Usher Institute

Life science industry leader appointed Director of Health and Social Care Data-Driven Innovation programme

Dr Marcus Harrison, formerly Chief Operating Officer at the Medicines Discovery Catapult, will lead the Health and Social Care Data-Driven Innovation (HSCDDI) programme at the University of Edinburgh as it seeks to drive advances in health and social care through the application of data science.

Dr Marcus Harrison profile photo against dark navy background
Dr Marcus Harrison, newly appointed Director of the Health and Social Care Data-Driven Innovation programme

The programme is hosted by the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute, a centre of academic excellence in the use and application of data within population health.

New innovation community

Marcus brings a wealth of life science sector expertise, ranging from industry to research organisations. As Director of the HSCDDI programme, he will play a vital role in establishing an Usher Innovation Community, centred on the new Usher building currently under construction at Edinburgh BioQuarter.

Due to open in early 2024, the new Usher building will bring together academics, service professionals and industry from across Scotland and the UK, focused on transforming health and social care through data. Its construction forms a key component of Edinburgh BioQuarter’s wider development over the coming years – creating Edinburgh’s health innovation district.

Tackling health and care challenges

An initial online Usher Innovation Community will be launched on 16 November, in advance of the building’s completion, to begin to integrate the activities of service professionals, academics and industry to identify new, co-produced data-driven insights and solutions to our most pressing health and care challenges.

Supporting innovation and collaboration across the community, Marcus will also oversee the DataLoch service and Talent programme, which together provide a strong foundation for the Innovation Community. DataLoch is a unique and secure data service developed in partnership by the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian to transform access to routine health and care data involving nearly 1 million people across Edinburgh and South-East Scotland. The Talent programme incorporates education and training packages that are designed to support a future health and care workforce with the knowledge and skills to drive the use of data and digital technologies.  

Putting data at the centre of responses to health and social care system challenges is crucial to improving services and treatment through research, innovation and planning. I’m particularly excited by the opportunity to stimulate data-driven collaboration across sectors, working together to identify, evaluate and adopt new solutions to transform the health and wellbeing of the population.

Dr Marcus HarrisonDirector, Health and Social Care Data-Driven Innovation

I’m pleased to welcome Marcus to the Health and Social Care Data-Driven Innovation programme as it embarks on this exciting new phase of delivery. Collaboration across academic and industry partners is a key focus of the DDI initiative. With his industry background and life science sector expertise, Marcus is well-placed to facilitate the interdisciplinary working so crucial to innovation. We look forward to the launch of the Usher Innovation Community later this year.

Jarmo EskelinenExecutive Director, Data-Driven Innovation initiative

Further information 

Dr Marcus Harrison bio

Dr Marcus Harrison is an executive within the life sciences sector, currently leading the Health and Social Care Data-Driven Innovation programme at the University of Edinburgh.

Marcus has many years’ experience working at the forefront of life science innovation, translating discoveries into tangible products and services, with SMEs, start-ups and university spin-outs.

Prior to joining the University of Edinburgh, Marcus was Chief Operating Officer at the Medicines Discovery Catapult. There he played a pivotal role in shaping and growing the organisation from the ground up into a high impact, multi-million revenue organisation, with a national reputation for supporting the drug discovery sector. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, he was involved in the rapid set up and establishment of the Alderley Park Lighthouse Laboratory – a diagnostic facility providing mass COVID-19 PCR testing for the nation.

Marcus’ broad background extends across diagnostics, medical devices and drug discovery. He is a computational scientist by training with a doctorate in Theoretical Physics.

Related links


HSCDDI Talent programme

Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) initiative

Edinburgh BioQuarter