights. The next steps will be to integrate methods and skills across the two teams in NIHRIO and the Evidence Synthesis Group, to facilitate methodological advancement in horizon scanning, intelligence insights and evidence synthesis.

Professor Craig said: “Having been involved from the very beginning when the NIHR Innovation Observatory was just an idea, I am excited about having the opportunity to lead the Observatory into the next stage of its strategic innovation and development.

“Bringing together both groups offers untold opportunities. I am looking forward to working with an exceptional team over the coming years, to continue delivering to our national stakeholders whilst informing and transforming the horizon scanning and intelligence insights landscape.”

NIHRIO is working closely with stakeholders in the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC), and other national bodies such as NHS England and NICE to help identify innovation needs of the NHS and the best healthcare solutions to meet these challenges. Digital tools are the cornerstone of NIHRIO’s work, and the summer will see the launch of ScanMedicine as a flexible, free access to all platform for enhanced future/horizon scanning.

However, since March, NIHRIO has also been focusing on COVID-19 work and has been providing horizon scanning intelligence to the COVID-19 National Oversight Group to support therapeutics and diagnostics decision making.

Professor David Burn, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University welcomed the announcement: “The important work that NIHRIO is doing has been brought into sharp focus during the Covid-19 pandemic in ensuring that patients get the best healthcare in the NHS.

“Professor Craig’s leadership will no doubt take this to the next level accelerating the advances that medical teams are working on to enable medicines and treatments to be rapidly adopted by the NHS – not just for Covid 19 but for a host of diseases.”

Joining Newcastle University six years ago to establish the Evidence Synthesis Group, Professor Craig had previously spent 12 years at York University working in the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination. She was an integral member of the team that secured research funding to deliver the NIHR Innovation Observatory (NIHRIO) national horizon scanning centre and has spent the last 3 years as Deputy Director.

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