NIHR Imperial BRC Team

Professor Mark Thursz

Director, NIHR Imperial BRC
R&D Director, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
Interim Head, Department of Surgery and Cancer
Professor of Hepatology

Mark Thursz is professor of hepatology in the Division of Digestive Diseases and Thursz is a clinical hepatologist at St Mary’s Hospital. In addition to his leadership role as the Director of the NIHR Imperial BRC, he is also the R&D Director for ICHT and Head of the Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction at Imperial College London.

Prof Thursz was educated at King’s College London and trained in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at St Mary’s being appointed as senior Lecturer and honorary consultant in 1997. His early research work with Howard Thomas and Adrian Hill focussed on genetic susceptibility in viral hepatitis, which expanded to encompass the natural history of viral hepatitis and factors which determine disease progression. In 2011, Prof Thursz launched the Prevention of Liver Fibrosis and Cancer in Africa (PROLIFCA) programme to address barriers to control and elimination of viral hepatitis in resource limited countries. In addition to viral hepatitis, he runs a translational research programme in alcohol-related liver disease (including STOPAH trial), and was recently granted an MRC Stratified Medicine award exploring novel biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis and risk of infection in this condition.

Dr Paul Craven

Head of Research Operations
NIHR Imperial BRC Manager

Paul joined Imperial College London in April 2012 as Clinical Research Operations Manager in the Faculty of Medicine. Prior to this appointment he worked as Head of the Joint Research Office at St George’s, University of London, and as Deputy Scientific Secretary at the Institute of Cancer Research in South Kensington. Paul read Physics at the University of Leeds, and completed his PhD in Aerospace Science in 1995 at Cranfield University.

As the NIHR Imperial BRC Manager, Paul coordinates all research and financial management and reporting activities for the BRC Themes, and also for funding received via the London (North West) Comprehensive Local Research Network (CLRN). In 2017, Paul was appointed as the Head of Research Operations at Imperial College London and the Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust.

Dr Irina Babina

Senior Research Programmes Manager

Gut Health
Informatics and Biobanking
Molecular Phenomics
Industry Collaborations

Irina is responsible for operations and growth of clinical and biomedical research programmes within and across NIHR Imperial BRC Themes above.  She is the BRC liaison for industry partnerships and commercialisation across all BRC Themes. Additionally, she helps develop horizontal programmes within the BRC relating to clinical training and alignment with other NIHR infrastructures, to identify new opportunities and accelerate translation of research findings into clinic.

Irina completed her PhD investigating metastasis of aggressive breast cancers in 2013 at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and continued her research as a postdoc at the Institute of Cancer Research in London until 2017. During her academic years, she focused on developing new treatment strategies for breast and gastric cancers, and understanding molecular mechanisms of oncogene addiction and drug resistance. She facilitated setup of two health software start-ups (digital pathology, clinical trials recruitment) and helped secure several commercial research grants. In 2021 she obtained an MBA from Imperial College Business School, focusing on innovation, entrepreneurship and early-stage investment. She is also a strategic advisor to healthtech start-ups and and remains a forthcoming mentor to junior researchers and innovators.

Jessica Brand

Research Programmes Manager

Surgery & Surgical Technology
ITMAT awards

Jess oversees the Immunology and Surgery & Surgical Technology Themes, and manages our ITMAT research projects portfolio. She also supports the NWL COVID-19 Data Prioritisation Group, and works closely with various partners to deliver the NIHR Imperial BRC Training Strategy.

Having completed a BSc in Chemistry, Jessica worked in academic journal publishing at the Royal Society of Chemistry, before moving onto project managing small researcher support grant schemes at the same organisation. Other roles in grant management followed, and she subsequently joined Cancer Research UK (CRUK) as a Research Funding Manager, in charge of the prevention elements of the portfolio. In this role and an associated Programme Manager secondment, Jessica project managed a conference series in cancer prevention and was involved in a co-funding call in integrated diagnostics with Innovate UK.

Iqfa Hudda

Research Programmes Manager

Metabolic Medicine and Endocrinology
Patient Experience Research Centre
Research Capability Funding awards

Iqfa is responsible for operations and delivery of Metabolic Medicine & Endocrinology theme and PPIE & PERC programme within NIHR Imperial BRC. In addition, Iqfa manages the Research Capability Funding (RCF) research portfolio, which is awarded by NIHR to help maintain research capacity and capability.

Iqfa has over 8 years of experience managing research, grants and funding within charity, trust, government and education sectors (within UK, Australia and New Zealand). In her previous role at The University of Sydney, she led large grant submissions schemes and strategic infrastructure submissions to government bodies. Prior to that, she worked at Imperial College London managing grants as part of the Joint Research Office (JRO).