Meet the Cohort

Dr Vanessa Apea
Supervisor- Dr Paparini

I am an experienced sexual health physician based at Barts Health NHS Trust and am the deputy academic lead for equality, diversity and inclusion within Queen Mary University of London’s School of Medicine and Dentistry.
I am a member of the London Fast-Track Cities Initiative stigma subgroup working to get London to zero HIV stigma. I am also the medical director of NAZ, a charity advocating for high quality sexual health and HIV support services for racially minoritised communities. I held a Fulbright scholarship and received a Masters in Public Health from Harvard University.  
I am passionate about reducing inequalities in healthcare. I have made this a central focus of my clinical work and received an NHS 70 Windrush Award for my contribution to improving health equity. My PhD will examine the conversational strategies used by clinicians and patients in consultations involving women of Black African and Caribbean heritage, and their associated contextual dimensions. I aim to identify good practice that might enable more collaborative and effective conversations and improve the experience and outcomes of care in these groups.

Mr Fred Baron
Public Health MSc

I read philosophy at Cambridge University, and initially pursued a career in public policy and public relations. I retrained in physiotherapy at King’s College London, graduating in 2013. Since then, I have specialised in treating with people with neurological conditions, working in London at Homerton Hospital and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. Through working with diverse communities in London, I have developed an interest in the cultural factors which influence engagement in exercise and physiotherapy, and how these can lead to health inequalities in different groups. 

Dr Jillian Barry
Public Mental Health MSc

My name is Jilly. I have just completed my first year of psychiatry training at ELFT. My main area of interest is in perinatal mental health. During this pre-doctoral fellowship I plan to work with PI’s on current research at the Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry (QMUL) and Centre for Maternal and Child Health Research (City University), alongside completing a Master’s in Public Mental Health. I love HARP’s ethos of conducting research in underrepresented groups and I can’t wait to start and meet other students/academics.

Dr Hamzah Farooq
Supervisor- Prof Foster

I am a Specialist Registrar and early clinical academic in Infectious Diseases, Virology and Tropical Medicine. I hold a Masters in Tropical Medicine and Infectious Diseases from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and have a special interest in blood-borne viruses, emerging infections and global health medicine.  My research career aim is to contribute to the control of infectious diseases in high-burden settings through operational research and evaluation of novel diagnostics and therapeutics.
My PhD project, supervised by Professor Graham Foster, Dr Jessie Cooper, Professor Shashi Hirani and Professor Chris Griffiths, is focused on identifying barriers and strategies for liver cancer screening and investigating epidemiological and genomic risk factors in Hepatitis C people of Pakistani heritage.
I have experience in humanitarian and global health medicine in Lesvos, Greece assisting with the Syrian refugee crisis in 2016 and am the Infection co-ordinator for the NGO, INTERYem. In recognition of my work, I was awarded the Furness Prize in Science Communication in 2020 by the Royal College of Pathologists.

Dr Stephen Hibbs
Supervisor- Prof Swinglehurst

I have been training as a haematology registrar in East London for the past five years. Research in haematology tends to focus on molecular mechanisms of disease or clinical studies with quantitative outcomes; in contrast, my interests have been in how patients and caregivers make meaning out of illness and healthcare experiences. I am interested in how different perspectives can deepen our understanding of these experiences, and I have previously co-produced research, conference presentations, publications and teaching resources with patients and non-traditional contributors.
Patients with sickle cell disease often experience stigma, disbelief and uncompassionate care in hospital. My PhD aims to understand what would constitute good care in hospital for patients experiencing sickle cell crises, and to identify the barriers to achieving this. I will be investigating the experience of patients from the decision of whether to come to hospital at all, their interactions once in hospital, and post-discharge care. I am also investigating the healthcare professional experience of caring for a patient in sickle cell crisis. I aim to understand how these experiences interact with the context of policies, protocols and guidelines. My approach will be through a combination of ethnographic observation, in-depth interviews, and documentary analysis. The research will be co-produced with several people living with sickle cell disease, who will contribute to research design, data analysis, and the dissemination of findings.

Dr Sam Hodgson
Supervisor- Dr Finer

I’m an NHS GP and researcher interested in how genetics can help manage chronic, long-term conditions like type 2 diabetes in primary care.  I completed undergraduate training at Oxford University Medical School before moving to the University of Southampton for combined clinical and academic training on the NIHR’s Integrated Academic Training scheme.  While completing my GP training as an ACF, I studied for an MSc in Genomic Medicine at the University of Exeter, and began collaborating with the Genes & Health group at QMUL.  
Genes & Health is a long-term study of British Pakistani and Bangladeshi individuals combining GP and hospital electronic health records with state-of-the art genetic testing. Working as part of a fantastic team during my ACF, I helped show that genetic information in the form of polygenic risk scores can improve prediction of type 2 diabetes and its complications, and aid in better understanding the aetiology of type 2 diabetes.  
During my PhD, I will build on this work to explore how genetic information, combined with electronic health records, can help understand and guide interventions in people who have more than one chronic, long-term condition (multimorbidity).   Collaborating with genetic researchers at the Sanger Institute and working within the Genes & Health group, I will describe how patterns of anxiety, depression, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and other cardiometabolic conditions develop across the life course in British Pakistani and Bangladeshi individuals, and explore how genetic information could help identify individuals at high risk of these conditions or their complications. This work will provide a platform for targeted prediction and intervention studies in under-represented groups typically not included in genetic research studies.   

Ms Kirsten Prest
Supervisor- Prof Harden

I am a paediatric occupational therapist with an interest in supporting parents and carers of children with disabilities across a variety of contexts both in the UK and South Africa. I recently completed a Masters in Evidence-Based Healthcare at the University of Oxford where I conducted a study exploring the impact of play-based groups for children with disabilities on maternal wellbeing.  My doctoral research will focus on co-adapting the Ubuntu programme for an ethnically diverse and disadvantaged urban London context. The Ubuntu model is a community-based participatory caregiver training intervention that has been developed and successfully tested in resource-limited settings such as Uganda, Ghana and Bangladesh, and has been implemented globally. Evaluation has demonstrated improvements in parental quality of life and self-efficacy. After co-adapting this intervention for a UK context, I aims to pilot test the acceptability and feasibility with two groups of families, to inform a larger-scale evaluation of the intervention in the UK.

Ms Lucy Rodgers
Supervisor- Prof Herman

I have worked in the NHS as a paediatric speech and language therapist since qualifying in 2008.  I  have an interest in co-occurring conditions and the impact of multiple vulnerabilities on a child’s long term outcomes. As part of a NIHR funded pre-doctoral fellowship, I worked with families and clinicians to identify my PhD research question.
My PhD will identify the content, format, and process of delivery of an intervention for pre-schoolers with co-occurring features of a Speech Sound Disorder (SSD) and Developmental Language Disorder (DLD). To achieve this, I will integrate linguistic theory and behavioural science with the preferences of clinicians and families. The project steering group will consist of representatives from marginalised communities who are under-represented within intervention development research.

Dr Jalil Sharif
Supervisor-Prof Chapple

My name is Jalil-Ahmad Sharif, an ST6 Registrar in Intellectual Disability Psychiatry. By having worked in my Psychiatric subspeciality, I saw that the patient cohort I treat, had limited pharmacological options beyond treatments for behaviour of challenges and mental health problems, thus the underlying cause for Intellectual Disability was either undiagnosed or rare and hence currently not treatable. Subsequently this increased my interest in genomics and neuroscience. I initially furthered my neuroscience knowledge alongside my core psychiatry training by completing an Applied Neuroscience PgCert at Kings College London, I subsequently commenced a Genomic Medicine MSc at Exeter University and transferred to Imperial College London to complete the MSc. I will be joining Professor Paul Chapple’s laboratory for my PhD project, where I will develop cellular models of rare causes of autosomal recessive cerebellar ataxia manifesting with intellectual disability to investigate pathological cellular pathways and potential druggable targets. I am looking forward to researching these rare causes of neurodevelopmental disorders and orphan diseases.

Dr Andrew Sullivan
Supervisor- Prof Ahluwalia

I am a Cardiology Registrar based in the North East London Deanery. I obtained my primary medical degree (MBBS) at King’s College London in 2016, achieving three distinctions, and an intercalated BSc (1st Class Hons) in physiology with basic medical sciences in 2013. I achieved membership of the Royal College of Physicians in 2019.
I am undertaking my PhD fellowship at the William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London, under the supervision of Professor Amrita Ahluwalia and Dr Krishnaraj Rathod.  My research is aimed at gaining a better understanding of differences in coronary artery disease between females and males, with a specific focus on investigating whether inflammatory resolution is dampened in women who suffer with coronary artery disease (Resolve-CAD).