Meet the research team

Our research team come from a variety of clinical and academic backgrounds, bringing a wealth of experience in their field of speciality.

The Research Development Unit is broken down in to our leadership team, research support team, research delivery team and dementia research team. 

You can find out a bit more about the team and the work they do by taking a look at their biographies below.

Leadership team

Dr. Michelle Horspool – Deputy Director – Research

Michelle is a Mental Health Nurse by background, specialising in substance misuse. She completed her PhD in 2008 and has over 10 years of experience working within NHS and academic research environments. Throughout this period she has been involved in the development and management of clinical trials and complex interventional studies across both primary care and mental health. Michelle maintains an active academic CV and is an Honorary Researcher at the University of Sheffield's Mental Health Research Unit. 

Michelle manages and is responsible for the research office and delivery teams within the Research Development Unit. She leads on performance, research capacity building, grant development and the development of strategic partnerships for research collaborations.


Telephone: 07814 867370

Research support team

Wendy Swann – Research Manager

Wendy has worked in clinical research since 2002 and has previous experience across a number of specialities including older adults and paediatrics. She has up-to-date knowledge of research regulations and legislation, and has experience of the quality management aspects of clinical research. This includes ensuring standard operating procedures are maintained and followed, organising routine MHRA GCP inspections and implementing quality improvement and microsystems approaches to quality improvement.

Wendy oversees the running of the research office and is also lead for commercial clinical trials and grant application finances. She is also involved with research champions and service user involvement. Wendy holds a diploma in clinical research.


Telephone: 0114 2716605

Yiwei Harland – Research Facilitator

Yiwei joined the Research Development Unit back in 2006. She plays a key role in the day-to-day running of the team, as well as implementing local processes for portfolio, commercial and non-portfolio projects.

Yiwei is responsible for assessing, arranging, confirming capacity and capability, processing research passports, maintaining, amending and closing research projects at the Trust, as well as at NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group. She also provides support with our quality system improvement, as well as maintaining and administering the EDGE research management software.


Telephone: 0114 226 3490

Alison Stubbs – Research Administrator

Alison has worked at the Trust for more than 18 years in a variety of roles, including our specialist dementia service and in our community mental health teams, before moving into the Research Development Unit.

She is responsible for organising the team and ensuring the office runs smoothly – she is the first point of call for anyone contacting for the department. Alison is also our EDGE administrator and is responsible for ensuring the accurate monitoring of information.


Telephone: 0114 2711240

Dr Jane McKeown – Senior Nurse Research Lead / Lecturer

Jane works in a joint role between the Trust and the University of Sheffield's School of Nursing and Midwifery. She completed her PHD in 2012 and has a specialist interest in methods and approaches that enable people living with dementia to share their views and experiences. 

Jane joined the RDU in April 2019 when she was appointed as one of 70 nurses in England on the National Institute for Health Research Senior Nurse Research Leader Programme. This three year role aims to develop research capacity and capability amongst nurses within the Trust, as well as working closely with the Chief Nurse to ensure that research informs the quality and safety of care for service users. Jane serves on an NHS Research Ethics Committee and she is the Chair of a Dementia Patient and Public Research Involvement Group at the University of Sheffield.


Telephone: 0114  2263950

Ellie Wildbore – Patient Research Ambassador

Ellie works between the Medical Education and Research teams using her lived experience in mental health to aid her role as Patient Research Ambassador. She is a qualified primary school teacher but has also worked and volunteered in mental health organisations in support roles, as an occupational therapy assistant and in teaching and training. She currently teaches on the clinical psychology course at the University of Hull, works for the Royal College of Psychiatrists as a peer reviewer for therapeutic communities and is involved with training staff both within SHSC and further afield – such as police, railway staff and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals staff. She also runs workshops and speaks at conferences about her experiences.

In the research team Ellie is concentrating on the involvement of service users in research, improving access to research opportunities for service users and promoting the importance and benefits of clinical research. This means encouraging more people to take part in research as participants and volunteers in studies and as collaborators on studies. In Medical Education she is part of the team that focuses on undergraduate teaching of medical students and physician associate students.


Research delivery team

Alix Smith - Research Delivery Manager

Alix has been working in mental health research delivery for over nine years within the NHS and within academic research environments. She comes from a youth justice background and has previous experience of working in clinical roles in multi-systemic therapy, youth offending services, Youth and Crown Court and the prison service. Alix has an MSc in Forensic Psychology, an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Sociology and holds a professional certificate in Effective Practice for Youth Justice.

Alix manages the research delivery team and oversees the running of mental health research projects across the Trust. She is responsible for assessing the pragmatic feasibility of supporting new studies within the Trust. Alix is also a Good Clinical Practice Training Facilitator for the National Institute of Health Research.


Telephone: 0114 2262748

Alex Carey – Clinical Studies Officer

Alex studied psychology at university and since graduating has worked in both clinical and research roles. He has over 5 years of research delivery experience within SHSC, although he had spent time working on university based research projects before this. Alex's clinical background covers both community and inpatient settings and working with people of all ages experiencing a wide range or physical and mental health problems. Alex is particularly interested in the role trauma plays in the development of psychosis and other 'complex' mental health problems as well as how care can be informed by peoples unique experiences.

As a Clinical Studies Officer, Alex recruits participants to research studies and supports them in completing assessments and questionnaires. He also liaises with clinical teams to ensure clinical studies are viable, and troubleshoots any problems that may arise for participants, clinicians or study teams regarding the studies he works on. Alex's research interests include psychosis, the link between physical and mental wellbeing and the need for truly co-produced research.


Telephone: 0114 271 8070

Charlotte Colbeck - Mental Health Research Nurse

Charlotte is a Registered Mental Health Nurse, with a background working within acute inpatient services at the Trust. Whilst working on Maple Ward, she completed an MSc in Health Related Clinical Research at the University of Sheffield.

Within her role she supports service users with a range of different mental health needs to participate in research studies which are relevant to them. Charlotte is particularly interested in research which tests out psycho-social interventions for service users with memory problems and psychosis.


Telephone: 0114 2263680

Elissa Thompson - Research Nurse

Elissa is a mental health nurse by background with seven years experience in various inpatient and community settings. She recently completed a MSc in Psychological Research Methods at the University of Sheffield and now works part-time in the Recovery Service as a nurse and part-time in the research delivery team. She is particularly interested in the onset and treatment of people who have experienced complex trauma and the development of more effective evidence based frontline services in this area.

Currently Elissa is working on studies covering topics such as developing interventions for people hearing voices, pharmaceutical treatments for bipolar disorder and evaluation of crisis services including the UK-wide Decisions Units.


Telephone: 0114 305 0688

Hannah Gower – Research Nurse

Hannah is a mental health research nurse who specialises in dementia studies. She works on both pharmaceutical commercial trials and observational studies. She has a BSc in Psychology and has worked as a qualified mental health nurse since 2005. She has worked in a variety of settings including adult acute mental health care and dementia services.

Her role in research involves study co-ordinating, working as a rater on commercial trials and carrying out clinical procedures. More recently she has been involved in clinical trials for Alzheimer's disease. 


Telephone: 0114 271 6315

Abby Connelly  - Research Nurse

Abby has been a mental health nurse for seven years working in both inpatient and community settings, most recently in Early Intervention in Psychosis. She has a MSc in Psychology and a MA in Social Research and is now completing a PhD exploring unusual sensory experiences among children and young people, and working part-time in the research delivery team. Her main research interests are around psychosis and the mental health of young people. She is currently working on studies covering nurse retention and research focusing on voice hearing.


Telephone: 0114 2711038

Catherine Kerr - Allied Health Professional (AHP) Research Lead

Catherine is an Occupational Therapist who has worked for SHSC for over 26 years and has experience in adult mental health inpatient and community settings. Catherine continues to work with older adults in Sheffield Memory Service, working with people with dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment, but will also be working in the Research Team two days a week as a recently appointed Allied Health Professional (AHP) Research Lead.

Catherine has previous research experience as an interventionalist in the Valuing Active Life in Dementia (VALID) pilot study and as Principal Investigator on the DESCANT study, and is currently the Principle Investigator on the Homeside Study. Catherine has a strong interest in engaging service users, their supporters and staff into research.


Telephone: 0114 2263763

Sam Dawson - Clinical Research Assistant

Sam is an Occupational Therapist with more than 10 years of experience, the majority of which have been spent in mental health inpatient rehabilitation settings. Sam has now joined RDU as a Clinical Research Assistant and will be working two days a week on the SPACES study as well as continuing to be an Occupational Therapist at Forest Close - a role that includes supporting service users to engage in meaningful activity, which will be beneficial in his research role.

Sam has a particular interest in promoting participation in physical activity for people with significant mental health conditions and currently helps run Brunsmeer Awareness, a mental health friendly football project in partnership with Sheffield Flourish and Sheffield United Community Foundation   


Telephone: 0114 2261685

Rose Bidewell - Research Nurse

Rose is a Mental Health Nurse with over seven years experience working in various mental health inpatient and community settings. Rose completed her MSc in Psychology in 2018 and since then has been working as an assistant psychologist in an intensive community rehabilitation team. Rose has now joined the RDU full time and will be working on the TACK study as well as other studies.


Telephone: 0114 2711336

Jade Cupac - Research Assistant

Jade has worked in the NHS since 2014. She spent much of her career as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner within IAPT services, working therapeutically with adults experiencing depression and anxiety difficulties. Jade has previously worked on a research project evaluating an intervention aiming to support long term self-management of depression after psychological therapy within IAPT services.

Jade has more recently been working as an Assistant Psychologist at the Sheffield Adult Autism and Neurodevelopment Service (SAANS) and will now be splitting her time between SAANS and RDU. She will be working mainly on the TACK and Spectrum 10K research projects.

Dementia research team (commercial)

Amanda Bennett – Senior Research Nurse

Qualifying as a mental health nurse in 1987, Amanda completed her first commercial pharmaceutical study in 2000. Her main areas of work have been in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia related randomised control studies of new pharmaceutical products or interventional activities.

She works as part of the small specialised clinical trials research team based at the Sheffield Memory Service. The team provides access to a range of randomised control trials for investigative products for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. As the study co-ordinator, senior research nurse and primary rater within the service she is responsible for the management and co-ordination of the clinical research team within the department. She also looks at new studies and completes feasibility assessments, ensures there are enough resources for the team and manages the study delivery.


Telephone: 0114 271 8320

Dr Janet Hutchison - Principle Investigator Clinical Trials

Janet is an ex-GP with 25 years experience. She is  our Principle Investigator for Clinical Trials, as well as Specialty Doctor in old age psychiatry. She has been involved in commercial dementia RCTs since 2005.

She is currently the principal investigator for two commercial RCTs. Mission AD (24 months tablet study in Early/Prodromal Alzheimer’s) and BAN 2401 Clarity (18 month IV infusion with anti amyloid antibody).

Jonathon Buckley - Research Nurse

Jonathon has a Post Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Nursing and has worked in dementia care since qualifying in 2012. He has worked both in inpatient care and outpatients clinics to help people living with dementia and their supporters. 

He now works in the Clinical Trials Team based in the Sheffield Memory Service working on anti-Alzheimer's medications. He recently supported the Oxford Vaccine for COVID-19 Trial with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.


Telephone: 0114 271 8446

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