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Leadership chosen for new south-east research organisation

An image showing the leadership team of the new South East RDN, on a coral background.

A leading research body for the south-east of England has appointed its leadership team, a key step on the road to giving more patients across the region access to groundbreaking research.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research South East Regional Research Delivery Network (RRDN), which will be hosted by Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust, will launch in October 2024.

It will support the region’s world-class research system to deliver high quality research that enables the best care for its population.

Now its leadership has been chosen.

Dr Jo Zamani will be Operations Director, and Julia Simister has been appointed as Strategic Development Director for the South East RRDN.

As the Operations Director, Jo will be the senior officer responsible for the operational services of the South East RRDN. These services are delivered for the RRDN, partner organisations and research funders and Sponsors.

As the Strategic Development Director, Julia will be the senior officer responsible for the development, delivery and implementation of South East RRDN strategic plans to build research capacity and capability at organisational and regional level.

Both Jo and Julia will start in their new roles on 1 July 2024 and they will support Dr Stephen Barnett, whose appointment as Director, South East RRDN, was announced earlier this year.

Building on the success of the NIHR’s existing Clinical Research Network Kent, Surrey and Sussex, the RRDN will work across the health and care system, with staff in all health and care settings, and distribute funding to support the effective and efficient initiation and delivery of research.

Dr Stephen Barnett, Director, South East RRDN, said: “It is a real boost for the organisation that two people of the calibre of Jo and Julia will be taking up senior leadership positions with the RRDN.

“I look forward to working with them as we seek to enable more people to get involved in research in our region, helping to bring better treatments to our population more quickly.”

Louise Stead, Chief Executive at Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust, said: “In November we announced that we will host the new South East Regional Research Delivery Network - an exciting development that will enhance our already strong relationship with the National Institute for Health and Care Research.

“I am delighted to welcome these colleagues into these new leadership roles at the RRDN and to continue the warm and productive working relationships we have already established through their close working with the Royal Surrey.

“I know that by coordinating our efforts to produce and deliver high-quality research, we can achieve the best care for our patients and the public and I am excited to continue this partnership into the future.”

The new organisation will be funded by the Department of Health and Social Care.