Who's who at Genetic Alliance UK

Meet the team

The team at Genetic Alliance UK is made up of staff and trustees. Staff are mostly based at our head office in London but we have staff based in Scotland and Wales too.


*part time

Trustee Board

Genetic Alliance UK, a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity, is governed by its Board of Trustees. The Board’s role is to set the charity's strategic direction, monitor the delivery of the charity's objectives, uphold its values and governance and guide, advise and support the Director and the team to achieve its aim and mission.

The Board membership consists of Trustees who are elected members with full voting rights (and are directors of the company for the purposes of company law). Observers are non-voting members of the Board. The Board of Trustees, listed below, is led by the Chairman, Christopher Goard and meets quarterly:


Ruth Abuzaid (Vice Chair)

Ruth represents the Huntington’s Disease Association (HDA) where she is the Deputy Head of Care Services. In this role she line manages a team of 11 Care Advisers and works on a number of development projects. Ruth is passionate about supporting young adults at risk of genetic diseases, and was a co-founder of the 'European HD Working Group for Young Adults'. Ruth also co-founded the 'London Neurological Conditions Group'. Ruth's background is in Physiotherapy. Ruth hopes that by bringing knowledge from the HDA and the families they work with, that she can have a positive input into the strategic oversight of Genetic Alliance UK.

John Dart

Coming soon

Professor John Dodge

John was Nuffield Professor of Child Health in Queen’s University, Belfast and is now an Honorary Professor in Swansea University. He has been a member of numerous national and international committees, examined in medical schools worldwide, and acquired clinical and administrative experience on both sides of the Atlantic and in developing countries. He continues his research interests in Cystic Fibrosis and other genetic disorders, and is Chairman of Shwachman-Diamond Support (UK). He was a member of the WHO Advisory Panel on Human Genetics for 22 years, and is active in the European Association of Paediatric Societies’ Working Group on Rare Diseases. He hopes that his experience and enthusiasm will be useful to Genetic Alliance UK.

Christopher Friend

Christopher has served as Chair of Genetic Alliance UK and currently serves on the Finance and Governance Group. He brings wide experience to the Trustee role as Chair of the Medical Advisory Service and through other patient support groups, including CLASP, a charity countering the stigma of suicide and stress related illnesses.

As a member of the Chartered Management Institute he maintains professional management status with access to its research facilities and to those of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. During a career in the pharmaceutical industry he also held senior management roles in Medical Sciences Liaison, Marketing and Government Affairs. Concomitantly he was a Course Director and Tutor for the Research Council’s Graduate Schools Programme.

Christopher strongly supports the role of Genetic Alliance UK in bringing the patient voice into the health policy debate.”

Sally George

Sally is a representative of Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC), where her role includes staffing a national helpline, moderating online forum groups and facilitating support meetings for bereaved parents. She has worked in the voluntary sector for 14 years and has a great deal of experience and a particular interest in the provision of high quality information and support for people dealing with health-related difficulties and/or loss and bereavement. She is also interested in staffing issues and has formal and informal supervisory experience within small busy teams. She strongly supports the goals and ethos of the Genetic Alliance and is pleased to be able to contribute to the organisation’s important work for individuals and families affected by genetic conditions and the complex issues involved.

Christopher Goard (Chair)

Christopher’s commercial career spanned almost 30 years with diverse roles in marketing and international business management. Since 2006 he has developed various roles joining GIG in 2008 as a Trustee rapidly becoming Treasurer and more recently Chairman. In addition he has five years experience as a Non-Executive Director and Chairman with the NHS and is currently a NED with Oxford University Hospitals Trust. He is committed to the future of the Genetic Alliance UK and uses his experiences in strategy development, business development and governance to support the charity’s future growth and achievements.

Rebecca Griffiths

Rebecca is a representative of UKPIPS (UK Primary Immunodeficiency Patient Support, having been diagnosed with Common Variable Immune Deficiency in 2012.

With a degree in Management from the University of Warwick, Rebecca is now a management consultant in London, working at one of the world's largest consulting firms. In particular, Rebecca specialises in the way that people of different ages learn and disseminate information, are educated/trained and how people work collaboratively often across different time zones and language barriers.

With her background as a patient, Rebecca is passionate about Genetic Alliance UK’s work and hopes to bring her experience to bear in the complexities of understanding such a large patient population affected by rare and common conditions.

Dr Mike Knapton

Dr Mike Knapton is representative from the British Heart Foundation. He is the associate Medical Director for Prevention and Care at the BHF. Mike is a general practitioner by training having qualified from Cambridge University in 1982. He continues to practice as a salaried GP in Cambridge on one day per week. He has recently joined the Board of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as a non-executive director.

Rachel Mcnairney

Rae, who lives in Scotland, is a representative from PID UK. She retired in 2012 following a rewarding and challenging career in the NHS working with those affected by mental health issues. She has been actively involved with the Charity sector for over 25 years and continues to participate with a variety of organisations. She is committed to the care and wellbeing of all people with Genetic disorders. She hopes her experience gained working in the NHS and other charitable organisations can be put to good use working with Genetic Alliance UK.

John Mills

John Mills represents Vasculitis UK. He spent 40 years as a practising dentist, retiring in 2006, but contracted vasculitis in 2001 aged 58. He now campaigns for greater awareness of all 18 rare vasculitis diseases, better recognition and diagnosis, improved treatment and more research. John believes that patients who are better informed and educated about their illness are better able to manage it. He works closely with medical professionals, being a patient representative on numerous panels eg: UK Vasculitis Study Group, British Society of Rheumatologists, European League Against Rheumatism and NHS Rheumatoid Specialist Commissioning Reference Group.

Dr Mary Petrou

Coming soon

Dr Marita Pohlschmidt

Marita Pohlschmidt is the Director of Research at the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. She is in charge of an annual £1m research budget invested to increase understanding of muscle function and muscle disease and to ensure an efficient bench-to-bedside transition of promising technology. In her role, Marita is close to affected individuals and their families with a range of muscular dystrophies and related neuromuscular conditions and understands their “sense of urgency” to find treatments.

She believes that research is now entering an exciting phase and that it is vital that patient organisations work together with the scientific community to have an input in the prioritisation and development of therapeutic approaches. She brings her experience in research and patient involvement to the board.

Richard West (Honorary Treasurer)

Richard is a patient with a rare genetic illness called Behcet’s Syndrome. He is a representative of the Behçet’s Society and has in the past been Secretary of the Behcet’s Society for a long period. He has also been a Trustee of Genetic Alliance UK before taking the role of Honorary Treasurer. He feels that he represents the interests of smaller charities that may be members of Genetic Alliance UK.

He is also currently a volunteer and a nominated representative with Eurordis, a European patient organisation for Rare Diseases, to represent the patient’s voice of that organisation at the Patient and Consumer Working Party at the European Medicines Agency and is a self employed Accident Investigator


Claire Mather

Claire brings over 15 years’ experience of working both for the NHS as a qualified nurse and for the third sector as Head of Nursing, and currently as a director of DEBRA. A significant focus of Claire’s roles has been to work collaboratively with members, patients, clinical network, NHS services, commissioners, and other key stakeholders to provide creative solutions to the challenges faced by organisations in their delivery of best practice. In a time of austerity Claire has been instrumental in raising awareness of EB nursing as a priority within the NHS and has ensured significantly increased NHS funding of core EB clinical activities. Claire has also lead a number of commercial projects partnering with organisations in the private and public sector to both improve the range of products/services on offer and raise income.


Corinna Alberg

Corinna Alberg has been a Project Manager at the PHG Foundation for the past 7 years. Previously she worked at Manchester University as a Research Associate on mental health risk assessment, at the North West Regional Health Authority managing strategic developments in primary health care and in health promotion in Manchester.

While at the PHG Foundation, she managed a review of services for inherited cardiovascular disease, contributed to a review of genetic ophthalmology services and of the national screening programme for Tay Sachs Disease. Currently she is part of the PHG Foundation’s team developing a Toolkit for use primarily in low and middle income countries to enable the development of services for those with congenital disorders. She is also working on a project drawing up recommendations to address the ethical, legal and social issues arising as whole genome sequencing and other next generation sequencing technologies are introduced into health services.

Dr Hilary Burton

Hilary Burton is a public health physician and Director of the PHG Foundation, a public health policy and research charity based in Cambridge, UK. Its main aim to promote the responsible translation of genomic technologies is closely aligned with the work of the Genetic Alliance and, consequently the two organisations have always maintained very close relationships. Hilary is involved actively in UK genomics policy work and chaired the subgroup on coordination of research for the influential 2011 report of the Genetic Alliance on rare diseases, which paved the way for the recent UK Strategy for Rare Diseases.

Caroline Harrison

Coming soon

Dr Fiona Hemsley

Coming soon

John Kempton

John has held number of senior strategic HR roles in the public and not-for-profit sectors. His experience includes the delivery of a range of major change and strategic alignment programmes. He is currently the Director of Human Resources for the Institute of Cancer Research which is a College of the University of London. He holds both a postgraduate qualifications from University of East London, in Human Resource Management and a Henley Business School Professional Certificate in Coaching. John has been a trustee on the board of a number of charities since 2002 where he has provided strategic & organisational development along side HR expertise.

Fiona Macrae

Fiona works at InsuranceWith and offers her skills and experience to the board as an Observer. Fiona is a professional insurance broker with over 20 years experience. She is also a patient with a pre-existing medical condition and has experienced the difficulties which many patients with genetic conditions face when trying to access insurance. She brings her experience from both backgrounds to the board to inform our policy and project work.

Sowmiya Moorthie

Sowmiya works for the PHG Foundation and offers her skills and experience to Genetic Alliance UK as an Observer. She trained as a scientist and has a background in policy development for science and public health; she is also currently training for a masters degree in epidemiology. She provides research, analysis and appraisal skills to a wide range of Foundation projects, including contributions to work on whole genome sequencing, birth defects, newborn screening and prenatal diagnosis. Her role includes giving input in science and epidemiology.

Robin Nott

Robin Nott, Observer, is a retired solicitor and partner in a City of London firm where he practised in the commercial and intellectual property field.

Since retiring he has had a number of non-executive directorships and he is Secretary and a director of Licensing Executives Society (Britain & Ireland), the U.K. chapter of Licensing Executives Society International, the world's leading association of technology transfer and licensing. He also continues to sit on the Intellectual Property Advisory Committee of the BioIndustry Association and the Biotechnology Committee of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys.

Phyllis Wong

Phyllis recently joined the Genetic Alliance UK board as an Observer in 2013. She is a qualified accountant and trained with an accountancy firm which specialises in the not for profit sector. She is also a rare disease patient. It is from this dual perspective that she is able to contribute her experiences; from her accounting background, to offer advice on governance, and as a patient, to ensure the patient voice is represented at every level of Genetic Alliance UK. She is passionate about her involvement in the work and direction of Genetic Alliance UK.

Nicole Yost

Nicole joined Genetic Alliance UK as an Observer in 2012. She is a healthcare communications professional with 15 years' experience spanning medical journalism, editorial, branding, public relations and marketing communications roles. She is currently a Senior Director within the PR team of Ogilvy Healthworld. Nicole has a strong understanding of the media and was involved with the rebrand of Genetic Alliance UK. Nicole has a degree in Medical Sciences and an MBA with distinction from Warwick Business School. Having developed an understanding of Genetic Alliance UK’s aims and objectives through the rebrand, Nicole is keen to bring her experience to the board.


  • Professor Sir John Burn
  • Professor Michael Connor
  • Professor Timothy Cox
  • Professor Dame Kay Davies
  • Dr Ros A Eeles
  • Professor Alan Emery
  • Professor Peter Farndon
  • Professor Rodney Harris
  • Professor Nick Hastie
  • Professor Shirley Hodgson
  • Professor Peter Lachmann
  • Professor Norman Nevin
  • Professor Mike Patton
  • Professor Marcus Pembrey
  • Professor Martin Richards