Who We Are

Our Story

PILAR was co-founded by two UK-based researchers with a shared interest in chronic disease research, from specific age-related diseases like cancer and heart disease to general age-related frailty. Through their experience attempting collaborations with researchers in two SE Asian countries to which they had familial ties, the Philippines and Indonesia, they became aware of just how limited the opportunities and resources were to conduct impactful public health and biomedical research in those countries. That realisation prompted the creation of PILAR, short for Philippine and Indonesian Scholars. The idea behind PILAR's Research Network is simple: to provide a place for scholars to network, collaborate, and maximise their research experience, and ultimately contribute to the advancement of public health and biomedical science.

As an organisation with contributors in two countries with developing economies, we also seek to help build the research capabilities of the respective countries through the provision of research and educational resources and opportunities, as well as leveraging the relevant output of our research to advocate for improvements in scientific research, education, and healthcare systems and services.

Our Team

  • Dr. Johnathan Watkins

    Co-Founder and Research Director

    Johnathan is co-founder, chair of the trustees, and research director on precision medicine and public health with a strong interest in longevity research. He is a graduate of the University of Cambridge, holds a PhD in Cancer Genomics from King's College London, and is a management consultant at a top global advisory firm. He has a patent for predicting therapeutic response in cancer patients and has published in high-impact journals such as The Lancet and Nature Medicine.

  • Dr. Wahyu Wulaningsih

    Co-Founder and Research Director

    Wulan is co-founder, deputy chair of the trustees, and research director on smoking- and obesity-related projects. She qualified in medicine in Indonesia before pursuing an MRes and PhD in Cancer Studies at King's College London in the UK, where she helped found the King's Cancer Studies Student Committee. She was previously a postdoc at the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health & Ageing at University College London, and is now a medical doctor in Hampshire, England.

  • Natalie Tarin

    Marketing and Fundraising Manager

    Natalie is PILAR’s marketing and fundraising manager. She is an MBA graduate from Murdoch University in Australia. She has many years of experience working for large corporations and startup companies across South East Asia with a focus on marketing and sales.

  • Lintang Cahyaningsih

    Communications Manager

    Lintang is PILAR’s communication manager with a focus on Indonesia. She holds an undergraduate degree in Communication Studies at Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia where she was the Editor-in-Chief of the university newspaper. She was recently awarded a summer school scholarship from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

  • Ariel Kenneth Ampol

    Data Engineer

    Ariel is PILAR's data engineer. He graduated from the University of the Philippines, Manila with a degree in Computer Science, specialising in Statistical Computing. He is also currently an Application Management Specialist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). Occasionally, he teaches a course in ITIL/ITSM offered by HPE in several universities.

  • Prof. Tim O’Brien


    Tim serves a senior research advisor for PILAR. He is currently Professor of Mathematics & Statistics at Loyola University Chicago, and a former Senior Science Advisor and Jefferson Science Fellow at USAID. He has led a number of statistical methods workshops in South East Asia and has more than 50 peer-reviewed publications to his name, with a particular research interest in optimal design of experiments.

  • Prof. Ton Coolen


    Ton serves a senior research advisor for PILAR. He is currently the Head of the Institute for Mathematical & Molecular Biomedicine at King's College London. He specialises in the development of advanced mathematical methods, with a strong focus on their application to medicine. His research has always had a strongly multidisciplinary flavour, with more than 150 peer-reviewed publications and three books to his name.

  • Dr. Mieke van Hemelrijck


    Mieke serves as a senior research advisor for PILAR. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in Cancer Epidemiology in the Division of Cancer Studies at King’s College London and Head of the Cancer Epidemiology Group. She leads a programme at King's Health Partners that brings together researchers and clinicians involved in prostate cancer research, and has an interest in metabolic and inflammatory biomarkers and pan-cancer risk factors.