Leicestershire Healthcare Inequalities Improvement Doctoral Training Programme

Projects and supervisors 2023

Understanding the presentation of frailty in those with multiple long-term conditions and the effect of rehabilitation

Luke BakerSupervisor

  • Dr Luke Baker

After completing my PhD at Loughborough University in 2018, I joined the University of Leicester as a researcher and have since grown an independent programme of research investigating the reasons why skeletal muscle health is dysfunctional in those with long-term conditions. I now work as part of the Leicester Biomedical Research Centre and have a passion for translating biological findings into patient benefit using a wide array of research methodologies, harnessing the collaborative culture at the University of Leicester to achieve this. As a growing research group, PhD students are a key part of our team and I take great pleasure in providing a learning environment which allows students to be successful in their studies, but also develop a desirable transferable skill set which will empower them to excel in their own research careers in the future.

Aside from work, I spend most of my time out in the countryside with my 2 dogs and family enjoying the outdoors, along with a good country pub lunch.

Informal enquires are welcomed and you can contact me at lab69@leicester.ac.uk.

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The role of ethnicity on the anti-inflammatory effects of lifestyle activity and pulmonary rehabilitation in patients living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Nicolette BishopSupervisor

  • Professor Nicolette Bishop

I joined Loughborough University as a lecturer in September 2000, after completing my PhD at the University of Birmingham. I’ve enjoyed working here ever since and was appointed Professor in Exercise Immunology in 2020. I work in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, based in the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine-East Midlands and I work closely with colleagues at University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust and Leicester University. My PhD students are a key part of our team; I really enjoyed my own PhD and I’ve always strived to provide my students with the same experience that I was lucky enough to receive in terms of skills, support, experience, and guidance.

Away from work, I love spending time with my family and going on long walks across the fields with our dog but seem to spend more time being a taxi driver for our children.

For all informal enquiries, please contact N.C.Bishop@lboro.ac.uk.

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Understanding the role of indoor air pollution on lung cancer risk in never-smokers of different ethnicities: a pilot study

Karen Brown headshotSupervisor

  • Professor Karen Brown

I originally trained as a pharmacist and I’m currently Professor of Translational Cancer Research at the University of Leicester, where I lead the multidisciplinary Cancer Prevention Group. I am also joint lead of the Leicester Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre and Director of the Leicester Cancer Research Centre. I established and am co-Chair of the UK Therapeutic Cancer Prevention Network and represent this Network on the steering group of the Cancer Prevention Europe Consortium.

My research is focussed on the discovery and preclinical development of agents for the prevention of cancer in populations at increased risk, optimising the translation of these therapies to the clinic and conducting early and late phase trials. I have an interest in both natural compounds such as curcumin and resveratrol and existing drugs that can be repurposed for cancer prevention. Intrinsic to my work is improved identification of populations at risk of cancer and the discovery and development of biomarkers for personalising preventive interventions. I also have an interest in the role of metabolic health in cancer development and how this interacts with preventive therapies to influence efficacy. My research over the last 15 years has culminated in her securing Cancer Research UK funding for COLO-PREVENT, a world first platform prevention trial of resveratrol, aspirin and metformin in high-risk patients recruited through the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, which will be conducted across 60 sites.

For all enquiries about this project, please contact kb20@leicester.ac.uk.

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Defining and tackling the barriers to healthcare equity in women of South Asian ethnicity with chronic lung diseases

Bibek Gooptu headshotSupervisor

  • Professor Bibek Gooptu

I am a research clinician who has studied chronic diseases affecting both the airway (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD) and the gas exchange membranes (interstitial lung disease, ILD) of the lung and managed patients with these conditions for 25 years. I have wide experience in interdisciplinary clinical work and research, and have supervised 8 PhD students to successful completion who have focused on a range of analytic approaches.

However this project represents a new research front for me, one I have opened up because of the ethnic health inequalities I have detected in clinics in Leicester and London, particularly for women of South Asian heritage. Its success will rely upon partnerships I and the doctoral student form with experts in different domains, in a patient-centred approach. These will include co-supervisors Dr Shamsa Naveed, who will bring expertise in asthma management in this population, and Dr Linzy Houchen-Wolloff, a research physiotherapist with special interest in pulmonary rehabilitation. Crucial partnerships with social scientists interested in healthcare access and delivery will be facilitated by Professor Natalie Armstrong following successful recruitment to the project.

I am very happy to discuss further with prospective applicants via email (bg129@le.ac.uk).

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Pharmacotherapy and obesity in younger adults with multiple long term conditions: examining the added value of exercise

Joseph HensonSupervisor

  • Dr Joseph Henson

I am a Researcher working in the Leicester Diabetes Research Centre at the University of Leicester. I completed my PhD in 2015 and have worked on multiple experimental and randomised controlled trials focused on diabetes prevention and management. The support I received during my PhD and throughout my time as a post-doc researcher, has reiterated my desire to help others achieve their academic potential. My broad research interests lie in the interaction between sleep, physical activity, sedentary behaviour and health, with a particular focus on type 2 diabetes. 

Arguably my biggest scientific achievement to date, apart from completing my PhD, was reciting the whole periodic table during my groom’s speech to my science teacher wife. When I’m not glued to my desk (albeit a standing one) or getting my unwieldy limbs stuck in soft play equipment, I can probably be found running around in ever increasing circles in preparation for my next running challenge. If you have any questions regarding the project, please feel free to contact me at jjh18@leicester.ac.uk.

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Adaptation and testing of the Your Covid Recovery© programme to address ethnicity, language and digital divide health inequalities

Linzy Houchen WoloffSupervisor

  • Dr Linzy Houchen-Wolloff

I have worked in the field of rehabilitation for almost 16 years. I graduated from Coventry University in 2006 with a first-class honour’s degree in Physiotherapy and was successfully awarded my PhD in 2012 with the thesis entitled ‘the effects of resistance training and protein ingestion on skeletal muscle function in COPD.’

I am a Senior Research Physiotherapist within the Centre for Exercise and Rehabilitation Science (CERS) at The University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL) and Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of Respiratory Sciences, University of Leicester. I am passionate about supporting Allied Healthcare Professionals to do research and lead research within Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy at UHL.  

I am a co-investigator on several departmental projects, working alongside the clinical Pulmonary and Cardiac Rehabilitation Teams and lead investigator on a multisite study funded by the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit Programme. I am currently leading the local patient and public involvement (PPI) work for the PHOSP-Covid study collaborative. My areas of interest and expertise include exercise testing in patients with chronic respiratory and cardiac conditions, pulmonary/ COVID and cardiac rehabilitation, digital health, self-management, PPI and quantitative methodology. I regularly support PhD students with their studies as a supervisor, examiner and by serving on progress review panels.

If you’d like to contact me about this project, please email Linzy.Houchen@uhl-tr.nhs.uk.

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Intersectional inequalities in obesity management and related multimorbidity

Will Johnson headshotSupervisor

  • Dr Will Johnson

I joined Loughborough University as a Lecturer in 2016 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2019. Prior to this, I held postdoctoral positions at the University of Minnesota’s Division for Epidemiology and Community Health (2011-2012), the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL (2013-2014), and MRC Human Nutrition Research (2015-2016). 

Between 2017 and 2020, I held an MRC New Investigator Research grant investigating how life course processes and factors explain heterogeneity in cardiometabolic outcomes among people with the same body mass index. More generally, my research focuses on trends, inequalities, and other forms of variation in the development, causes, and consequences of obesity and related diseases. From conducting this research, I have also developed an interest in statistical methods to model longitudinal data and investigate complex associations, particularly multilevel and growth mixture modelling. 

I take great joy from mentoring and supervising talented students and early career researchers. I am in regular contact with all my former PhD students and postdocs and continue to advise and work with them as a colleague and friend. 

My wife is Portuguese and we spend holidays in the rural mountains of Portugal with our three children.

If you would like to contact me about this project, please email W.O.Johnson@lboro.ac.uk.

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Ethnic inequalities in mental and physical multimorbidity in women before, during and after the menopause transition: modulatory effects of physical activity

Emma O'Donnell headshotSupervisor

  • Dr Emma O’Donnell

I am a Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology with a specialist focus on cardiovascular physiology and pathophysiology. My research is centred the cardiovascular consequences of estrogen deficiency, due to both menopause in postmenopausal women and functional hypothalamic amenorrhea in premenopausal women. Specifically, much of my work has examined the interactions between the female sex hormone, estrogen, and exercise training on cardiovascular health, including blood pressure regulation, heart rate regulation, and vascular function and structure in both sedentary and exercise trained, in pre- and post-menopausal women. Due to estrogen being the dominant sex hormone in premenopausal women, menstrual cycle health, and menstrual disturbances associated with exercise training, also features prominently in my research. The effects of estrogen therapy on cardiovascular health in postmenopausal women is also included in my research.  

Due to the multifaceted aspect of my work, I am able to disseminate my research through both clinical and non-clinical avenues that reaches a broad range of practitioners and researchers in the areas of: menopause, endocrinology, reproductive health, exercise physiology, cardiology, and sports medicine. Accordingly, my work is published in wide range of specialised journals, such as: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Menopause, Hypertension, and the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine in Science and Sports.  

For all informal enquiries, please contact me at e.odonnell@lboro.ac.uk.

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Health inequalities in multimorbidity; the roles of stress, physical activity and sedentary behaviour on markers of disease risk

Nicola Paine headshotSupervisor

  • Dr Nicola Paine

I am a Senior Lecturer in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University. My research focuses on understanding the interacting roles of psychological stress and our health behaviours (e.g., physical activity, sitting time and exercise) on cardiovascular disease development and acute disease events. She uses a range of psychobiological techniques, including assessment of the cardiovascular and inflammatory system, to investigate these interests. My research is currently funded by a Springboard award from the Academy of Medical Sciences, and I have also received funding from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the Canadian Institute of Health Research. I’m a member of the Lifestyle theme of the Leicester Biomedical Research Centre.

Outside of science, I enjoy spending time watching sport, exercising and exploring new places.

For informal enquiries, please contact me N.J.Paine@lboro.ac.uk.

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Symptom perception of “breathlessness” and impact on healthcare access in culturally diverse populations

Anvesha Singh headshotSupervisor

  • Dr Anvesha Singh

I am an Associate Professor and an Honorary Consultant in Cardiology at the department of Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Leicester. I qualified in Medicine from Cardiff University (2005), complete a PhD in Leicester (2016), continued as an NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer (2017-2019) before being appointed in my current post and obtaining an NIHR Advanced Fellowship in 2021.

I specialise in cardiac imaging, including echocardiography and MRI. I am a member of the multi-disciplinary, dynamic and successful Cardiac Imaging Research Group. My main area of research interest is Aortic Stenosis, the commonest valve disease requiring intervention in developed countries, with a rising incidence as the population continues to age. My work focuses on trying to better understand the pathophysiology of symptom onset and adverse cardiac remodelling in aortic stenosis and improve risk stratification, as well as using mixed methods to understand the presentation and treatment preferences of patients with this condition, with the ultimate aim of improving management by identifying the best timing of treatment.

I am a member of the College Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and one of the departmental EDI co-leads. I am also the Deputy Director of Clinical Academic Training at the University of Leicester.

For informal enquiries, please contact me at as707@le.ac.uk.

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Drug-lifestyle interactions for weight management in South Asians and white Europeans living with overweight or obesity

Alice Thackray headshotSupervisor

  • Dr Alice Thackray

I have worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Loughborough University aligned to the lifestyle theme of the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre since completing my PhD at Loughborough University in 2014. My research interests focus on the role of lifestyle (exercise and diet) in the prevention of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease as well as the interaction between exercise, appetite regulation and energy balance and the implications for weight management. I supervise several PhD students as part of a multidisciplinary research team and I am passionate about helping others to fulfil their research potential. In my spare time, I enjoy participating in and watching sport, particularly running and football, baking, house projects and exploring new places in the countryside on foot. 

For further enquiries about this project, please feel free to contact me at A.E.Thackray@lboro.ac.uk.

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