DAME KATE BINGHAM DBE, FORMER CHAIR OF THE VACCINE TASK FORCE
DAME KATE BINGHAM DBE, FORMER CHAIR OF THE VACCINE TASK FORCE,
REFLECTS ON HER PREVIOUS ROLE AND EXPLAINS WHY SHE SUPPORTS NMITE
Dame Kate Bingham DBE was interviewed recently for NMITE where she talked about her experience chairing the Vaccine Task Force (VTF); the similarities she sees between that and the way NMITE will be working; the need for more women in engineering and the impact she thinks NMITE will achieve in the future. The full filmed interview can be seen here
Describing leading the VTF as “manic but great fun” and a “heroic and astonishing collaboration between industry, academia, governments, regulators, scientists and manufacturing”, Kate explains how virtual meetings helped enormously in terms of running the programme. Her team, many of whom she has still yet to meet, set a record in terms of time taken from the date the original virus or pathogenic agent was identified to the point at which a vaccine was approved. The previous record was for measles, identified in 1953 with a vaccine being approved in 1963.
In a frank and honest interview, Kate who is a great supporter of NMITE, talks about the shortage of women in technology and engineering and her own role as a woman leading a team of talented women and men. Kate explains that she, like many women, questions her own confidence “I still don’t have the same sort of brash confidence of a man. If I’m asked to do something, I will look at all the reasons why I can’t do it rather than the reasons I can. Obviously, I don’t say that to my daughters and the people with whom I work. I push them and say, ‘Of course, you can do this’, and you just get on with it.”
Kate also pays tribute to the role of engineers in the vaccine process: “Engineers, are always behind the scenes. You don’t see them, but you couldn’t make the drugs if you didn’t have engineers. We need to manufacture the drugs. We’ve got to bottle them, put them in vials. We’ve got to do all the experimental work to actually validate them. All of that needs engineers and yet engineers are not shouting from the rooftops saying, “Look at what we’re doing.”
The key parallel that Kate describes between running the VTF and NMITE’s way of working is partnership, “NMITE will be working with local and national businesses to solve real-world problems and to do so quickly. We have a massive climate challenge facing us globally. And the sooner we can come up with game-changing new ideas and products, the sooner we’re going to be able to start limiting the damage that we’re doing to the earth.”
Commenting on how she believes NMITE will have an impact in the education world, Kate said, “I think it will change the way that teaching is delivered. This idea of very intense periods to solve real world problems in a practical way is a much better way of teaching, rather than learning over the course of a year by going to lectures. I think there will be a shift in how teaching of these practical subjects is delivered. I hope that we will end up with more innovation and that’s ultimately what we want. We want to provide new solutions to improve the way we live our lives.”
NMITE believes role models like Kate Bingham will inspire a new generation of future engineers who Kate describes as “innovators and change-makers”. Other events and speakers will be featured in NMITE’s Summer of Discovery programme running across the summer months.
For more information on NMITE’s Summer of Discovery with new events being added, visit: https://nmite.ac.uk/summerofdiscovery