The award recognises our commitment to address gender equalities. It represents efforts to tackle unequal representation of women in science.
The Institute of Cellular Medicine has successfully renewed their Silver Athena SWAN Accreditation to November 2019. Prof Simi Ali, who led the Institute’s efforts said of the news: "This is brilliant news and recognises our ongoing commitment to address gender equalities, to tackle unequal representation of women in science and our aim of improving career progression for female academics. As an institute, we are committed to providing a good working environment and developing all staff to their full potential. It is great to have all our efforts recognised."
The Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) in higher education and research. In May 2015 the charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students.
It gives us the aim of improving career progression for female academics.
We are committed to providing a good working environment and developing all staff to their full potential.
We have worked to remove barriers to career progression through:
- having supportive policies and working practices
- targeted help, particularly to early career researchers
- training, mentoring and coaching throughout all stages of academic careers
In recognition of this, we have retained Athena SWAN Silver status.
This national award recognises our achievements in working towards career progression equality in:
This level of award acknowledges significant and sustained progression in promoting gender equality.
Institute Athena SWAN submission documents
Athena Swan Silver Application 2016 (PDF: 5,084KB)
Newcastle University gained the Athena SWAN Silver Award in April 2016.
Professor Simi Ali, Professor of Immunobiology, is the Institute's Athena SWAN champion. She was selected as one of the Inspirational Women of the North East.
Professor Simi Ali
Simi featured alongside famous names including:
- Catherine Cookson
- Mo Mowlam
- Dame Eleanor Allan
- Olympic gold medallist Kat Copeland
- Newcastle undergraduate and polar explorer Bryony Balen
An exhibition at Hatton Gallery celebrated iconic women connected with the North East.
It increased awareness of women's contributions to the region and their diverse successes.
It was also to contribute to:
- fostering regional pride
- social cohesion
- enhanced local identity
in connection with women's achievements past, present and future.
Dr Fiona Oakley
Dr Fiona Oakley
A delighted Dr Fiona Oakley, Reader in Fibrosis Biology, was invited to give a presentation at a prestigious event.
She presented 'My Career in Science' at a Women in Hepatology networking session.
She provided advice for budding researchers wishing to pursue an academic career in science.
She also discussed her career path from the perspective of a female academic.
Her talk was at the British Association for the Study of the Liver (BASL) 2013 annual meeting.
Find out more about how our staff have been supported by our employment practices.
Professor Simi AliProfessor Simi Ali
Professor Simi Ali is a Professor of Molecular Immunology. Simi gained a Commonwealth Post-doctoral Fellowship in Molecular Biology at Manchester University in 1990.
She moved to Newcastle University in 1992 as a contract researcher. Short-term contracts funded her work.
In 18 years she has progressed from Research Associate to Professor. She was promoted to Chair in 2011.
Simi has had two periods of maternity leave, one at Newcastle. She is familiar with the demands of a busy working life, short term contracts and a young family.
Simi has held senior management responsibilities within the University and Institute. She also serves on an external scientific committee.
Simi was the Institute Postgraduate Co-ordinator from 2008 to 2011. Her aim was to inspire our students to develop their careers in science.
Simi has benefited from the support of our Institute Director and colleagues. The Institute Director has reviewed her workload and helped balance her portfolio.
This has ensured she gets management experience while she develops her research and teaching.
Dr Neil KeeganDr Neil Keegan
Dr Neil Keegan is a lecturer. He is an early career researcher who joined Newcastle University in 2001 as a PhD student.
He gained a research associate role within the Institute in 2005. He became a senior research associate in 2008 and gained a lectureship in 2011.
Neil has contributed to the Institute’s Athena SWAN steering group. He provided perspective of an early career researcher who has experienced selection and promotion.
Neil said: “As senior research associate, my line manager listened to my ideas. I was encouraged to participate in grant applications as a researcher co-investigator.
"This led to grants of more than £2m and recognition of my contribution by the Institute Director. I was also promoted to lecturer.
"I was then supported by the grant review system and Institute mentors to gain a £777,939 grant. This was so I could investigate a completely new form of acoustic biosensor.
"This support and mentorship, available to all members of the Institute, has been invaluable.”
Dr Sophie HambletonDr Sophie Hambleton
Dr Sophie Hambleton is a clinical senior lecturer. She is also an honorary consultant in paediatric immunology and infectious diseases.
She works at Newcastle University and the Great North Children's Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne.
Her clinical training in her paediatric specialty took place in Birmingham, Oxford and Newcastle. She combined this with basic research in molecular immunology (Oxford) and herpesvirology (Columbia).
She gained her Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training in 2008. Since then, she has worked on the cellular and molecular basis of novel primary immunodeficiencies.
Her focus has been on susceptibility to intracellular pathogens. A former Medical Research Council clinician scientist fellow, her work is funded by the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust.
Sophie said: “The Institute provides a supportive environment for developing clinical academics regardless of gender.
"As an aspiring clinician scientist, I received invaluable help. This included everything from preparing fellowship applications and in practice interviews.
"I was subsequently mentored through a successful fellowship. Advice and encouragement were always available to me without encroaching on my autonomy.
"Towards the end of my fellowship, the Institute suggested I apply for a prestigious charitable funding award. They supported me through a multi-step selection procedure.
"This was successful and will enable me to continue building my research over the next five years. I have every confidence the Institute will continue to foster the flourishing research community I am proud to be part.”
Dr Alison Tyson-CapperDr Alison Tyson-Capper
Dr Alison Tyson-Capper is a Senior Non-Clinical Lecturer in Molecular and Reproductive Biology. She studied for her PhD as a mature student and single parent.
Beside her research and teaching commitments, Alison is the Institute Postgraduate Co-ordinator. She is Chair of its postgraduate committee and a member of the Institute executive and management groups.
She said: “As a new lecturer, I set up my own research group. We secured income of more than £500,000 and three PhD studentships in the first three years.
"I started teaching undergraduate students, with a passion, as a module leader. I have taken on a leadership role within the Institute related to postgraduate students. That has been challenging and rewarding.
"I feel the Institute Director and Deputy Director recognised my contribution and achievements. It was because of their support and guidance that I applied for promotion to Senior Lecturer."
Dr Fiona OakleyDr Fiona Oakley
Dr Fiona Oakley became a Reader in 2011. She said: “I trained at the University of Southampton and gained a PhD in Biological Sciences in 2000.
"I then moved to the Medical School in Southampton. I joined the Liver Research Group under Profs Michael Arthur, John Iredale and Derek Mann.
"After five years of post doctoral research, I gained a faculty career track award. In 2006, I was the recipient of the Dame Sheila Sherlock research medal.
"In the same year, I moved to Newcastle University to a lectureship. While at Newcastle the Institute has facilitated my career development at many levels.
"The research environment, academic collaborations with clinical and basic scientists and mentorship helped. It led to me securing a Medical Research Council New Investigator Research Grant.
"It helped me publish in discovery journals (nature medicine). It also helped me establish myself as an independent investigator in liver fibrosis.
"My application for promotion from lecturer to reader was fully supported by the Institute. The Institute Director and Scientific Director both provided critical feedback on my application.”
Self Assessment Team
We have an Athena Swan Self Assessment Team that addresses issues regarding equality within the Institute.
It is made up of:
- Claire Harris
- Kevin Marchbank
- Venitia Bigley
- Janet Herdman
- Rebecca Payne
- Minna Honkanen-Scott
- Matt McCallum