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Birmingham and Solihull Mental health NHS Foundation Trust
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Meet the team

Research and Innovation (R&I) within BSMHFT is supported by a skilled team with a variety of backgrounds and interests. The Research and Innovation team, which is based at the Barberry Centre, works to support staff across the Trust with the scoping, planning and delivery of research projects, innovation initiatives and service evaluations. Staff is also available to guide and support students and academics wishing to carry out research within the Trust.

The team deals with all aspects of R&I, including NHS permissions, setting up studies, developing locally led studies, and supporting studies that sit within the NIHR portfolio.

Professor Alex Copello, Associate Director of Research

M: 07985 882870

E: alex.copello1@nhs.net 

Alex is the Associate Director for Research and Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust and Professor of Addiction Research at the School of Psychology, University of Birmingham. His career combines clinical and academic work. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods his interests include the study of psychosocial approaches to addiction and mental health problems, the impact of addiction upon families and friends and the development and evaluation of family and social network based psychological interventions for addiction and mental health problems.  Alex’s research has led to major impacts on addiction treatment in the UK in recent years. He was Principal Investigator in the MRC funded UK Alcohol Treatment Trial, the largest multicentre trial of alcohol treatments conducted in the UK that informs effective and cost-effective delivery of psychosocial interventions for alcohol problems. He led the development of a social and family intervention (Social Behaviour and Network Therapy) used in the trial and shown to be as effective as a more established individual treatment. His 5-Step family intervention work in primary care and specialist NHS services with colleagues in the UK has been recommended in the NICE guidelines for drug problems as well as in guidelines for commissioning services for carers. His work on integration of substance misuse treatment into mental health services has been quoted as a model of good practice in national guidelines and recommended for wider implementation. Alex has received NIHR and MRC research funding over the past few years as chief or principal investigator for a number of psychological intervention trials. Alex publishes regularly and widely in international academic scientific journals.

Dr Peter Lewis, Associate Director of Innovation

M: 07985882785

E: peter.lewis6@nhs.net 

Peter was the Medical Director for the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust from June 2009 to March 2016 and currently is the Associate Director for Innovation and Consultant Psychiatrist for the Trust. He is a Board Member and Mental Health Clinical Lead of the West Midlands Academic Health Sciences Network (WMAHSN) since the inception of the organisation in 2013.

He completed his training in medicine at the University of the West Indies in 1972, specialised in psychiatry at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto, Canada, and obtained the Fellowship in Psychiatry from the Canadian Royal College of Psychiatrists in 1979. He has held appointments with the United Nations and the World Health Organisation to develop illicit drug control and prevention programmes in Africa and the Caribbean.

Emma Patterson, Head of Research & Innovation

T: 0121 301 4343

M: 07812 621177

E: emma.patterson4@nhs.net

Emma has overall responsibility for the strategic development, delivery and operational management of the Research and Innovation function as the Head of Research and Innovation within the Trust. Her role was developed to ensure that R&I is developed, delivered and initiated across the organisation to ensure that service users have access to the most innovative treatments/care pathways and access to research that is relevant to them and their carers.  Working alongside the Associate Director for Research and the Associate Director for Innovation, she is responsible for ensuring the Trust delivers the strategic ambition to, ‘Drive research, innovation and technology to enhance care’.

Emma joined the Trust in 2015 and has a wealth of knowledge and experience in R&I having spent 15 years as a Senior Manager in the NHS, leading Research, Clinical Audit and Medical Education at various Trusts across the West Midlands.  Immediately prior to joining the Trust, and whilst the Manger of the West Midlands (South) Local Clinical Research Network, she successfully engaged with all key stakeholders to merge twelve research networks (total budget of £29 million) into one highly functioning research delivery network now known as the West Midlands Clinical Research Network (WM CRN)

Simran Dutt, Bank Research and Innovation Assistant

T: 0121 301 4343


E: simran.dutt@nhs.net 

Simran has worked in the trust since 2017. She has obtained a degree from Birmingham City University in BSc Psychology and is currently studying an MSc in Foundations in Clinical Psychology at Staffordshire University. She has previously worked with the team on a volunteer basis and has successfully published a journal article specifically on mindfulness and eating behaviours. She has worked in education with children with learning disabilities, in addition to working alongside mental health community teams with research. She also assists in clinical trials and provides support to CSO's and research nurses. 

Linda Everard, R&I Implementation and Performance Manager

T: 0121 301 4348

M: 07985 882486

E: linda.everard2@nhs.net

Linda completed a BSc in Psychology in 2005 and went on to work as an Assistant Psychologist in the field of Children’s Mental Health, Specialist Learning Disabilities services and then onto Adult Psychosis Services around the West Midlands. In 2008 she joined the trusts’ Early Intervention in Psychosis service, in a joint research/clinical role, which then led her to manage the DOH funded National EDEN Study, looking into the effectiveness of the implementation of Early Interventions Services across the country. In 2010 she secured the position of Programme Manager for the NIHR funded Super EDEN programme which involved looking at the sustained positive engagement and recovery in first episode psychosis nationally. During this time, she was accepted to do a presentation at the International Early Psychosis Association (IEPA) conference in Tokyo to speak about the research, and specifically about what happens to service users once they leave high intensity Early Intervention Services. Since 2015, Linda has worked as the Research and Innovation Implementation and Performance Manager in the trust, managing the delivery and governance team ensuring ‘smart’ allocation of resource to support study set up and delivery and ensuring studies meet or exceed their recruitment targets. 

Dr Clare Eddy, Senior Research Fellow

T: 0121 301 2514

M: 07985 883014

E: clare.eddy1@nhs.net

Clare gained a First Class Honours Degree in Psychology and was then awarded a competitive scholarship to support a PhD in Behavioural Neuroscience. She joined BSMHFT as a Senior Research Fellow in 2009. Since then she has led a programme of research within neuropsychiatry and published approximately 60 peer-reviewed articles on topics such as cognition and quality of life in disorders including Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Tourette syndrome and epilepsy. She was awarded funding to conduct brain imaging studies in Huntington’s, and to run the first ever trial of brain stimulation to help with memory problems in these patients. Clare has spoken about her research at many National and International conferences, including those held by organisations such as the American Neuropsychiatric Association, European Huntington’s Disease Network and The Royal College of Psychiatrists. Her ground-breaking research into social cognition in Tourette syndrome was featured on the BBC television program Employable Me (2016). In addition to her original role, Clare currently works for the Trust as Portfolio Development Manager, developing materials and infrastructure to support research activities across the Trust, and reviewing and advising staff in relation to research methodology, publishing and funding applications.

Katie Williams, Research Governance Manager

T: 0121 301 4320

M: 07985 882550

E: katie.williams10@nhs.net

Katie completed a BSc in Human Psychology with Professional Training at Aston University in 2008 and has since worked as a Research Assistant at the Derby Mental Health Research Unit, followed by eight years at the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network West Midlands (NIHR CRN: West Midlands) before joining the BSMHFT’s Research and Innovation department in July 2016. During her time at the NIHR CRN: West Midlands, Katie supported 12 NHS Trusts and neighbouring Clinical Trials Units with research study set up and research governance, often leading on the governance set up of complex multi-centre projects (one of which was awarded Clinical Trial of the Year 2014 by the Society for Clinical Trials). While in the Trust, Katie has lead on the governance set up of all research undertaken here, including the operational processes of the Assess, Arrange and Confirm Team, and developing a suite of Standard Operating Procedures and Policies.  

Donna Allin, Business Admin Manager

T: 0121 301 2075

E: donna.allin@nhs.net

Donna has worked at the Trust since 2007, currently working alongside the Research Manager in processing and approving research studies and associated documentation for the R&I Department. Previous NHS experience includes PA work and team support.

Leanne Haynes, Senior Research Governance Facilitator

T: 0121 301 4323

E: Leanne.haynes@nhs.net

Leanne has supported clinical research across the Midlands since 2011.  During that time she has developed her research skills and knowledge by working in delivery and facilitator roles.  Leanne has lots of experience of working in research governance.  In her previous role she carried out research Sponsor reviews for the University of Birmingham.

Ashley Jones, Research and Innovation Assistant

T: 0121 301 4340

M: 07985883723

E: ashley.jones7@nhs.net

Ashley has completed a BSc (Hons) in Psychology at Lancaster University, followed by an MSc in Applied Neuropsychology at the University of Bristol. Her academic research focused on her interest in false memories and she has experience conducting FMRI studies. Clinically, she has worked as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist within a Clinical Health Psychology team in the North West. Ashley started her first paid position within the trust in 2016 at the Memory Assessment Service before moving into the Research and Innovation post in 2019. 

Audrey Smith, R&I Team Administrator

T: 0121 301 4343

E: audrey.smith8@nhs.net

Audrey holds a Diploma of Higher Education in Industrial Information Technology. Audrey has worked for the Trust within the R&I department for nearly 10 years.  She has held similar posts at other Birmingham based Universities prior to joining the Trust. She provides administrative support to the research team which includes servicing committees, themed research meetings and diary management as well as purchasing of stock and non-stock purchases and book travel for the department. She was instrumental in the organising of research conferences for the department which was attended by national and international speakers and took place over a number of days.

Di Baines, Clinical Trials Coordinator

T: 0121 301 2068

M: 07985 882171

E: di.baines@nhs.net

Di has worked for the Trust since graduating from University of Warwick in 2004, starting as a Research Assistant for the Deaf Service.  She joined R&I in 2010 on a secondment and for a number of years split her time between R&I and Deaf Service.  She led a number of projects during her time at the Deaf Service, published a peer review paper on the disparity between length of hospital stay for deaf mental health patients compared with hearing patients, contributed a chapter to a book on Deafness and Challenging Behaviour, presented at a number of conferences in the UK as well as one in South Africa. She is currently working solely for the R&I department as a Clinical Studies Officer.  Di has gained valuable experience working on studies across many areas of mental health.  

Roger Morton, Clinical Studies Officer

T: 0121 301 4327

M: 07985 882463

E: roger.morton@nhs.net 

Roger has worked as a CSO for approximately 10 years and took up post after working in Clinical Audit. He completed his Masters at Sheffield Hallam University where his thesis investigated epistemic modality in risk assessments in a forensic environment. Roger has led studies in the validation of risk assessments in medium secure settings, and genetic studies examining medication adverse reactions as well as taking part in various research studies that have been adopted by the National NIHR Portfolio. Before working as a CSO Roger worked in Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust forensic services for 20 years as a HCA.

Rachel Martin, Research Assistant, Kings College London

T: 0121 301 4343

M: 07985882181

E: rachel.martin32@nhs.net

Rachel works on the Alcohol Dependence and Adherence to Medicine (ADAM) trial. The ADAM trial studies the effectiveness of medication management and personal achievement award to help improve adherence to acamprosate (Campral) for relapse prevention in alcohol dependence.

Nadia Starkova, Clinical Studies Officer

T: 0121 301 4335

M: 07985 883600

E: nadezda.starkova@nhs.net

Nadia has been working as a Clinical Studies Officer in the department since 2012.  Throughout this time, she has supported a variety of NIHR portfolio studies including: genetic studies, drug trials, questionnaire studies, commercial trials.  She has worked closely with Early Interventions teams; Dementia services, Mother and Baby services as well as local CMHTs. Nadia completed a BSc in Psychology and is currently finishing an MSc in Mental Health Science. 

Sarah Bicknell, Clinical Studies Officer

T: 0121 301 4330

M: 07985883803

E: s.bicknell@nhs.net

Sarah has worked for the Research and Innovation department since November 2018. She is currently working on several NIHR portfolio studies, mainly in the areas of perinatal mental health and psychosis. Her previous research work focused on the development mother-infant interactions, specifically in the context of babies with cleft lip and/or palate, and the impact of this on the psychological wellbeing of mothers. She has previously worked clinically for over 7 years within several NHS trusts, as well as within third sector mental health services.

Jeevan Bisla, Honorary Research and Innovation Assistant

T: 0121 301 4342

E: jeevan.bisla@nhs.net 

Jeevan is currently studying her Psychology BSc degree at Aston University. Her interest in Psychology is focused in the clinical field. She is currently undertaking her placement year at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust as an honorary Research and Innovation Assistant for 12 months. 

Shabana Akhtar, Research Fellow

T: 0121 301 4334

M: 07985 882165

E: shabana.akhtar@nhs.net

Shabana has worked in Research for over 9 years gaining experience in Dementia, Psychosis, Huntington’s disease, and Addiction. Whilst working for BSMHFT’s Research and Innovation department she has completed a Masters in Clinical Neuropsychiatry at the University of Birmingham. Shah is experienced in the set-up of commercial and non-commercial trials from set up to close down as well as being equipped with Phlebotomy and Laboratory skills.

Elsa Benn, Research Fellow

T: 0121 301 4337

E: e.benn@nhs.net 

Elsa has recently joined the trust as research fellow for Enroll-HD study as maternity cover for Ellice Parkinson. She completed a BSc in Psychology at Goldsmiths; University of London and since graduating has trained as a yoga teacher, focusing on teaching towards individuals with psychological and physiological illnesses (Arthritis, MS, Anxiety, Depression, Alzheimer’s, Dementia). Elsa has experience working in a primary care setting, leading on projects such as Bowel Cancer Screening prevention programmes and is particularly interested in how the mind and body interact and how this view can help to ameliorate disease.

Danielle Hett, Research Fellow

T: 0121 301 4343

E: danielle.hett@nhs.net 

Danielle has recently joined the trust as a research fellow. She will be working with Professor Steven Marwaha researching mood disorders, specifically bipolar disorder. Danielle is also in the final stages of her PhD, which is focused on the role of metacognitive beliefs in the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), at the University of Birmingham. Prior to her PhD, Danielle completed her BSc in Psychology with Ergonomics at Loughborough University and an MSc in Psychological Research Methods at the University of Leicester. She has also worked in different mental health settings, including forensic mental health and as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner in primary care mental health.

Dr Jenny De Souza, Senior Research Fellow

T: 0121 301 2363

E: jennifer.desouza@nhs.net

Jenny has been working in Huntington’s disease (HD) research at BSMHFT since 2005. During this time she has been involved in the setup, recruitment and co-ordination of more than 12 different HD observational studies and clinical trials. Alongside working on these studies, Jenny completed a PhD in 2015 investigating possible familial influences on the psychiatric phenotype in HD and has also published papers on the use of behavioural rating scales in HD. Currently in her role, Jenny is coordinating the HD Clarity study (a multi-site cerebrospinal fluid collection initiative to facilitate therapeutic development for HD) and is furthering her own research into depression in HD. 

Siobhan Keogh, Research Nurse

T: 0121 301 2066

E: siobhankeogh@nhs.net

Siobhan has worked for the trust since 2006 initially as a Clinical Studies Officer in the Mental Health Research Network Heart of England Hub and then later as the Assistant Manager of the Hub. In 2012 she moved over to a research nurse role in the R&I team to combine her research experience with the clinical experience she gained on adult acute units where she began her career as a staff nurse. Siobhan has a degree in Sociology and Social Policy from the University of Liverpool and a Masters in Nursing with distinction.

Siobhan has been involved in a myriad of research roles from recruitment to the coordination of an extensive portfolio of multi-centre trials spanning ten NHS Trusts. During the last thirteen years she has worked on a wide range of studies and trials across all areas of mental health. Her research interests are currently centred around Neuropsychiatry where she coordinates and supports commercial clinical trials in epilepsy.

Siobhan has a dual role in the Neuropsychiatry team where she works as an epilepsy liaison nurse and has a specialist interest in the Modified Ketogenic Diet for the treatment of pharmacoresistant epilepsy in adults.

Ellice Parkinson, Research Fellow (Maternity Leave)

T: 0121 301 4336

M: 07985883587

E: ellice.parkinson@nhs.net

Ellice joined the department back in 2014, after completing an MSc in Clinical Applications of Psychology and a continued interest in conducting research and statistics as part of my studies. Ellice is employed as a Research Fellow, primarily working to deliver and coordinate the Enroll-HD study which is a global, longitudinal, observational study in Huntington’s disease. She has had involvement in many other HD projects, including the breakthrough IONIS study, and has attended HD conferences across Europe. Ellice is currently working on her own study which aims to understand and evaluate the recruitment and retention patterns of the Enroll-HD study, to ultimately improve the data quality of the study as a whole.

Louise Hudson, Clinical Project Manager

T: 0121 301 2075

M: 07812260754

E: louise.hudson3@nhs.net 

Louise has been a mental health nurse for the past 10 years, largely working in acute and urgent care services. She has worked for BSMHFT since 2013, initially within urgent care. Over the last two years, she has been working within projects and service improvement programmes and transitioned to the Research and Innovation team in early 2019. As part of her project work, she has been a mental health trainer and is currently the project manager for the Predictive Analytics project. She is Prince II qualified and works with a number of different departments across the trust as part of the project delivery. The predictive analytics project brings together both research and innovation to potentially improve our care provided to service users, through the use of innovative digital technology.

Jane Dyer, Research Nurse

T: 0121 301 2065

M: 07985 883637

E: jane.dyer2@nhs.net

Jane qualified as an RMN in 1998, after which she spent 13 years working as a Nurse and /or Deputy Ward Manger on Organic and Functional Acute Assessment wards at the Queen Elizabeth Psychiatric Hospital.  She completed a BSc in Mental Health Studies & Specialist Nurse Practitioner in Older Adults in 2003 at Birmingham City University. In 2008, she started working at BSMFT’s Research and Development Department. During her time within the Trust’s R&I Department she has led on DOMINO AD trial and the MADE trial and assisted in various other trials such as the BURDET Trial; training Qualified Nurses in Nursing Homes in relation to nursing people with an organic Illness and AD Genetics and has set up a Database of people in Birmingham and Solihull who have an ICD-10 diagnosis of an Organic Illness, to enable research workers to readily identify people eligible for trials in the future.  She is also a champion for Join Dementia Research assisting people and their carers who are affected by dementia participate in research projects. Jane’s dual role is a Senior Practitioner with the Birmingham Assessment Service; a diagnostic service within BSMHT, since 2009. Her passion and specialty lie in the field of memory problems, in people of all ages.

Analisa Smythe, Research Nurse and Dementia Studies Lead

T: 0121 301 2069

M: 07985 882417

E: a.smythe@nhs.net

Analisa is currently in the final stages of her PhD which is an evaluation of a training intervention for nurses working in Nursing Homes. She completed her MSc in Advanced Nursing Practice in 2008. She also has a PG Cert in Higher Education and an MPhil (Research). She has been awarded five Research Grants since 2010. Most recently she was awarded a grant to conduct a study to develop and evaluate a sustainable model of peer support to improve retention of newly qualified nurses. She is Principal Investigator for this multi-site study. Analisa has published seven papers in peer reviewed journals.  In addition to this role she also works as a Research Nurse and co-ordinates the SYMBAD study which a study of Mirtazapine and Carbamazepine for Agitation in Dementia: HTA-SYMBAD.  Analisa qualified as a Registered Mental Health Nurse in 1996 and has worked with in Research and Innovation for the past 15 years, prior to this she Managed Respite Services for Older People within BSMHFT.

Jan Wright, Research Nurse

T: 0121 301 2067

M: 07985 883878

E: jan.wright11@nhs.net

Jan has worked at the Trust in R&I since September 1998, initially in clinical trials with people who have dementia. In 2005 she also started working on Registry, a study involving participants with Huntington’s disease (this has now become Enroll). Jan has worked as study coordinator on a total of 21 studies with both dementia and Huntington’s disease participants, both clinical and non-clinical, commercial and grant funded studies. Currently she is involved in Legato, Symbad, Enroll and the Lucidity study, as well as working in a clinical role with people with dementia. Whilst working for BSMHFT’s R&I department, Jan completed a Masters in Clinical Neuropsychiatry at the University of Birmingham. Jan is experienced in the set-up, running and close down of studies in the role of study coordinator. She is a qualified phlebotomist who can support her colleagues with their studies, in the collection, preparation and transportation of blood samples.

Jan trained at The Hospital for Sick Children in Great Ormond Street and the Royal Free Hospital in London. She subsequently managed three paediatric wards one of which was at G.O.S, and has the dual qualification of general and Children’s Nurse.

Richard Russell, Clinical lead - Predictive Analytics

M: 07985883739

E:richard.russell7@nhs.net

Richard works on the Predictive Analytics project. The predictive analytics project brings together both research and innovation to potentially improve our care provided to service users, through the use of innovative digital technology.

Shirley Wray, Primary Care Partner - Partners2

T: 0121 301 4332

M: 07985882422

E: shirleywray@nhs.net

Shirley began her career in mental health in 1991 with Birmingham Social services as a qualified Social worker. She qualified as an Approved Social Worker in 1993 and continued in this role up until 2003 and by then was assistant team Manager. In 2003 she joined the newly merged Birmingham and Solihull Mental health Trust as Team Manager for the Ladywood CMHT, which later merged with Handsworth CMHT and became Handsworth and Ladywood CMHT. In between all of this she completed a post graduate diploma with BCU in Counselling and Psychotherapy. She has been working on the Partners2 project since November 2018, which is looking at collaborative care between primary care and secondary care for people with psychosis.

Charlotte Close, Primary Care Partner - Partners2

T: 0121 301 4342

E: charlotte.close@nhs.net                        

Charlotte achieved a first class degree in BSc Psychology, where she completed research in parent-child antenatal attachment trends over the duration of pregnancy. This research is currently being peer reviewed for publication and was presented in poster form at the BPS CYPF Annual Conference. She also achieved Distinction in PGDip Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy and became fully accredited with the BABCP post-graduation. Charlotte has attended advanced training in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and is an active member of the West Midlands ACT Special Interest Group.

Clinically, Charlotte has worked as an assistant psychologist in CAMHS outpatient and crisis assessment, primary care, and secure and complex care services; forensic male inpatient, court diversion services, and forensic community CAMHS. She has worked as a Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist in East Midlands IAPT and now works part-time as an independent ACT and CBT practitioner in Warwickshire. She also has teaching experience having taught A-level Psychology at a local boy’s school, and delivering psychological skills training to NHS Physiotherapists and allied professionals across the UK. Charlotte has joined the PARTNERS2 research trial as a clinical care partner to deliver interventions with clients diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.