Meet the inspirational women at the forefront of pioneering research at Hull York Medical School

8 March 2018
HYMS Female Researchers

Meet the inspirational women at the forefront of pioneering research at Hull York Medical School

Meet the inspirational women at the forefront of pioneering research at Hull York Medical School

To mark International Women’s Day 2018, we’re shining a light on some of the transformative research being carried out at Hull York Medical School – and the women spearheading progress and innovation in areas as diverse as cancer diagnosis and treatment, mental health, diabetes and palliative care, to name just a few.

Researchers at Hull York Medical School are united by one common goal: to truly make a difference to people’s lives. From world-leading progress in palliative care at the recently opened £2.4 million Wolfson Palliative Care Research Centre at the University of Hull, to globally-impactful vaccine development at the University of York, our teams are committed to transforming the lives of patients in the local region, nationally and beyond. It is this passion and dedication that has resulted in 85% of Hull York Medical School research being classified as world-leading or internationally excellent in the most recent Research Excellence Framework.

Professor Miriam Johnson is Professor of Palliative Care at Hull York Medical School, and Director of the £2.4 million Wolfson Palliative Care Research Centre. Miriam’s research has led to the identification of Chronic Breathlessness Syndrome, a type of breathlessness that can persist in patients despite treatment for an underlying medical condition, and whose recognition by international experts as a clinical syndrome will transform the way patients access treatment and support. Speaking about her research into end of life care, Miriam said: ‘We are determined to make a difference to those patients and their families who are dealing with life-limiting-conditions. We want to ensure that all people have access to the help they need when they are faced with serious illness.’

Dr Najma Siddiqi’s research is based on co-existing mental and physical health problems. People with mental illness have a shocking 20 year lower life expectancy than the general population, with the majority of deaths occurring not directly due to the mental illness itself, but because of physical health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease. Najma, who leads the £2.5 million DIAMONDS research programme aimed at developing and evaluating a diabetes self-management intervention for people with severe mental illness, was drawn to this area following time spent as a psychiatrist in specialist mental health services: ‘This glaring inequality presents huge opportunities for research that will have an important impact on people’s lives.’

Dr Lina Gega’s expertise is in digital technologies and mental health, particularly in relation to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), supported self-managed care and standardised interventions in primary care and the community. Her current research focuses on interventions with children and young people affected by, or at risk of, mental health problems.

Her research work has been with a range of clinical populations, including phobias, social anxiety, depression, intellectual disabilities and psychosis. She supports the Child Oriented Mental Health Intervention Centre (COMIC) and works with health services, social care, education and charities to upskill health and non-health professionals, as well as to train peers and parents/carers of service users.

Dr Maureen Twiddy’s work aims to influence the delivery of healthcare by tapping into the experiential knowledge that patients and carers possess, placing the public at the heart of research to ensure that new services and treatments meet their needs. As a methodologist, Maureen works with healthcare professionals to provide the best quality evidence possible to inform patient care, and is currently working with clinicians across Hull York Medical School and Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust to develop exciting new research proposals which have the potential to change the way patients are cared for across Yorkshire and beyond.

Maureen is currently working on a Prostate Cancer UK funded project to understand the supportive care needs of men with prostate cancer, 47,000 of whom were diagnosed in 2015. A national survey of patients and their carers/family members will identify the areas of unmet need, particularly around palliative care, ultimately making a real difference to the lives of those living with the disease.

Dr Laura Sadofsky specialises in research into chronic cough, and improving the treatments available to patients living with this debilitating condition. Her work, which aims to determine how irritants and pollutants are sensed in the airways and how these cause coughing, has contributed to the development of a model of the human airways using cell lines and lung tissue, which it is hoped will be developed into a ‘lung-on-a-chip’ device – a complex, three-dimensional model of a living, breathing human lung on a microchip – to better understand the mechanisms of cough, and test medicines to help in the development of better therapies.


Learn more about the wide range of research undertaken at Hull York Medical School