Brian McCarthy FIMM, FTI, FLS, FRSB, 1955 - 2020

Posted on: 05/06/2020

Remembering the life of our colleague and friend Brian McCarthy, who sadly passed away on 22nd May 2020.


It is with deep regret that we report the untimely death of our colleague and friend Brian McCarthy on 22 May 2020 at the age of 65.


Throughout a successful and varied career, Brian built up an extensive industrial and academic experience underpinned by knowledge transfer, R&D management, business development and commercial expertise gained within the advanced materials and textile/clothing sectors. As a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3), the Textile Institute, the Linnean Society and the Royal Society of Biology, Brian achieved chartered status in the materials science, textile and biosciences sectors. He was editor of two books on textile hygiene and disease control and on polymeric protective textiles. More recently, Brian wrote a well-received KTN report looking at the packaging industry and the use of smart intelligent materials. He had excellent customer relationship and diplomatic skills.


Brian studied Genetics and Developmental Biology at the University of East Anglia for his first degree, awarded in 1976. Following his Masters in Biodeterioration of Materials at the University of Portsmouth, the following year, Brian began his research and industrial career as a group manager responsible for Science at the Wool Industry Research Association (WIRA). Managing WIRA’s R&D portfolio of chemistry and biology projects, he oversaw the successful installation and commissioning of a new microbiology facility. Brian became a director of Wira Technology when he joined the British Textile Technology Group (BTTG), in 1988, as an executive manager. At BTTG, Brian was responsible for disseminating the research outputs from their large R&D portfolio and led the establishment of Shirley Technologies as a dedicated R&D function and test house facility. Brian’s successes at WIRA and BTTG led to his dedication to innovations in the technical textiles industry, bringing in the multidisciplinary knowledge he gained through his studies and early stages of his career to make a huge difference to the industry. This started Brian’s journey with the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), first as a technology translator and business development manager with the newly formed Technical Textiles Faraday Partnership (TechniTex), funded by the UK government.


Brian joined TechniTex in 2000 and by 2004 became the director, having helped to build up a vibrant and successful UK technical textile community of academic researchers, industrialists, product designers and the third sector. He led a successful transition from a university-led partnership to a not-for-profit limited company and later the integration of TechniTex to form part of the Materials KTN in 2005.  Throughout these transitions, Brian managed to ensure KTN’s close connections with the universities that were partners in the original set up of the Faraday Partnership (Heriot-Watt University, University of Leeds and the University of Manchester), ensuring a pipeline of ground-breaking research and innovation for the textiles and clothing industry.


Within KTN, Brian extended his reach to support the packaging industry and provided support to academic researchers and startups to commercialise advanced materials such as graphene, metamaterials and metal organic frameworks (MoFs). Brian continued with his lead role for textiles, having gained a global reputation as an experienced expert on innovations in this sector. He was elected to the Council of the Textile Institute, where he chaired their Special Interest Group on technical textiles. He was also the chair for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded e-Textiles Network.


Away from his work, Brian was a Deacon of his parish church, a keen supporter of Liverpool FC and a volunteer rower, taking part in the annual Lake Windermere Row to raise funds for¬† St. Gemma’s Hospice, a charity providing expert care and support for local people in Leeds with terminal and life-limiting illnesses.


Brian leaves behind his wife Jan and daughter Bethany. Brian was truly a kind, gentle and generous person who will never be forgotten. He will be sadly missed.

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