Leicestershire Healthcare Inequalities Improvement Doctoral Training Programme

Projects and supervisors 2024

The effect of lifestyle activity and pulmonary rehabilitation on chronic systemic inflammation in individuals with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease (COPD) of different ethnicities

Molly Baldwin headshotSupervisor

  • Dr Molly Baldwin

I completed my PhD in Exercise Physiology at the University of Leeds in 2021, which focussed on understanding the mechanisms of exercise tolerance and developing effective prevention and rehabilitation strategies to improve exercise tolerance in health and disease.

I then joined NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) to start my post-doctoral research. In July 2023, I progressed to my current role in the BRC as a Senior Exercise Physiologist, based in the Centre for Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences at Glenfield Hospital, and work closely with colleagues at the University of Leicester and Loughborough University. As part of my role, I am a co-investigator for several studies investigating the effect of novel treatment pathways on disease symptoms and exercise tolerance in individuals with respiratory diseases.

I am extremely grateful for all of the guidance and support that I received as a PhD student, and I am motivated to provide others with a similar experience.

If you have any questions or would like to find out more about the project, please email: molly.baldwin@uhl-tr.nhs.uk.

Learn more about the project (docx., 30kb)

Influence of socioeconomic status, obesity and physical activity on seasonal influenza severity and flu vaccine antibody responses

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.

Learn more about the project (docx., 31kb)

Enhancing representation of Black ethnic minority groups in Public and Patient Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) biomedical and healthcare research: Strategies for overcoming inclusion barriers and establishing trustful partnerships.

Natalie Darko headshotSupervisor

  • Dr Natalie Darko

I am an Associate Professor at the University of Leicester and the Director of Inclusion for the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre. In my research role, I am deeply committed to Public and Patient Involvement and Engagement (PPIE), focusing particularly on promoting equality, equity, and inclusion for underrepresented groups in health research.

I am currently leading a range of research projects in the field of health inequalities. My work covers a broad spectrum, including maternal health, cancer, social prescribing, diabetes, faith-based interventions, and dementia. I am dedicated to mentoring researchers and facilitating collaborative efforts with underserved groups to ensure equitable health and research practices. I am also involved in developing strategies to overcome inclusion barriers and in establishing trustful partnerships.

I am passionate about supporting new researchers, helping them to realize their full research potential and to contribute significantly to inclusive research practices.

Outside of my professional commitments, I enjoy running and yoga, often teaching yoga when my schedule permits. I am equally devoted to spending quality time with my family, particularly enjoying sports activities with my three children.

This PhD project will be supervised by myself, alongside Professors Gerry McCann and Louise Goff, bringing together a wealth of expertise and experience in the field.

For any enquiries regarding this project, please feel free to contact me at dd253@leicester.ac.uk.

Learn more about the project (docx., 31kb)

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).

Learn more about the project (docx., 28kb)

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. 

Learn more about the project (docx., 30kb)

Characterizing phenotypic biomarkers of physical frailty, sarcopenia and intrinsic capacity as predictors of outcomes in chronic respiratory disease

Hamish McAuley headshotSupervisor

  • Dr Hamish McAuley

I am a respiratory physician with both a research and clinical interest in COPD and chronic respiratory disease. I completed my PhD in 2023 examining sarcopenia and frailty among individuals with COPD and COVID-19 and have now been awarded an NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer post to continue developing this work.

My interest in chronic respiratory disease stems from my clinical experience highlighting the inadequacy of treatments for this cohort and belief that most current therapies fail to target or consider the wider implications of long-term illness in particular the loss of physical function and skeletal muscle.

In my current role I am developing multiple projects in this area to better understand the mechanisms and physiology of acute physical function and muscle loss and then use this knowledge to improve the targeted delivery of potential therapies in this area as well as develop novel therapies.

Learn more about the project (docx., 29kb)

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

Dr Emma O’Donnell is a Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology with a specialist focus on cardiovascular physiology and pathophysiology. Her 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 Emma’s 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 Emma’s research. The effects of estrogen therapy on cardiovascular health in postmenopausal women is also included in her research.

Due to the multifaceted aspect of Emma’s work, she is able to disseminate her 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, Emma’s 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.

Learn more about the project (docx., 22kb)

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. 

Learn more about the project (docx., 22kb)

Ethnic disparities in Type 2 Diabetes: Investigating the impact of different pharmacotherapeutic agents on glycaemic control among Black population

Sam Seidu headshotSupervisor

  • Professor Sam Seidu

Professor Sam Seidu is a clinical academic in Primary Care Diabetes and Cardio-metabolic Medicine. Currently, he serves as the Vice-Chair for Research at Primary Care Diabetes Europe (PCDE), where he actively contributes to advancing research in diabetes care. He also plays a role as a board member of the Primary Care Diabetes Society of the UK, where he contributes to shaping diabetes care strategies.

In his capacity as a Clinical Lead and mentor for diabetes in the Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland Integrated Care System, Professor Seidu is actively involved in guiding healthcare professionals and influencing diabetes care practices. His exceptional dedication and research contributions were recognized in 2021 when he received an award for outstanding early career research from the Royal College of General Practitioners.

As an Associate Editor of the Primary Care Diabetes Journal, he plays a part in disseminating research findings and contributing to discussions in the realm of diabetes care and management.

Professor Seidu's research interests encompass medication safety in diabetes, cardiometabolic diseases in the elderly population, therapeutic inertia in diabetes, prevention of cardiometabolic diseases, ethnic minority health and health inequalities in diabetes care, real-world evidence, and quality improvement in diabetes care within primary care settings.

Learn more about the project (docx., 30kb)

The impact of personalised weight loss interventions in AF patients with obesity

David Stensel headshotSupervisor

  • Professor David Stensel

I have been working in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University for over 24 years (since 1999) and I have supervised 24 PhD students to completion.

Prior to taking up my position at Loughborough University I worked for six-years at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (1993 to 1999). My PhD (completed in 1993) was sponsored by the British Heart Foundation and examined the effects of exercise on lipid and lipoprotein metabolism. I continue to conduct research on physical activity and cardiovascular disease risk and more recently I have developed an interest/expertise in the effects of exercise on appetite regulation.

My research discipline is exercise physiology/ metabolism. I co-lead the Lifestyle Theme of the NIHR funded Leicester Biomedical Research Centre and I am joint Editor-in-Chief for the International Journal of Obesity. These roles relate well to this exciting project on weight loss, atrial fibrillation and obesity. The project benefits from a multidisciplinary team across Loughborough and Leicester. Other supervisors are Dr Nicola Paine (Loughborough University) who has expertise in health psychology, Professor André Ng (University of Leicester) who has expertise in cardiac electrophysiology and Professor Amanda Daley (Loughborough University) who has expertise in behavioural medicine.

I am very happy to discuss details of the project with interested candidates. Please contact me via email in the first instance at D.J.Stensel@lboro.ac.uk.

Learn more about the project (docx., 34kb)

Back to top