Our research team come from a variety of clinical and academic backgrounds, bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge.

The Research Development Unit is made up of leadership, support team, delivery team and dementia team. 

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


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.

Email: michelle.horspool@shsc.nhs.uk

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.

Email: wendy.swann@shsc.nhs.uk

Telephone: 0114 271 6605

Yiwei Harland – Senior Research Facilitator

Yiwei joined the Research Development Unit 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.

Email: yiwei.harland@shsc.nhs.uk

Telephone: 0114 22 63490

Linda Mulunda – Research Facilitator

Linda joined the team in early 2022, having previously worked at the CRN Yorkshire and Humber. Linda completed her MSc in Public Health in 2016 and undergraduate in Biochemistry in 2010. She has previous experience of working in patient-facing roles in care homes in dementia, in home care and as a support worker.

Email: linda.mulunda@shsc.nhs.uk

Telephone: 0114 271 6232

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.

Email: ellie.wildbore@shsc.nhs.uk

Telephone: 0114 271 1379

Research delivery team

Alix Smith - Research Delivery Manager

Alix has been working in mental health research delivery since 2010 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 Research Training Facilitator for the National Institute of Health Research and delivers courses in Good Clinical Practice (GCP), Informed Consent and Principal Investigator Essentials.

Email: alix.smith@shsc.nhs.uk

Telephone: 0114 22 62748

Charlotte Colbeck - 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.

Email: charlotte.colbeck@nihr.ac.uk

Telephone: 0114 22 63680

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.

Email: elissa.thompson@shsc.nhs.uk 

Telephone: 0114 30 50688

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. 

Email: hannah.gower@shsc.nhs.uk

Telephone: 0114 27 16315

Abby Connelly  - Research Nurse

Abby has been a mental health nurse since 2013 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. 

Email: abby.connelly@shsc.nhs.uk

Telephone: 0114 27 11038

Catherine Kerr - Allied Health Professional (AHP) Research Lead

Catherine is an Occupational Therapist who has worked for SHSC for over 25 years and has experience in adult mental health inpatient and community settings. Alongside Catherine's research role she continues to work with older adults in Sheffield Memory Service, working with people with dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment.

Catherine has a strong interest in engaging service users, their supporters and staff into research.

Email: catherine.kerr@shsc.nhs.uk

Telephone: 0114 22 63763

Sam Dawson - Clinical Research Assistant

Sam is an Occupational Therapist with more than 10 years' experience, the majority of which have been in mental health inpatient rehabilitation settings. Sam currently spends two days each week working 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   

Email: sam.dawson@shsc.nhs.uk

Telephone: 0114 22 61685

Rose Bidewell - Research Nurse

Rose is a Mental Health Nurse with over 7 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. 

Email: rose.bidewell@shsc.nhs.uk

Telephone: 0114 27 11336

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 now splits her time between SAANS and research. 

Email: jade.cupac@shsc.nhs.uk

Mishell Cunningham – Primary Care Research Manager

Mishell qualified as a Registered General Nurse in 1988 and worked on a variety of wards at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust until 1999 when she started her first research nurse post.

Since then, Mishell has supported the set-up and delivery of commercial and academic research in both primary and secondary care.  Mishell has held posts with the South Yorkshire Comprehensive Local Research Network as a senior diabetes research sister, Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust as lead nurse R&D and most recently research nurse at Primary Care Sheffield. 

She has acted as principal investigator on several studies and delivered Good Clinical Practice training as an NIHR GCP Facilitator.  

In her current post, Mishell supports the delivery of research across primary care across Sheffield.

Dementia research team - commercial clinical trials

Dr Janet Hutchison - Principal Investigator

Janet is a Specialty Doctor in old age psychiatry. She has been involved in commercial dementia since clinical trials since 2005.

Email: janet.hutchison@shsc.nhs.uk

Telephone: 0114 271 8321

Amanda Bennett – 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.

As the dementia study co-ordinator, senior research nurse and primary rater she is responsible for the management and co-ordination of the dementia clinical research team. She also reviews new studies and completes feasibility and resource assessments and manages dementia study delivery.

Email: amanda.bennett@shsc.nhs.uk

Telephone: 0114 271 8320

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. 

Jonathon has worked in the Clinical Trials Team since 2019 working on anti-Alzheimer's medications. He supports the wider research team with NIHR portfolio-adopted studies and has helped deliver the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine trial for COVID-19 with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.

Email: Jo.Buckley@shsc.nhs.uk

Telephone: 0114 27 18446

Dr Kate Newton - Associate Specialist

Kate is an Associate Specialist with over 23 years' of working in old age psychiatry. Her time is currently split between working in the Sheffield Memory Service and Dementia Clinical Trials team.

In her research role, Kate has been involved in commercial randomised controlled trials as sub-investigator and in non-commercial trials as both principal investigator and sub-investigator.

Email: katherine.newton@shsc.nhs.uk

Telephone: 0114 22 64236

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