She is replacing Nicole Mather after her three and a half year stint in the role. The OLS is a shared team between the Department of Health and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Ms McLeod has worked in health at Whitehall for over a decade. Her most recent position was as Director of Strategy at the Department of Health.
The OLS's objective is to build the UK's life sciences industry into a global hub and make the UK the home of clinical research and medical innovation. The OLS collaborates across the life sciences sector including with the Department for International Trade's Life Sciences Organisation and with the NHS to improve access to evidence and innovation.
During Ms Mather's period in charge, the OLS has introduced the Early Access to Medicines Scheme to try to get products to patients quicker. It has also introduced Test Beds to enable digital innovations to be integrated into patient pathways. In addition, the OLS has tried to encourage the uptake of innovation with the Accelerated Access Review. It has also contributed to the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy.
Having now become fully established, the OLS links people from Government with NHS England to the DIT and other bodies such as NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) and the MHRA (the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), and provides a focus for the pharmaceutical industry when liaising with Government.
Mike Thompson, Chief Executive of the ABPI (the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry), welcomed Ms McLeod's appointment, saying:
"We have a real opportunity to create an environment for Britain to be one of the best places in the world for discovering, developing and adopting the very best of modern medicine - Kristen’s expertise and experience at the heart of health policymaking provides fresh impetus to this effort. I look forward to working with Kristen and her team."