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Research with Lifelong Impact - Reducing Health Inequalities in the North East and North Cumbria - Speakers



This list is alphabetised by surname.

Samantha Allen

Samantha has moved to the North East and North Cumbria to take up a new role as Chief Executive of the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board. Samantha joined from the South East where she was Chief Executive of a NHS Mental Health and Learning Disability Trust for the last five years. Prior to this Samantha has worked in a range of operational management and leadership roles across healthcare. She is also Chair of the Health and Care Women Leaders Network at the NHS Confederation, a member of The Kings Fund General Advisory Council and a member of the Chartered Management Institute Board of Companions.

Dr Alan Bagnall

Dr Alan Bagnall is the Deputy Clinical Director of NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria and a consultant interventional cardiologist at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne. Dr Bagnall trained in Leeds before moving to Edinburgh as a Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Fellow.

He completed his PhD in molecular and vascular biology and was appointed as clinical lecturer in Cardiology. After training in interventional cardiology in Toronto he moved to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle where he has been actively involved in cardiovascular research over the last 13 years, both as a Principal and Chief Investigator.

Dr Laura Basterfield

Laura is a Research Associate in the Population Health Sciences Institute with a background in measuring physical activity and body composition in children. Her current work focuses on the associations between physical fitness, BMI and mental wellbeing in children to find ways that all three can be improved to benefit children’s health.

Morag Burton

Morag Burton is currently Chief Operating Officer of NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria, she has worked for the network since its inception in 2014 in a variety of different roles. She is also currently seconded, on a part-time basis, to NIHR Coordinating Centre as CRN Primary Care Strategy Business Lead.

Morag studied Psychology at University of Birmingham, graduating in 1998. She then went on to practice as a Psychologist in the prison system and in community mental health in dual disorders, before studying a masters in Research and Experimental Science in 2006. She moved away from her clinical work to undertake research at Bristol University in Primary Care into Depression and post-natal depression before moving into Research roles in a number of NHS Foundation Trusts.

Morag is passionate about health and care research and how primary care can be involved to maximum effect in ensuring that research is available to all.

Dr Dorothy Coe

Dorothy is a project manager with the North East and North Cumbria Clinical Research Network. She has worked in, or with the NHS since she was 18 years old as a nurse, lecturer and researcher. Her role is focused on the design, implementation and reporting of research for the NENC CRN. This includes working on the NIHR Under-served Communities Programme, Site Readiness to Support Research Strand. Outputs for this strand have included an updated literature review on the under-served/underrepresented in research and the production and analysis of a survey questionnaire exploring views across the NIHR on the under-served in research. 

Professor Greta Defeyter

Greta Defeyter is Professor of Developmental Psychology at Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK. Greta is the founder and the Director of the ‘Healthy Living’ Lab at Northumbria University and has spent the last 20 years researching food insecurity, social injustice, school feeding programmes and holiday hunger programmes in the UK. She has received funding from multiple sources and has published numerous papers on school breakfast clubs, school food programmes and holiday hunger programmes in the UK. She is now a recognised expert in this area and in 2015, she was made a Fellow of the British Psychological Society in recognition of
her research with children living in areas of social and economic deprivation. More recently, she joined a prestigious line up of award winners, including Jamie Oliver, by winning a Food Heroes Award from Sustain for her research on school breakfast clubs and holiday hunger programmes.

In 2020 she was recognised, by the Big Issue, as one of the top 100 change makers for her research and policy impact on childhood food poverty in the UK. Greta has advised the DfE on the Holiday Activities and Food Progamme (HAF) and is a member of the British Psychological Society Expert Reference Group-From Poverty to Flourishing, a Subject Expert on the American Psychological Association’s-Equity Flattens the Curve Campaign, a civic commissioner on the Gateshead Poverty Truth Commission, an executive member of the North East Child Poverty Commission, a trustee of Feeding Britain and a lead for the UK School Food case study for the World Food Programme.

Professor David Ekers

David Ekers is a nurse leader with over 35 years experience in mental health and is an Honorary Visiting Professor in the University of York's Department of Health Sciences. For the past 20 years he has been a senior nurse in Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust combining clinical, research and leadership roles. He is now the Clinical Director for Research and Development in the Trust and Mental Health Speciality Lead for NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria.

David is recognised internationally as an expert on Behavioural Activation for Depression. His research is highly cited both within the UK and internationally and has led the way in developing the evidence base to support dissemination of this approach. He has been involved in a number of large scale studies across the age span and is currently Chief Investigator on the NIHR funded Programme of research MultiMorbidity in Older Adults (MODS) including the Behavioural Activation in Social Isolation (BASIL) multicentre study.

Tom Hall

Tom Hall has worked in public health since 2003 and he has been the Director of Public Health for South Tyneside since May 2017. He is the Statutory Lead Officer for health and wellbeing and the South Tyneside Health & Wellbeing Board, and strategic lead for the implementation of the Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy.  Tom plays a key role in the South Tyneside Alliance system leadership approach, developing an integrated health and care system and leads A Whole Council Public Health approach. Tom is also involved in academic leadership at the regional-level with the Applied Research Collaboration and Public Health Clinical Research Network.

Dr James Lunn

James is North East born and bred. Having trained in Nottingham as a medic with an intercalated research degree, he fled to Malazi and New Zealand, returning to the North East some time later to train to be a GP. He is now a senior partner in an 18,500 patient practice, a Clinical Director to a Primary Care Network with 74,000 patients, and lead clinician to one of the best performing COVID vaccine centres. He finds himself wondering daily how he ended up accountable for over 75 staff of 14 different titles.

James has a passion for enabling change where its needed and trying new ways of working. To that end, his is one of only a handful of practices where a pharmacist is a partner. It's through this parter that he become engaged in research, first through COVID trials and then through several other studies.

He remain a 'coal face' GP, passionate about contributing to make General Practice and the North East a great place to live and work.

Chris Speed

Chris has a background in psychology and business and started his research career in 1997 for the Institute of Education, looking at the effective provision of pre-school education. He joined Newcastle University as a researcher developing psychometric scales to measure quality of life and behaviour change interventions.

He worked as part of the Newcastle Clinical Trials Unit (NCTU) until his departure to join CRN in 2014.

He has publications on the use of business models in clinical trials and was invited to present and run workshops on this topic by the USA National Institute of Health in Washington DC.

Chris is currently Deputy Chief Operating officer and oversees the expansion of research delivery into settings outside of the NHS and is involved in several national and local projects as part of the NIHR Digital Strategy.

Professor Paula Whitty

Paula is Honorary Professor of Practice at Newcastle University and Honorary Professor at Durham University; Implementation Lead for the NIHR North East and North Cumbria Applied Research Collaboration (ARC); and Director of the North East Quality Observatory Service (NEQOS), in which capacity she leads the National Collaborating Centre for Indicator Development under contract to NICE, as well as overseeing the measurement programme for the North East and North Cumbria Academic Health Sciences Network (AHSN NENC) and quality measurement services for regional Trusts. NEQOS have, for example, provided a hospital mortality monitoring service to acute Trusts in the region since 2009. Her primary research interests are in measurement methodology, outcome and process measurement, and implementation science. Her research experience in evaluation covers experimental and quasi-experimental designs, including cluster randomised controlled trials, other pragmatic trials, including those with qualitative process evaluation and/or psychological theory-based evaluations, and Interrupted Time Series studies embedded within mixed methods evaluation. Linked to her measurement expertise, Paula led the national Better Metrics programme from 2004-2007, which included both safety and effectiveness measures for major National Service Framework areas.

Professor Caroline Wroe

Professor Caroline Wroe is Clinical Director of the NIHR Clinical Research Network for North East and North Cumbria and a Consultant Nephrologist at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. In her NIHR role she leads a regional team across 30 clinical specialties, primary care, public health and social care to co-ordinate and facilitate research study delivery across the North East of England and North Cumbria. She supports the wider NIHR under-served Programme Board, leading project work to improve research accessibility for participants at site level and has experience developing UK leading living kidney donor transplant services in areas of social deprivation.