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In Wessex, we support research across 30 specialty areas, including cancer, mental health, primary care and dementia. With expert clinical leaders working alongside our core team, we ensure the successful delivery of studies across Wessex.

Working with us

The NIHR delivers research through 30 specialty therapy areas. Each specialty is made up of expert clinical leaders and practitioners who work at both national and local levels to ensure that studies are delivered successfully and to promote awareness of research opportunities amongst patients, service users and the public.

You can visit the specialties page on the main NIHR website to find out what's happening nationally across our different specialty groups. 

Contacting our specialty teams 

In Wessex, dedicated teams support the delivery of research in each specialty area. You can get in touch with our teams using the contact details below.


Divisional and specialty lead- Dr Matthew Wheater 
Research Delivery Manager- Jocelyn Walters
Assistant Portfolio Manager- Amanda Pattie                                     

Team inbox-         

Cardiovascular, diabetes, metabolic and endocrine, renal and stroke

Divisional Clinical Lead- Dr Damian Jenkinson 
Research Delivery Manager- Rebecca Croucher 
Assistant Portfolio Manager- Sophie Varkonyi-Clifford                         

Team inbox-

Genetics, haematology, children, reproductive health and childbirth

Divisional Clinical Lead- Dr Katrina Cathie  
Research Delivery Manager- Tom Simpson 
Assistant Portfolio Manager- Amanda Pattie                                     

Team inbox-                   

Neurology, dementia and mental health

Divisional Clinical Lead- Dr Chris Kipps  
Research Delivery Manager- Rebecca Croucher 
Assistant Portfolio Manager- Sophie Varkonyi-Clifford                        

Team inbox-

Age & ageing, dentistry, dermatology, health services research, musculoskeletal disorders, public health and primary care

Divisional Clinical Lead- Professor Nick Francis
Research Delivery Manager- Martine Cross
Assistant Portfolio Managers- Jakub Wyszynski and Gemma Rood

Team inbox-

Anaestheisa, peri-operative medicine and pain management, critical care, ear, nose and throat (ENT), gastroenterology, hepatology, infection, trauma and emergency care, ophthalmology, respiratory and surgery 

Divisional Clinical Lead- Dr David Pogson
Research Delivery Manager- Clare Rook 
Assistant Portfolio Manager- Jazz Bartholomew

Team inbox- 

Social care

Specialty Lead- Professor Lee-Ann Fenge
Research Delivery Manager- Alex Jones   

Contact information- 

Cancer research in Wessex

Wessex is home to 2.7 million people, eight acute hospital trusts, two cancer centres, an experimental cancer medicine centre and the UK’s first cancer centre for immunotherapy. We develop and deliver world class cancer clinical trials and are passionate about offering innovative treatments to as many patients as possible.

Key achievements

  • Wessex is consistently one of the top performing Clinical Research Networks (CRNS) in the country for cancer research. 
  • In the 2019/20 financial year, we delivered over 200 cancer research studies in Wessex, with almost 4,000 participants recruited.
  • Our engaged regional multidisciplinary team and our vast research portfolio across a range of cancer sub-specialties provide many opportunities for patients to participate in research. 
  • Our web-based platform, CancerLine, increases accessibility to research opportunities for both clinical teams and patients. 

Local infrastructure

Wessex is home to:

Digital infrastructure

CancerLine is a web-based platform used to enable patient access to research opportunities. It is primarily aimed at clinical teams across Wessex, allowing them to view the real time cancer trial portfolio across all Wessex acute trusts. The site aims to enhance Network working, further engender the clinical research culture and improve patient access and recruitment to trials. 

The website is accessible to the public, informing patients and their carers of available opportunities – again a driver of increased clinical trial recruitment and engagement. This platform has many filters to help users find the appropriate study for them. The 16-24 age filter has recently been introduced to maximise opportunities for the younger population.

Case studies 

Paediatric oncology immunotherapy studies

Our ground-breaking immunotherapy trials are giving new hope to babies and children living with neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer. Dr Juliet Gray, Associate Professor in Paediatric Oncology at the University of Southampton, is leading new UK immunotherapy studies which are looking at improving neuroblastoma treatments and their effectiveness. Find out more about Dr Gray's work

Hampshire resident living with rare cancer promotes health research

After living with a rare cancer for 17 years, Pete Verey, a Hampshire resident, is promoting the importance of health research as a way of developing new treatments and technologies. Read Pete's story. 

Poole resident takes part in UK led international breast cancer study

Susan Williams, a resident from Poole, is taking part in an international research study called POSNOC, after being diagnosed with breast cancer. The study is looking at whether it is necessary for breast cancer patients to have an extra surgery to the armpit if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. Read Susan's story.

Contact the team

To find out more about cancer research in Wessex, please get in touch with the team on

Divisional Clinical Lead- Dr Matthew Wheater
Research Delivery Manager- Jocelyn Walters
Acting Industry Operations Manager- Tom Simpson
Assistant Portfolio Managers- Amanda Pattie and Katherine Shawley

Respiratory research in Wessex

Key achievements

  • We have a strong collaborative approach to respiratory research, working with both primary and secondary care sites.
  • In the 2019/20 financial year, 51 respiratory research studies were adopted onto the NIHR portfolio. Wessex was the top recruiting Clinical Research Network in the country for respiratory research, with almost 5,000 patients recruited to studies.
  • In 2014, the Wessex region was awarded funding to deliver a five year programme aimed at improving respiratory outcomes for local patients. 

Local infrastructure

Wessex is home to:

Case studies

MISSION ABC at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust 

The research team at Portsmouth University Hospitals NHS Trust (PHU) have been leading the delivery of a series of research projects aimed at improving the care pathway for patients living with respiratory conditions. Through a successful partnership with The Health Foundation and the Wessex Academic Health Science Network, PHU have tested and evaluated MISSION – a novel clinic model which delivers high-quality integrated care for patients.

This model is replicable by other specialist teams in partnership with their local community partners and a toolkit has been developed to allow outside research teams to deliver their own MISSION clinic. Find out more about this research project or access the toolkit.

Hear from our respiratory research specialty lead, Dr Hitasha Rupani:

"Respiratory conditions affect at least one in five people and are among the third most commonly reported illnesses in the UK. They can be difficult to treat and have a huge impact of peoples’ quality of life.

"Researchers in Wessex lead on and participate in research programmes in obstructive airways diseases, Interstitial lung diseases, infective lung diseases, pleural diseases and pandemics (COVID-19).

"Respiratory research in Wessex encompasses exploring novel technologies to diagnose and treat lung diseases, genetics, molecular pathophysiology, translational research and clinical trials.

"Our research leads have excellent track records of recruiting into both commercial and non-commercial studies and working with funding bodies and collaborations, both national and international.

"We have supported the delivery of the world's largest digital physiological technology study ever undertaken, called VISION-D, which recruited 8,585 people to support the development of a camera-based technology to remotely measure patient observations."

Contact the team

To find out more about our work, please get in touch with a member of the team on

Clinical Research Specialty Lead- Dr Hitasha Rupani
Divisional Clinical Lead- Dr David Pogson
Research Delivery Manager- Clare Rook
Acting Industry Operations Manager- Tom Simpson
Assistant Portfolio Managers- Jazz Bartholomew and Katherine Shawley

Hepatology research in Wessex

Wessex hosts two of the top performing research centres for commercial and non-commercial hepatology research, University Hospital Southampton (UHS) and Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust (PHU).

Across the region,  local infrastructure and strong collaboration across research teams enables the effective delivery of both early and late phase studies.  Over the last five years, local teams have consistently delivered commercial research projects to time and target.

Key achievements

  • In the 2019/20 financial year, Wessex participated in 26 hepatology research studies and recruited almost 300 participants.
  • 75% of NIHR commercial portfolio studies recruited to time and target (2015-2019).

Local infrastructure

  • MRI for non-invasive diagnosis of fibrosis and Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) within University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS). 
  • Specialist hepatocellular carcinoma oncology and radiology offered at UHS
  • A dedicated clinical research facility with Phase I clinical trials capability based at UHS
  • UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) Registered Clinical Trials Unit, based in Southampton, delivering a portfolio trials that are internationally and nationally outstanding in the priority areas of cancer, primary care, supportive care, nutrition, respiratory, critical care and liver disease.
  • Biomedical Imaging Unit at Southampton General Hospital providing research and diagnostic services in high quality and high resolution light and electron microscopy. This equipment includes state-of-the-art transmission and scanning electron microscopes, laser scanning confocal microscopes, a virtual slide scanning system, live cell imaging facilities, 2D and 3D analysis and rendering workstations and general photo microscopes.

Case studies

Hepatitis C on Isle of Wight

In 2014, patients on the Isle of Wight with a diagnosis of Hepatitis C (HCV) could only be treated on the mainland. The geographical isolation of the Island had meant that many patients were unable to attend appointments or complete treatment.

At the time, this represented a service inequality compared to patients on the mainland. Additionally, the Isle of Wight was considered to be an ideal location to test the potential feasibility of achieving the micro-elimination of HCV through treatment.

Accordingly, an innovative Island based testing and treatment model was developed using community pharmacies and local hospital services, which was assessed with a service and cost-effectiveness evaluation. Alongside this, a network-based modelling study took advantage of the unique geographical characteristics of the Isle of Wight to test the most efficient approach to achieving elimination.

The project was funded by two research grants from Gilead LTD totalling over £50,000 and a PhD fellowship from NIHR. Twenty community pharmacies participated in the programme and HCV treatment was relocated to St Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight and the local drug and alcohol support service.

The project led to the increased identification of Hepatitis C infections and increased engagement with treatment services by infected individuals. The project led directly to four peer-reviewed publications.

One published in 2019 was the first to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of community pharmacy based testing for Hepatitis C. Another, published in 2020, is the first study to demonstrate and quantify how targeted treatment at certain individuals prevents onward transmission of the virus.

Six years after the study started the treatment service on the Isle of Wight continues and to date over fifty people have been treated locally. The project funded the purchase of equipment called a Fibroscanner™. This remains in use at St Mary’s hospital and has been transformative at improving access to Hepatitis C treatment and for identifying undiagnosed liver cirrhosis due to other causes.

The Isle of Wight Hepatitis C project has demonstrated that research conducted in a small, isolated area of the Wessex region can have a sustainable far-reaching academic and clinical impact.

Contact the team

To find out more about our work, please get in touch with a member of the team on

Specialty Lead- Dr Richard Aspinall
Divisional Clinical Lead- Dr David Pogson
Research Delivery Manager- Clare Rook
Industry Operations Manager - Tom Simpson
Assistant Portfolio Managers- Jazz Bartholomew and Bella Warr

Reproductive health, childbirth and paediatrics research in Wessex


Wessex is home to 2.7 million people and eight acute hospital trusts. We develop and deliver world class clinical trials and are passionate about offering innovative treatments and procedures to as many patients as possible. 

Key achievements

  • Wessex is consistently one of the top performing Clinical Research Networks in the country for paediatric research.
  • In the 2019/20, we delivered over 150 paediatric, reproductive Health and childbirth research studies in Wessex, with just over 9,300 participants recruited.
  • An increase in locally-led reproductive health and childbirth research improving care for mothers and babies in the region.
  • One of our biggest successes is having an engaged regional multidisciplinary team across both specialties as well as having vast research portfolios providing many opportunities for patients.

Local infrastructure

Digital infrastructure

Healthier Together - a web-based platform that provides useful clinical resources and advice for children, parents and pregnant women. Information about participation in research and available studies is also listed. We anticipate this will improve patient awareness, access and recruitment. 

Case studies

Reproductive health and childbirth

CRN Wessex were the top recruiter for The Cessation in Pregnancy Incentives Trial, which explored ways to help women quit smoking during pregnancy.

University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust contributes to international research improving the experience of fathers in neonatal units, which champions better communication and engagement to help fathers bond with their babies.


Infectious disease specialists in Southampton are working with young people across Hampshire to potentially shape the future of routine teenage meningitis vaccinations in the UK.

Professor Saul Faust, Director of CRN Wessex and the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility, and his team are travelling to colleges around the county to vaccinate sixth-form students aged 16 to 19. Each student will be immunised against meningitis B, the most common cause of meningococcal disease in the age group, with one of two licensed vaccines. Find out more about the Be on the team research project

The paediatric post pneumococcal conjugate vaccine study is one of Solent NHS Trust’s highest recruiting studies, with almost 500 participants taking part in 2019/20.

Contact us

To find out more about our work, please get in touch with a member of the team on

● Divisional Clinical Lead- Dr Katrina Cathie
● Research Delivery Manager- Jocelyn Walters
● Industry Operations Manager- Tom Simpson
● Assistant Portfolio Managers- Amanda Pattie and Bella Warr

Social care research in Wessex

Social care research in Wessex covers projects taking place with non-acute and community settings and groups including:

  • Long term residential facilities e.g care homes and hospices
  • Local authority, private providers and unpaid carers
  • Children and adult services
  • Charity organisations


Our ENRICH network brings together care home staff, residents and their families with researchers. It provides a toolkit of resources to help care homes make the most of research and researchers to set up and run studies effectively and collaboratively in care homes. Find your local ENRICH contact

Public health and other settings

CRN Wessex is committed to supporting researchers working in local communities and has delivered successfully in various sites in the region. Examples of previous social care research projects include: 

Engaging Adolescents in Changing Behaviour (EACh-B)

The Engaging Adolescents in Changing Behaviour (EACh-B) intervention is an extension of the LifeLab initiative that has been running since 2007. School students get to spend one day of their academic year working in a purpose-built lab, exploring how their lifestyle impacts them and how they can make changes for the better. EACh-B is funded by the NIHR and sponsored by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. Find out more about the project by watching our EACh-B video.

Investing in prevention 

Professor Julie Parkes, CRN Wessex public health specialty lead, is chief investigator of a randomised control trial examining the effectiveness of an out-of-court community-based Gateway intervention programme aimed at improving health and wellbeing for youth offenders. The trial is funded by the NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre and sponsored by the University of Southampton.

Key contacts

We have a team dedicated to supporting the development and delivery of social care research in Wessex and were the first LCRN to appoint a specialty lead and delivery manager to support this growing area. 

  • Social care specialty lead - Professor Lee-Ann Fenge
  • Public health specialty lead - Professor Julie Parkes
  • Local authority embedded researcher (Southampton City Council) - Ciara McGee

For all queries please contact research delivery manager and ENRICH lead Alex Jones on