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MIDAS Team Biographies

Professor Andrew Clegg, Professor of Health Services Research, University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).Andrew is Professor of Health Services Research at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), leading the Health Technology Assessment Group at UCLan and the NIHR ARC NWC MIDAS cross-cutting theme. Previously he was Director of the Southampton Health Technology Assessments Centre (University of Southampton) (2002-2014), an NIHR centre of excellence, supporting the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance and guidelines programmes. Andrew’s research interests focus on the use of methods for evidence synthesis (including meta-analyses and network meta-analysis) and economic evaluations (including economic and statistical modelling) in decision-making regarding the provision of health and social care. He has contributed to systematic reviews and economic evaluations assessing medicines, devices, procedures, diagnostics, screening programmes and health promotion/public health programmes in a broad range of priority areas, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, mental health, sexual health and domestic violence.

Dr. Alison Doherty, NIHR ARC NWC MIDAS Theme Manager and Research Fellow within the Health Technology Assessment Group, University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), supporting the development and delivery of ARC NWC research to reduce health inequalities and improve health & wellbeing. Alison’s research activities include evidence synthesis, particularly systematic reviews, and co-producing qualitative research with vulnerable communities. Her experience includes health services research into issues such as polypharmacy and deprescribing for patients with multimorbidities, child and adolescent mental health services, access to primary healthcare for people with learning disabilities and or autism, and psychological support interventions for those exposed to mass outbreaks such as influenza pandemics. Her previous public sector experience has included developing and implementing various local authority and partnership strategies, plans and programmes in public health, health promotion, community cohesion and community safety. Member of the Faculty’s Athena Swan steering group.

Dr Valerio Benedetto, Research Fellow in the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Unit at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and a member of ARC NWC MIDAS. Valerio is an economist with expertise in quantitative analysis and his research focuses on health economics. His activities include the design and delivery of economic and statistical modelling and analyses for health research projects. He has experience of working on projects focusing on different disease areas and health settings. Valerio has contributed to the success of projects funded by national and international funders, and regularly collaborates on grant capture activities.

Dr Mark Goodall, Research Fellow in the Department of Health Services Research at the University of Liverpool supporting the NIHR ARC NWC through the cross-cutting theme MIDAS. He is a quantitative researcher with experience of using mixed methods. Current research is focussed on Health and Social care improvement, including Public, Mental, and Physical Health. Previous research experience included Clinical trials in Nigeria and Malawi (Africa), Systematic reviews, Health improvement and behavioural intervention trials, and observational study of Local authority wellbeing boards (UK). In addition, Mark has a role in the NIHR Research Design Service North West (RDSNW) advising and giving methodological support on all types of grant applications to open national peer-reviewed funding programmes.

Cath Harris, Information Specialist in the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Unit at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and a member of ARC NWC MIDAS theme. Cath is a qualified information professional providing specialist research support for systematic reviews, evidence syntheses and health technology assessments including designing and running literature searches and providing advice on search methodologies and reference management.

Joanna Harrison is a Research Fellow in Evidence Synthesis and Summary. Her experience in this area includes the conduct of systematic reviews including Cochrane, Health Technology Assessment and NIHR funded evidence syntheses. Joanna is currently working on the Rapid Conversion of Evidence Summaries (RaCES) project, collaborating with health and social care professionals to address an area of clinical need, appraise the relevant evidence and inform practice. Joanna’s previous research experience was in stroke research at UCLan, with a particular interest in qualitative and mixed-method approaches. Joanna also worked as a Research Capacity Delivery Manager for the NIHR CLAHRC NWC, facilitating research internships and student fellowships. Joanna has experience of teaching research topics at post-graduate level and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

James Hill is a Senior Research Fellow within the Health Technology Group at the University of Central Lancashire. His research interests are health informatics, evidence synthesis methodology, automated systematic reviews, public health, rehabilitation, implementation science. James is a qualified physiotherapist and has over a decade experience of teaching and learning within higher education. James is a member of the healthcare professional counsel, chartered Society of physiotherapy and fellow of the Higher Education Academy. James has experience of project management, evidence synthesis and implementation science.

Dr Katerina Panagaki, NIHR ARC NWC Senior Research Associate and Health Equity Mainstreaming Lead, based at the Department of Health Research, Lancaster University. Her most recent research focused on mental health and health inequalities. She is a qualified psychologist with working experience in the NHS, the third sector, and policy. She also has a background in cultural anthropology and epidemiology. As a result, she has an interest in implementing research and translating good practice into policy.

Dr Katalin Ujhelyi Gomez, NIHR ARC NWC MIDAS Research Associate in the Department of Primary Care and Mental Health, University of Liverpool. Katalin is a mixed methods researcher with a counselling and psychology background and experience in behaviour science. She has conducted research primarily in substance misuse, and comorbid substance use and mental health problems, in addition to the multimorbidity of mental health problems and alcohol attributable non-communicable diseases. She has experience in conducting systematic reviews, identifying behaviour change techniques (general and alcohol-specific), designing and evaluating interventions, and patient and public involvement. She has also conducted research around building resilience with reference to COVID-19 geographies to provide recommendations on strengthening resilience in British Cities for future pandemics. Her other COVID-19-related study explored the social and psychological factors of COVID-19 specifically in the Liverpool City Region. Katalin has a research interest in the increase of wellbeing and resilience, positive psychology, strengths-based approaches, and social prescribing.

Learn more about Katalin here.

Gerry Allen, PA Co-Lead.

Gerry Allen has been a Public Advisor at the University of Liverpool since May 2020. In that time, much of his focus has been with the study Perceptions of risk and experience of the COVID-19 pandemic for households, communities and organisations in the Liverpool City Region’ led by Professor Mark Gabbay. Other work to date has included rapid reading contributions (most recently to the paper ‘Testing: What is the Strategy’). Dr Amanda Lamb described this response as “….exactly at the level we were hoping for and is very useful to us as we move forwards to publication”. Other work has included coding transcripts and contributions to the Public Advisors’ Forum.

Gerry is a highly experienced Public Sector leader. He has worked in the Liverpool City Region for over 20 years in the charitable and public sectors, leading the development of early years children’s services in Knowsley from the early 2000s firstly as Manager of Halewood Sure Start Local Programme (preceding Children’s Centres), through to holding the position of Service Improvement & Development Manager with borough-wide responsibility for Children’s Centre services in Knowsley. He is currently the ‘Town Manager’ for Halewood Town Council with a wider cross-generational brief. In 2020, much of his professional capacity has been dedicated to responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gerry was born and raised in North Liverpool and grew up with the lived experience of health inequalities across families and neighbourhoods. Professionally and academically, he has spent much of my career dealing with the impact of poverty and health inequalities and seeking to improve outcomes for the most disadvantaged.

Gerry has always shown a commitment to serving the community, putting preschool children and families’ wellbeing (and now the residents of Halewood Town) at the heart of decisions and service quality, placing a strong emphasis on research or evidence-based decisions and he welcomes the chance to work with academic institutions and participate in research. As an example, Gerry was a contributor to the UCL Institute of Health Equity report ‘An Equal Start: Improving Outcomes in Children’s Centres’ 2012. A project led by Professor Michael Marmot. More recently, Gerry has been involved with professional training and the use of Action Learning Sets to embed and disseminate good practice.

He has an ability to work with multiple partners including parents, councillors, academics, professionals across children’s, health services and the voluntary sector and Council leaders. Gerry has valued his as a Public Advisor and the opportunity to link with colleagues across the region and the opportunity to work with the academic colleagues has been very refreshing.

Gerry is delighted to have recently join the ‘DynAIRx’ and MIDAS projects at the University of Liverpool. The opportunity become involved with these innovative projects investigating and seeking solutions to the health problems of society fits well with his personal and professional lived experiences, and he hopes to make a useful contribution alongside partners and peers.

Patricia Jamal, Public Adviser Co-Theme Lead.
I am an Academic Librarian with over 25 years’ experience in Libraries in Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and the UK. Since arriving back to the UK in August 2020, I have been involved with the Maternity Voices Partnership in my role as Maternity Diversity Champion in the Bay area. My involvement with ethnic minority communities, hearing their maternity experiences and making a positive impact towards better communication and an awareness of what needs improving has led me to my role as a Public Adviser with ARC-NWC.

Another area that paved the way for me to reach this position with the ARC has been my volunteering with RAIS Lancaster after the funding for the Maternity Diversity Champion had stopped. This type of work made me understand the needs of Refugees and Asylum Seekers coming into the UK for a better life, and helping them navigate through the system to achieve that and beyond. My grandparents and parents sought refuge from Palestine to Lebanon in 1948, so I have a special emotional bond to people with such needs, our Seldom Heard Voices.

Excitedly, my life journey seems to be taking me yet again towards an area I did not know much about or was even aware of. In October 2021 I started as a Public Adviser with ARC-NWC, advising PhD students with their research projects, involving myself in projects such as The Library of Lived Experiences, focusing on mental health and health inequalities in the region. There are many areas and projects to work on and the great thing is that you could choose the projects that seem to call you.

Health research and the amazing and diverse work involved in it for a Public Adviser highlights the importance of the public to have a voice and contribute and co-produce research. To be part of that makes me feel heard and valued.

In January 2022 I have been selected as a Public Adviser co-lead for the MIDAS cross-cutting theme, to contribute by using my career experience as a Librarian and by being a service user of health services myself, to help lead co-production and public involvement through methodological support for research in health, wellbeing and social care. To be working along experienced researchers and institutions who are helping shape health policies and involved research is an enriching experience. From working on a ‘glossary of lay person’s terms’ to summarizing a RaCES document, just to count a few, there is no time for boredom. And the journey continues…


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