Leicestershire Healthcare Inequalities Improvement Doctoral Training Programme

Our fellows

Cohort 1 (2022 intake)

Frank Arsenyadis

Frank Arsenyadis profileFrank Arsenyadis

I’m Frank, a Wellcome Trust Doctoral Training Programme Fellow and Research Dietitian at the University of Leicester and Leicester Biomedical Research Centre. My background is a mix of clinical and research. I started my clinical dietetic role while concurrently applying to the National Institute of Health and Care Research’s Integrated Clinical Academic Programme where I had the opportunity to conduct research in parallel to treating patients. This led me to apply for a research role at the Leicester Diabetes Centre, where I could see that the clinical research conducted today affected patients’ lives tomorrow. My mixed clinical and research interests have now led me to start my Wellcome Trust funded PhD project.

My Doctoral Training Programme will see me develop a weight loss optimisation strategy for older South Asian adults living with Type 2 Diabetes. This will be tested through a clinical trial using lifestyle intervention. A more targeted approach is necessary, one that spares muscle while achieving fat loss. I will delve deeper into the mechanisms linking muscle, weight loss and long term health through this research project and equip frontline healthcare professionals and people living with Type 2 Diabetes with new lifestyle approaches to optimise weight loss and promote long, healthier lives.

The focus on using lifestyle approach to achieve positive outcomes is something I enjoy in my own time. When not working, you can find me cycling, running or rowing (indoors). In my opinion, nothing beats discovering the beauties of the countryside while taking exercise during a sunny day.

Holly Drover

Holly Drover profileHolly Drover

After graduating as a Physiotherapist from the University of Nottingham in 2019, I worked as a Rotational Physiotherapist across a range of specialities including cardio-respiratory, orthopaedics and pelvic health. During this time, I developed an interest in the management of respiratory conditions and gained a Senior Respiratory Physiotherapist role at Nottingham University Hospitals.

Alongside my clinical role, I developed my research skills by completing an NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic Internship and completing Masters modules in Research Methods (Health) at the University of Nottingham. I was able to present my work at national and regional conferences.

Working clinically in a geographical area with a diverse population has made me realise the importance of engaging all members of our community in research. The Leicestershire Health Inequality Improvement Programme aims to work with the diverse population of Leicestershire and I look forward to working alongside the ethnically and culturally diverse population to improve health outcomes.

My project, titled “Breathlessness perceptions of under-represented groups to develop a culturally tailored symptom management intervention” will address the need for culturally appropriate respiratory rehabilitation in the UK. I was attracted to this project as breathlessness is currently treated by a one-size fits all model and this project will work with individuals impacted by breathlessness and design an intervention that meets their needs.

Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, cooking and exploring new places.

Lucy Gardiner

Lucy Gardiner profileLucy Gardiner

I'm a physiotherapist by background and passionate about enabling people living with long-term conditions to live well, based on evidence-informed practice.

I qualified in 2010 (Manchester Metropolitan University) and worked clinically in a range of trusts and roles; most recently chronic respiratory disease/rehabilitation focused. Having developed a strong interest in all things cardio-respiratory and research, I went on to join the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Respiratory Care (ACPRC) committee as regional network lead in 2018 and complete a masters in cardiorespiratory physiotherapy in 2019 (University College London). Stemming from poor uptake and engagement in pulmonary rehabilitation, I developed a keen interest in factors influencing health behaviours and health inequalities.

Having realised my ambition for a clinical academic career, I sought opportunities for rehabilitation-related research experience and moved into an academic post (in physiotherapy) at the University of Birmingham late 2019. Though education-focused (PGCert completed in 2021), I continued to pursue my research interests and find my path to PhD. My ACPRC committee role provided invaluable opportunities to network, collaborate, present, and much more, all of which have played a significant role in my development and career path.

Given my interests and ambitions, the Leicestershire Health Inequalities Improvement Doctoral Training Programme seemed an ideal opportunity! My project: ‘The impact of Long COVID-19 on the multi-morbid individual – integration to a multi-morbid exercise-based rehabilitation programme’ ties in closely with my core interests and provides me with great research development opportunities including large data management.

Outside of the world of clinical academia, I love travelling, hiking, reading, playing the piano.

Mary Harrison

Mary Harrison profileMary Harrison

My name's Mary and I am a Trainee Advanced Clinical Practitioner (ACP) and Clinical Academic Nurse in University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust based at the Leicester Diabetes Centre. Since qualifying in 2003 I have worked mainly in acute care areas such as intensive care. I have also had several research nurse roles and was even the governance lead for a short time- but missed contact with patients! These posts engaged me in clinical research, and fostered a desire to undertake my own research. Since then, I have successfully been awarded the NIHR Research Internship, NIHR funded Masters of Research an NIHR Pre-doctoral Fellow and is now a Fellow on the Wellcome Trust Health Inequalities Doctoral Training Programme (DTP).

I was looking for a suitable DTP, and this programme, ran and led by an Allied Health Professional, fitted really well to my career goals and clinical passions.

Outside of work I am a classically trained singer, singing with groups and performing in musicals and concerts regularly. I enjoy walking our dog and being outdoors having adventures with my children.

This brings me to my most important role, as mum of two lovely children, a golden retriever and the wife of a loving man- I am thankful for them every day.

Jo McAllister

Jo McAllister profileJo McAllister

I am nursing academic, who has maintained a passion for rehabilitation, public health and research across my career to date. I have 14 years clinical experience in primary and secondary care settings, working as an exercise physiologist in cardiac rehabilitation and a registered critical care nurse in the British Army. I moved into higher education and became Deputy Head of Nursing for the unique MSci Dual Qualification Nursing with Leadership programmes at the University of Leicester.

Pathways for nursing clinical academics are not always easy to identify, therefore the Wellcome Trust LHIIP DTP provided a distinctive opportunity to become directly involved in research, allowing me to develop a research portfolio whilst influencing clinical care and improving patient outcomes. Key benefits of the programme such as financial support, a generous training budget, internationally recognised project supervisors and the support ofeing a in cohort of research fellows creates an enthusiastic and enjoyable research environment to work in. The programme is allowing me to develop essential researcher skills according to my individual needs, which I aim to transfer into future research projects.

My project will focus on health inequalities in cardiac rehabilitation and is an exciting opportunity to explore how to make this vital service accessible and suitable for the diverse population of Leicester, and potentially advise other rehabilitation programmes across the country. I am passionate about promoting excellent nursing research and innovative clinical practises, and I hope to demonstrate how this is possible to future cohorts of student and qualified nurses.

Cohort 2 (2023 intake)

Faye Ashton

Faye Ashton headshotSince qualifying from Sheffield Hallam University in 2015, I have worked as a Registered Nurse in several acute clinical areas within the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, including cardiac surgery, adult intensive care and ECMO. Most recently, I have worked as a vascular research nurse within the National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, coordinating and recruiting to commercial and academic studies as part of the vascular and endovascular surgery research teams. I have been the lead nurse for a number of NIHR HTA funded studies, enabling our team to be the highest recruiting site both nationally and internationally. In addition to high quality research delivery, I have been heavily involved in raising research awareness across the multi-disciplinary teams and clinical specialities by hosting monthly teaching for junior doctors, speaking at the Royal College of Surgeons and mentoring clinical research practitioners and associate-PI’s in the NIHR Associate-PI scheme.

Working as a research nurse highlighted the importance of today’s research and how it impacts tomorrow’s clinical care and decision making. My clinical and academic interests led me to apply for the prestigious Leicestershire Healthcare Inequalities Improvement Doctoral Training Programme (LHIIP).

I am the first LHIIP fellow to study at the world-renowned National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM) at Loughborough University, which is an exciting opportunity. My project is looking at the effects of a group of medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RA) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptides (GIP), which are currently licensed to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity. I will be looking at the effects on brain activity, through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in South Asian and white European populations.

I am also passionate about challenging professional stereotypes and channelling a pathway for other nurses, midwives and allied health professionals to embark on a clinical academic career; being visible, approachable and inspiring is a key part of being a LHIIP fellow.

Outside of work and my clinical academic career, I enjoy open-water swimming and this year have set myself the challenge of completing ten swims under 10 degrees Celsius.

Jonathan Goldney

Jonathan Goldney headshotI am a Wellcome Trust Doctoral Training Fellow in Leicester with an interest in early-onset type 2 diabetes, physical activity and lifestyle. I am a doctor-in-training by background and am currently out-of-programme from Internal Medicine Training (stage 1) having recently finished as an NIHR Academic Clinical fellow in Diabetes and Endocrinology. I also have an intercalated BSc in Sports and Exercise Science from Loughborough University.

My work is focused on improving care for young people (<40 years) with Type 2 diabetes (termed early onset type 2 diabetes; EOT2D), and more broadly, for young-people with obesity. EOT2D is more prevalent in women, people with higher levels of social deprivation, and people of south Asian or black ethnicity; thus highlighting important healthcare inequalities. My PhD aims to seek ways to minimise the bio-, psycho-, social- burden of EOT2D, with a particular focus on weight loss medications (to improve cardiovascular risk) alongside exercise (with the potential to ameliorate lean muscle mass loss seen with weight loss therapies). I will also continue to work on the holistic person-centred multi-component “M3” randomised controlled trial, looking at new ways of working with people with EOT2D, having previously having a role in the design of this trial. Other work and interests include looking at measures of physical activity and physical function and their association with health and disease within big data, particularly for young people with metabolic disease.

Kate Kontou

Kate Kontou headshotI qualified in 2009 from Sheffield Hallam University and for most of my clinical career have worked overseeing pulmonary rehabilitation as a Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist and non-medical prescriber. Post-pandemic, I have engaged in a range of fellowship opportunities to include Yorkshire and Humber’s “Future Leaders Programme”, and the National “Population Health” fellowship scheme.

Whilst completing my Future Leaders Programme Fellowship, I completed a PGCert in “Public Health - Leadership and Management”, which brought to the forefront my passion for reducing health inequalities and to work on larger-scale upstream interventions to keep people living in better health for longer.

On completing the Population Health Fellowship, I was successful in obtaining a “Clinical Programme Manager” role overseeing Sheffield’s city-wide Long Covid Programme strategically and Rehabilitation Hub clinically and operationally. This role required using quality improvement methodologies to iteratively co-design and co-produce a rehabilitation provision to meet the needs of the population.

The ambitions of the Leicestershire Health Inequalities Improvement Doctoral Training Programme align with my values, and this opportunity provides the perfect next step. My project: “Exploring how Long Covid Rehabilitation should be designed to address ethnicity, language and digital divide health inequalities” provides ample opportunity to develop research skills across mixed methods.

I currently sit on the AHP Public Health Expert Advisory Group, chair the AHPs in Population Health SY Network, and was recently awarded “Highly Commended” for the CAHPO Public Health Champion Award. Outside work, I support Burnley, play cricket and enjoy spending time with friends.

Bría McAllister

Bria McAllister headshotI’m a nurse by background, qualifying in 1998, and have worked across a variety of clinical settings in Ireland, England and Scotland. Since 2004, I have worked in Urology as a Nurse Practitioner working to advance patient care and improve access for patients of underserved backgrounds. As part of this role, I co-created a community-based prostate cancer clinic targeting men of African-Caribbean background which was highly successful in improving knowledge and detection of prostate cancer in this high-risk group. I have also collaborated with a local prison to improve services for their residents who often find healthcare difficult to access.

I came late to academia, completing my BSc in 2006, and my MSc in 2014, however I’m a firm believer that you’re never too old to learn and change. My PhD project will investigate the role that indoor air pollution plays in the development of lung cancer in never-smokers of different ethnicities. While this is a change from Urology, it explores cancer in minority ethnic populations, which has been my focus for many years.

I am very proud to be working alongside the Wellcome Trust in driving research forward, and working towards my goal of Clinical Academia.

Outside my life as a nurse and academic I play traditional Irish fiddle, and enjoy hiking and wild swimming any chance I get. I have a wonderful husband, fabulous grown-up son, and useless rescue dog. I come from a family of inspiring and strong women who have a habit of changing their lives in their mid-forties, and am delighted to be continuing this proud family tradition.

Harini Sathanapally

Harini Sathanapally headshotI am a General Practitioner by background and my broad research aims are to improve the care of people of with multiple long-term conditions and to help address the health inequalities that arise in our local population in the East Midlands. My interest in research first started with an intercalated BSc that I undertook between 4th and 5th years at medical school. It was a qualitative project that involved conducting interviews and was a great way to combine the communication skills I had been developing through my undergraduate medical training, with the knowledge and understanding of clinical research that I was acquiring through the BSc. It was also an opportunity for me to work alongside clinical academics, including Academic GP's and through this I understood that developing research skills as a clinician, provides the agency to find ways of providing answers and solutions to the questions and problems that may arise in everyday clinical practice.

I later chose General Practice as my clinical specialty and wanted to continue my research training alongside my clinical training. I became an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow in General Practice, through which I was able to complete a Master of Research degree in Clinical Sciences and gain more practical experience of conducting research, under the guidance of experienced clinical academics.

The next step in my clinical academic career was to undertake a PhD, and the Wellcome trust LHIIP DTP was a valuable opportunity for me to undertake a PhD as a clinical academic. My PhD project aims to investigate and understand the symptomatic perceptions of breathlessness in culturally diverse populations and aligns closely with my research interests, as well as providing with invaluable opportunities for training and development as an Academic GP.

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