Meet the Newcastle MIC Team

Prof. John Simpson 
Director NIHR Newcastle MIC
Dean of Translational Research & Professor of Respiratory Medicine, Newcastle University

Dr. Michael Power 
Deputy Director NIHR Newcastle MIC
Besides being the MIC’s Deputy Director, Michael is also Evidence-Based Practice Lead at the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He has 10 years’ experience in developing evidence-based guidance for the NICE’s Clinical Knowledge Summaries (CKS). Michael’s clinical background is paediatric rheumatology. He has been coinvestigator of research projects funded by the Wellcome Trust and the EU Framework Programmes. Besides beingthe senior evaluation methodologist, Michael also leads the MIC's Dissemination Group, and sits on the NuTH Tests and Investigations Formulary Committee.

Dr Joy Allen
Senior Evaluation Methodologist
With 10 years of training in applied mathematics and theoretical physics, Joy took on a new challenge in 2014 when she joined the DEC and applied her analytical and problem solving skills to diagnostic test evaluation research.  A strong grounding in mathematical modelling and an inquisitive mind made the transition (albeit scary!) a successful one.  She has worked on the design and analysis of many of the DEC's projects to date including the clinical and economic evaluation of rapid tests for viral infections, infections which confer antibiotic resistance and inherited conditions such as familial hypercholesterolemia.  Joy has also spearheaded the academic development of the DEC by securing collaborations with leading expertise in research into the interdisciplinary methodologies involved in evaluations of diagnostic tests and medical devices and continues to advocate methodological development throughout all the DEC's projects.  While Joy is fascinated by many areas of test evaluation research, a key personal interest of Joy's is the development of novel methodologies to aid the evaluation of new diagnostic tests and devices when the current reference standard is non-existent or imperfect.

Dr. Rachel Dickinson
Research and Development Study 
Over her 15 year academic career Rachel has applied her genetics knowledge to advance different fields of medical research including haematology, breast and ovarian cancer and female infertility. As well as research she has gained experience in a variety of activities including project management, administration, public engagement and teaching.  In 2018 she joined the MIC as a Research Project Administrator.  She provides administrative, communications and project management support including: copy editing scientific reports written by the methodologists; collecting, collating and issuing fortnightly progress reports for the NIHR Newcastle MIC management group and maintaining and regularly updating the NIHR Newcastle MIC website.  She sees her new role as a fantastic opportunity to help facilitate the wide breadth of applied research being undertaken in Newcastle.

Statistical Methodologist
Clare has recently joined the MIC; she has a broad background in handling and analysing data, and over 30 years of experience of programming in languages such as SAS, visual basic, and R.
As pre-clinical statistical manager at Sanofi, she worked with lab scientists (in analytical sciences, in-vitro toxicology, toxicokinetics) on assay development and transfer to production sites, acquiring an understanding of in-vitro work, and particularly statistical analysis of lab data.  She was also a member of several project teams, responsible for managing the development of drugs through preclinical stages to regulatory submission, working with a diverse range of specialists in multidisciplinary teams. She oversaw the development of a data analysis system at Sanofi, which focussed on improving workflow, quality of data and graphical visualization of results; and is constantly aiming to improve the quality and reproducibility of data handling and statistical skills of both herself and the teams she works with. She has a methodological interest in developing biomarkers to ensure they are fit for purpose within healthcare settings.
Clare is familiar with the regulatory requirements for the development of in-vitro diagnostic tests, and has extensive experience of the development/submission process in general from her work in pharmaceuticals.
More recently, working as a data manager and statistician at the university, Clare has provided statistical support for undergraduates, PhD students and researchers; become familiar with NHS data, including setting up an MS-Access based database for the bone-marrow transplant team; and contributed to various ethics submissions and grant applications for research projects.
When not looking at data, Clare likes to walk up (and if not too exhausted, down) hills.                     

Deputy Director NIHR Newcastle MIC
Head of Department of Northern Medical Physics & Clinical Engineering, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Senior Evaluation Methodologist
Sara joined the NIHR Newcastle DEC in August 2015 after being a Research Associate at Institute of Neuroscience,
Newcastle University since 2009. She is a scientist with ten years’ training in statistics and has a strong academic
background in the analysis and interpretation of large and complex datasets. Sara has significant knowledge of study design, and extensive experience of project coordination - facilitating national and international collaborations.

Evaluation Methodologist  
Will is a philosopher (BSc) and neuroscientist (MSc, PhD pending) with 8 years of experience in theoretical and empirical research. William joined the NIHR DEC in the Autumn of 2017 and has since being involved in a mixture of academic and hands-on training. In the former, this has involved courses in diagnostic evaluation run by Cochrane group. In the latter, this has involved shadowing and assisting the DEC team in their ongoing research projects.
William has worked on a broad range of research topics and consequently has developed a uniquely disparate range of skills. He is competent in statistical analysis (published) and programming, but is also well read in many philosophical areas such as ethics, logic, the philosophy of science and the philosophy of language. For his PhD, William performed electroencephalography research in patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, therefore, he has a working knowledge of the regulatory issues involved in the clinical environment and an awareness of the NHS structures and policies involved in the performance of ethically approved and empirically-valid clinical research.

Rachel O'Leary
Trainee Healthcare Scientist-Clinical Bioinformatics 
With an MPhys in Physics with Medical Physics, Rachel joined the DEC in 2014 as a Research Scientist, and worked for one year on an informatics project to support the delivery of clinical studies, in collaboration with a local company. During this time she undertook courses in quantitative research, health economics, and systematic reviewing, and her contract was renewed to provide ongoing support to studies using the informatics system, and to allow her to develop skills as a methodologist. Under the supervision of the Deputy Director, she led on the design of a laboratory based study in cancer diagnosis, and assisted in the data cleaning and analysis for other studies. In 2016, Rachel was given the opportunity to apply as an in-service applicant to the NHS Scientist Training Programme in Clinical Bioinformatics, and was successful. This is a three year programme, during which Rachel is also supported by the Northern Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering Directorate, and it involves a lot of databases, analysis, modelling, and web development. Upon qualifying as a Clinical Scientist in 2019, Rachel hopes to continue in the MIC, and put her new skills to good use in a data science role.

Dr. Alison Bray
Clinical Scientist (pre-reg), Northern Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering

Alison is a pre-registration Clinical Scientist with the Northern Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering department within The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. She studied Mathematical Physics at UMIST and joined Medical Physics in 2009, completing a PhD in Medical Science in 2014. The overarching theme of her work is to support the development and evaluation of medical interventions, mostly diagnostics. She performs a varied role including research protocol development, clinical data collection, quantitative and qualitative data analysis, dissemination, and the co-ordination of patient and public involvement. She has worked within the fields of urology, gastroenterology, ear nose and throat, oncology and nephrology. She is also involved in teaching and supervising students. Never a dull moment!

Dr. Jana Suklan
Clinical Test Evaluation Methodologist
Jana has a PhD in Interdisciplinary Statistics and a BSc in social research along with 13 years of industry experience coupled with 6 years of teaching and research in Academia. Since 2008, she has worked on a freelance basis, assisting companies and research teams with their research as well as advanced analytics, gaining key experience with both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, as well as contributing to project management activities and coordinating multiple aspects of work to meet deadlines.Over the past six years, she worked in higher education organisations as a researcher and assistant professor, being responsible for all research activities within the Faculty, including the preparation and submission of project applications, project management of successful submissions from inception to completion. In addition she regularly lectured on modules and supervised undergraduate and postgraduate students covering topics such as Methods of Quantitative Research, Descriptive and Interferential Statistics as well as Multivariate Analysis.Jana joined the Newcastle MIC in the autumn of 2018 as a clinical test evaluation methodologist focus on mixed methods analysis and reporting.

Anna Halstead
Project Manager

As a Research Project Manager in the University's Faculty of Medical Sciences,  Anna is currently the Project Manager in the MIC. This is a very varied role, which involves managing the team's resources, finances, planning and reporting as well as liaison with industry and stakeholders.  After completing her BA in languages (Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies) she began a role providing IT support to Spanish customers. This eventually led her to project management, predominantly in IT. Since then she has worked for several years in the private and public sectors, gaining experience in a wide range of projects and settings.  She joined Newcastle University in 2018.  She is a Prince2 Practitioner and a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).