Dr Karen Smith

Director of Bioprocess Leadership
MSc Admissions Tutor  (part-time)
Karen Smith
  • Phone: + 44 (0)20 7679 4411
  • Fax: + 44 (0)20 7916 3943
  • karen.smith@ucl.ac.uk


Dr Smith holds two Masters degrees and a PhD from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, as well as degrees from the University of Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde.

Her research focused on the circadian timing system. Circadian rhythms are those daily cycles of physiology and behaviour that persist when organisms are isolated from the external world. They are expressed in all living organisms and their biological role is to anticipate and thereby allow organisms to adapt to the solar day and night. In humans the sleep-wake cycle is the most obvious circadian rhythm. Disruption of our circadian rhythms through shift work, old age and neurological disease is a significant and growing cause of chronic illness.  By understanding the genetic control of circadian timing, it will be possible to better understand conditions such as cancer, sleep disorders and jet-lag. Such understanding holds hope for new treatments e.g. cancer chronotherapy promises treatments specifically timed to provide optimum benefits as there may be specific points in the cell cycle that make the tumour cells more susceptible to drugs. 

Career Appointments, Honours and Awards

Business Director, Cambridge Computational Biology Institute, University of Cambridge
Acting Head, Partnership Group (Corporate Liaison Office), University of Cambridge
Manager, Cambridge-MIT ‘Next-generation Drug Discovery’ Knowledge Integration Community
Senior Consultant, Acquisitions & Alliances, IMS Health Inc.
Consultant, R&D Portfolio Management, Cambridge Pharma Consultancy Ltd.
Executive, Life Sciences, Ernst & Young LLP
Manager, National Westminster Bank PLC
Carnegie Scholar (The Carnegie Scholarship is the premier award in Scotland for first-class honours Graduates of a Scottish University intending to pursue a PhD).
Registered Technology Transfer Practitioner (RTTP), Alliance of Technology Transfer Professionals



Dr Smith is a member of the Department’s Senior Management Team and her appointment is commercially oriented.

Her primary responsibilities involve enhancing bioprocess leadership and knowledge transfer activities across the Department and expanding sponsor relationships through vehicles such as the Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre (IMRC) in Bioprocessing, The Bioconversion-Chemistry-Engineering Interface (BiCE) Programme and The Regenerative Medicine Bioprocessing (RegenMed) Initiative.

She is:

Karen oversees the Department's post-experience MBI® Training Programme which to date has trained over 1,200 individuals from 250 companies. Karen also developed and oversees (with Dr. Eli Keshavarz-Moore) a ground-breaking new programme called VISION which is specifically tailored for Senior Executives in the biopharma and related sectors.

Additionally, Karen co-ordinates the Department’s external marketing and communications activities.

Research Interests

Knowledge Transfer
University Technology Transfer
Public Understanding of Science

Dr Smith is a regular contributor to the PRAXIS technology transfer training programme aimed at technology transfer professionals working in universities, research institutions and industry.


Dr Smith currently writes for the Naked Scientists, a group of physicians and researchers who use radio, live lectures, and the Internet to strip science down to its bare essentials, and promote it to the general public. The award winning BBC weekly radio programme, The Naked Scientists, reaches an audience of 6 million listeners across the east of England, and also has an international following on the web.

She has been a contributing author to several of the highly prestigious Ernst & Young Global Biotechnology Reports and European Life Sciences Reports; the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology US Financial Accounts Reports; IMS Pricing & Reimbursement Reviews and has published several academic papers in high impact journals such as the Journal of Neuroscience. She was a contributing author to the book ‘Hypothalamic Integration of Circadian Rhythms’ and writes occasional articles for magazines such as Innovations in Pharmaceutical Technology.

Page last modified on 06 nov 13 13:32