Research Design Service: East Midlands

RDS Advisers


Martin Williams - Director of NIHR RDS East Midlands
Martin has considerable expertise in grant writing, quantitative and qualitative research designs and in research management.

Sarah Armstrong - Deputy Director of NIHR RDS East Midlands
Sarah is a Professor of Medical Statistics. She is an established researcher who has contributed to the design and analysis of a wide range of research studies. She has provided advice to experienced and novice researchers on the development of applications for research funding. Sarah has a particular interest in randomised controlled trials and her current areas of research are prescribing in primary care and stroke research in care homes.


Research Advisers

Health Economics

Damilola Olajide - Senior Adviser in Health Economics
Dami has research interests in health economics and applied econometrics and in international development. He has over 13 years’ experience in academic research. Prior to joining RDS, University of Nottingham in November 2019, Dami has worked as a Research Fellow in Health Economics, University of Aberdeen, Scotland; and as a Senior Evaluation Specialist at a research organization in Nigeria. Working across a range of areas of health economics, he has undertaken microeconometric modelling and analysis of large, administratively linked real-world data sets relating to health care utilization and costs; health behaviour, inequalities and health outcomes; health care workforce and organization; and quality of disease management in primary care. Outputs from these analyses have been used to build economic evaluation models for cost-effectiveness analysis, cost-utility analysis, and budget impact analysis for a range of behaviour-related diseases (diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and certain types of cancer), and value of information analysis for efficient research design. Using various UK data, he has also undertaken research in resources allocation across NHS Scotland Health Boards; GP performance under Quality and Outcomes Framework; and potentially preventable hospitalizations in primary care as a measure of quality in health care. In international development, Dami has examined the impact of health and social care interventions, using randomized control trials in non-clinical setting, and mixed-method approach. His other activities have been teaching postgraduate courses in health care resources allocation, and thesis supervision. Dami holds a PhD in Economics from Monash University, Melbourne Australia.

Lily Yao - Professor in Health Economy
Lily's expertise lies in economic evaluations alongside large clinical trials and decision analytic models particularly in health technology assessment (HTA). She has successfully led on economic components for more than 30 large-scale studies including projects funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and those commissioned by NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence). Lily's research interests have recently expanded to economic evaluation in public health. She is currently conducting several research projects in public health including projects to address antibiotic resistance in China (funded by MRC joint with China NSFC), mental health as well as multi-morbidity. In her previous job, she was head of Health Economics Analytic Team in Academic Unit of Primary Care and Population Science in University of Southampton and part of the RDS South Central.

Industry Specialist

Roy Harris - Senior Adviser in Translational Research
He is a Protein Chemist by training with several years of industrial, academic, and NHS experience of innovative scientific research in medical technology in the healthcare sector. After 5 years at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, he became Head of Protein Chemistry at Delta Biotechnology in Nottingham in 1988, Head of Research at Andaris Ltd, 1994 and later Director of IP at Quadrant healthcare Ltd. He set up his own research company in 1999 which became Advanced protein Systems Ltd based at Biocity in Nottingham. He joined NUH NHS Trust in 2011 as Head of IP and Commercialisation with added responsibility for supporting translational research funding and management (he has successfully supported several NIHR i4i grant awards). In 2018 he took up the position of Research Business Manager working jointly with the School of Medicine at Nottingham University working RDS East Midlands to promote and further support translational research.


Information Specialist

Christine Keen - Adviser in Health Research Information
Chris is a chartered librarian and has previously worked in public libraries for many years. She moved into health information after completing an MSc in Health Information Management by distance learning whilst working full time. Christine is particularly interested in public involvement in health and her Masters dissertation looked at Community Involvement in Leicester City Health Action Zone. Christine is a member of the readers panel for INVOLVE commenting on draft publications. She welcomes external contributions for the newsletter and news page of our website.
Her roles include:

  • Identifying content for the website and the newsletter, such as sources of funding, courses and websites specialising in sources for primary care.
  • Literature searching including scoping searches and guiding individuals towards appropriate sources.
  • Critical appraisal.
  • Special projects such as the production of research bulletins using systematic review techniques.


Public Involvement

Naina Patel - Regional Public Involvement Lead 
Naina’s  early career was in community development and race equality and this entailed leading and developing voluntary organisations in Leicester and Birmingham. Naina has also worked on a diverse range of projects on a consultancy basis to develop Equality and Diversity policies for public sector organisations, as well as mental health research projects commissioned by local health sector organisations.   

Prior to her current role, she was a Research Associate at Leicester Diabetes Centre. Here, she conducted a range of qualitative research studies and led several translational research projects utilising community engagement strategies to help address ethnic health disparities in diabetes outcomes. Naina has expertise in adapting and evaluating diabetes education programmes for multi-ethnic communities and people with learning disabilities.   

In 2015, Naina was awarded a CLARHC scholarship to study for a PhD on multi-generational conceptualisations of dementia in multi-ethnic communities. 


Statisticians and other Quantitative Methodologists

Shaun Barber - Senior Adviser in Medical Statistics
Shaun is a medical statistician with a background in clinical trials. He has worked at the Leicester Clinical Trials Unit since 2016, where he has gained experience as the trial statistician for trials in a wide range of medical areas as well as giving statistical input into grant applications. Prior to his work in clinical trials, Shaun completed a PhD on the development and validation of risk tools for identifying those at high risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Gabor Borgulya - Senior Advisor in Quantitative Research Methods
The educational background of Gabor is medicine, biomedical engineering and medical statistics. He is a GMC-registered general practitioner. His most relevant experiences are (1) founding member and first head of the St Georges Clinical Trials Unit, (2) biostatistics consultant at the St Georges, in the pharmaceutical industry and as freelance, (3) senior modeller in real-life studies, (4) research and clinical work as doctor. His special interests include causal and Bayesian (structural equation) modelling, devices and artificial intelligence in medicine and certain clinical topics.

Doyo Enki - Senior Adviser in Medical Statistics
Doyo is a medical statistician with interest and experience in the design, conduct, analysis and reporting of different types of studies, including clinical trials and observational studies. Before joining University of Nottingham in Sep 2019, he worked as Research Fellow in Medical Statistics at University of Plymouth for six years where he was involved in different areas of research and teaching undergraduate and postgraduate medical students (such as study designs, clinical trials, diagnostic test accuracy studies, systematic reviews and meta-analysis). As part of his duties at the University of Plymouth, he gave statistical consultancy services to hundreds of researchers working for the NHS on their research projects. He has collaborated in a number of successful research funding applications and co-authored a number of publications. Doyo is also interested in big data. His PhD (completed in 2011) was on interpretable dimensionality reduction for data with high-dimension, where he used a number of health-related data sets for the application.

Zoe Morgan - Adviser in Medical Statistics
Zoe has a background in medical statistics and psychology with experience in clinical trials, study design, reporting and statistical analyses, some specialized to survey methods. Special interest and expertise lie in neurodevelopmental psychology and epidemiology fieldwork. Zoe is currently studying a PhD in the epidemiology of adult Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Caroline Mulvaney - Senior Adviser in Health Services Research
Caroline joined the University of Nottingham in 2002 working in the Division of Primary Care before moving to Health Sciences. She has experience in quantitative research including the analysis of surveys and large datasets, managing multi-centre RCTs and carrying out systematic reviews including several Cochrane reviews. Her research has been in both primary and secondary care, and including schools and Children's Centres. She has undertaken work for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. Her current research interests are injury prevention and public health, but she has worked on a wide range of topics including pre-school wheeze and asthma, acoustic neuromas, home fire injury risks, GP prescribing, parenting programmes, child injury prevention and cycling infrastructure. As a PI, she has successfully applied for funding from NIHR. She is a Registered General Nurse.

Chistopher Newby - Senior Adviser in Medical Statistics
Chris is a medical statistician with interest and experience in cluster randomised trials and the analysis of large cohorts. He has worked at the Pragmatic Clinical Trial Unit (PCTU) and the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research (AUK CAR) at Queen Mary, University of London for 4 years prior to working at RDS East Midlands. This was mainly working on an implementation trial using routine electronic healthcare records and a public health project looking at children lung growth in London and Luton, both funded through the NIHR. Before this he worked for 5 years at the University of Leicester Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit. He has expertise in respiratory statistics and cluster and factor analysis amongst other quantitative methods.  

Nick Taub - Senior Adviser in Medical Statistics
Nick Taub is a medical statistician, responsible for collaboration between the RDS and the Leicester Clinical Trials Unit, and is statistical expert on the Trent Research Ethics Committee. Nick has a background of collaboration on studies covering a wide range of medical specialties, with an emphasis on applications in psychiatric medicine, diabetes and related endocrine conditions, and disease registers. Nick has been a reviewer for various medical and statistical journals, including: Psychological Medicine, Applied Statistics, Diabetic Medicine, Age and Ageing, and Stroke. Nick teaches on i) a range of short courses for the RDS, ii) the University’s MRes course in Applied Health Research, and iii) teaches and supervises students on the MSc course in Medical statistics. In 2006 Nick completed a PhD thesis on methods for estimating prevalence using disease register data.

Freya Tyrer - Senior Adviser in Epidemiology
Freya Tyrer has been based at the University of Leicester since 2004. She specialises in observational studies and has a particular interest in mental health and intellectual disability research.


Qualitative Researchers

Rebecca Barnes - Senior Research Adviser in Qualitative and Social Research Methods
Rebecca joined the RDS in November 2019, having previously been Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Leicester. Rebecca is a social scientist with a background in both Sociology and Criminology, and she completed her PhD at the University of Nottingham in 2007. Her research expertise lies in the field of domestic violence and gender-based violence, with a particular interest in domestic violence and abuse primarily in lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT+) populations and latterly in Christian communities. Her monograph, Queering Narratives of Domestic Abuse, is soon to be published by Palgrave Pivot (Donovan and Barnes, forthcoming). Rebecca is also currently leading a mixed-methods study about improving the mental health outcomes of Nottingham’s LGBT+ population, funded by NHS Nottingham City Clinical Commissioning Group. Rebecca has extensive experience of qualitative research, especially qualitative interviewing; survey design; and outcome measurement in evaluation research. She has particular interests in research on sensitive or stigmatised topics; equality, diversity and inclusion in research; participatory and creative methodologies; and working with marginalised and/or ‘vulnerable’ populations.

Brian Crosbie - Senior Research Adviser in Qualitative Research Methods, Deputy Site Lead Nottingham
Brian’s background is in sociology with over 12 years’ experience in academic research. He has worked across a number of studies including team working in health setting; patients’ experience in stroke rehabilitation (NIHR CLAHRC); dementia research (RfPB), health technology studies, and arts in health project evaluation. More recently, he has worked on a realist synthesis, systematic review, on hearing loss and dementia among residents living in care homes. His PhD (2013), from the University of Sheffield, looked at clinicians’ socio-cultural framing of technology in the intensive care environment.
Along with experience and skills in delivering applied health research, Brian has particular interests in theoretically informed methodologies including realist methodology, discourse analysis, ethnography, and implementation science. Brian also advocates for patients and public informed research with his connections to a PPI dementia group. Brian teaches qualitative methods including grounded theory and realist evaluation, on postgraduate courses and has experience of supervising MSc and PhD candidates undertaking qualitative methods.

Rachel Evley - Senior Research Adviser in Qualitative Research Methods, Deputy Site Lead Leicester
Rachel is a Qualitative researcher and Registered Nurse and has worked in Anaesthesia & Critical Care research since 2000. Rachel has worked on mixed methods research funded by NIHR RfPB, as well as PI on several NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio studies.
Rachel completed her PhD thesis on safety in anaesthesia and the role of systems, technology and culture: this led to a greater awareness of drug errors within the UK anaesthetic community and a report published by the National Patient Safety Agency.
Rachel has been a reviewer for various medical journals including the British Journal of Anaesthesia and BMJ Open; she has also reviewed grant applications to the National Institute of Academic Anaesthesia.
Rachel continues her research activity with the University of Nottingham and the Royal College of Anaesthetists focused on the Perioperative pathway; she also provides research methodology expertise to inform national standard setting guidelines for anaesthesia service provision. Rachel teaches on the University of Nottingham N-Trans training programme and the University of Leicester MSc Quality and Safety in Healthcare and supervises students up to PhD level.

Clare Jackson - Senior Research Adviser in Qualitative Research Methods
Clare has worked on applied health and healthcare research projects since 1996. Using predominantly qualitative and mixed research methods to explore the experiences and views of patients, professionals and research participants, her work covers a diverse range of sensitive areas including obstetrics and gynaecology, consenting to surgery, primary care, paediatric intensive care, tumour banking and childhood cancer. Most recently, her work has focused on the recruitment of patients to various types of research, including clinical trials in childhood cancer. She is particularly interested in the ethical issues associated with clinical trials and research involving children.


Della Cohen - Regional Finance Lead
Della works alongside the Director, managing the financial organisation and contractual administration of RDS East Midlands. Della is happy to answer any finance-related queries about RDS East Midlands and our regional schemes.

Louise Halbert- Business Manager and RDS National Office Project Lead
Louise is responsible for all operational issues in the delivery of Research Design Service East Midlands services across the region, and has oversight of marketing and publicity activities. She is member of the management executive which holds responsibility for the financial and strategic oversight of the Research Design Service East Midlands. Louise has an MSc in Marketing Management with specialism in digital and social media channels. Louise advises researchers on their project dissemination plans and teams wanting to use social media to engage with their public involvement groups. As Project Lead for the National Office she supports the implementation of national service activities and leads on several workpackages. The role supports the national work of raising the Research Design Service profile and reputation Follow @NIHR_RDS on Twitter for national updates.

Janet Jones - Administrator
Janet provides part-time administrative support within the Leicester Unit. She manages the public involvement fund along with administrative matters regarding the regional public contributor group.

Karen Taylor - Administrator
Karen provides administrative support within the Nottingham Unit. The work has a mainly organisational content responding to general issues and administrative matters primarily providing administration to the Regional Advisory Board, Regional Operations Group, Project Review meetings and Learning Events. 

Paula Warrington - Communications Officer
Paula’s background is in English. In her doctoral thesis, she explored the role of conceptual metaphor in communication; she subsequently became interested in storytelling in education. Recent work has included designing an online resource for healthcare professionals who undertake research. Paula is responsible for both internal and external communications regarding RDS services and research design updates. Follow RDS EM on Twitter for regional updates @NIHR_RDSEM

Joanne Wood - Administrator
Joanne provides financial support to the Nottingham Unit, including budget, income and expenditure monitoring. She also oversees the management and co-ordination of personnel records and procedures.