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Brighton & Sussex Medical School


Dr Naji Tabet headshot

Director, Centre of Dementia Studies
Professor Naji Tabet (MSc (Immunology), MSc (Psych), PGCert (Med Ed), MD (Lon), FRCPsych) 

Professor Naji Tabet, Professor in Dementia and Old Age Psychiatry, is the Director of the Centre for Dementia Studies (CDS) and the Course Leader of the MSc Dementia Studies at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Prof Tabet also leads the Dementia Theme at the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) KSS and the CDS research is closely aligned with ARC KSS Dementia Sub-themes. Prof Tabet is also the Dementia Speciality Co-Lead for NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) KSS. 

A major interest for the Centre for Dementia and its research staff is the investigation of quality of life and non-pharmacological interventions in the field of dementia. Prof Tabet has also been the Principal and UK Chief Investigator on over 35 Phase II-IV therapeutic and diagnostic clinical trials in dementia. The CDS involvement in clinical randomised trials is carried out through the Dementia Research Unit at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust supported by dedicated clinical research team working with Prof Tabet. 

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Honorary Visiting Professor
Professor Sube Banerjee

Sube Banerjee MBE, MB BS MSc MBA MD FRCPsych is Honorary Visiting Professor and he is Executive Dean of Health: Medicine, Dentistry and Human Sciences at Plymouth University. He trained at St Thomas’s, Guy’s and the Maudsley hospitals, and was the Professor of Mental Health and Ageing at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, for 10 years. He was the Department of Health for England’s senior professional advisor on dementia and led the development of its National Dementia Strategy, as well as conducting the national enquiry into the use of antipsychotics in dementia for the UK government. He developed the Croydon Memory Service Model and works with industry and governments on health systems, policy and strategies to improve health for older adults with complex needs and those in long-term care with dementia.

An active researcher with more than 120 original papers published in peer-reviewed journals, Professor Banerjee focuses on measurement of quality of life in dementia, evaluation of new treatments and services, and the interface between policy, research and practice. He has been awarded national and international awards for his work in policy and research.

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Senior Lecturer in Older People’s Mental Health & Education
Dr Stephanie Daley

Dr Stephanie Daley is the evaluation lead for the Time for Dementia programme. Stephanie undertook her PhD at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London on the applicability of the concept and practice of recovery for older people with mental health problems, including dementia. Stephanie has over 20 years experience as an Occupational Therapist, most recently as the Professional Lead for Occupational Therapy for the Mental Health of Older Adults and Dementia CAG at the South London & Maudsley NHS Trust. Stephanie has also worked as an Organisational Consultant, and has run the Leadership and Change module for the Advanced Care of Dementia at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London since 2011. • 01273 873206

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Senior Research Fellow
Dr Nicolas Farina

Dr Nicolas Farina is a Senior Research Fellow for the Centre for Dementia Studies. He has a PhD in Psychology from the University of Sussex, in which he explored the effects of physical activity on the executive decline of people with dementia. Dr Farina has a wide range of research interest areas that seek to improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers. In recent years, he has developed an expertise in dementia-related stigma, working both within the UK and internationally. At present he is co-ordinating two work packages on the STRiDE project. (

Dr Farina is the module lead for BSMS 202 (Neuroscience and Behaviour) and is a REDCap administrator. • 01273 678995

Dorina Cadar Headshot Image

Senior Lecturer in Cognitive Epidemiology and Dementia
Dr Dorina Cadar

Dr Dorina Cadar BSc, MSc, PgCert, PhD is the director of the Cognitive Epidemiology, Dementia and Ageing Research (CEDAR) lab. She is the Principal Investigator of the Alzheimer Society grant ‘Cognitive reserve and dementia’, ESRC funded project ‘Social determinants of dementia in the UK and Japan’, and a Co-Investigator of international grants funded by Canadian Institute of Ageing Research and Japanese Institute of Health. Dorina undertook her MRC funded PhD on the role of lifestyle behaviours on cognitive ageing at the Institute of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London and her MSc in Clinical Neuroscience at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London where she has investigated the applicability of novel neuroimaging techniques in measuring brain atrophy in patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment and dementia.

Dr Dorina Cadar is an active researcher with more than 100 original papers published in peer-reviewed journals including JAMA Psychiatry, British Journal of Psychiatry and Journal of Alzheimer Disease. She focuses on the interindividual variability of cognitive ageing, and in particular why some individuals are at higher risk of developing dementia compared to others. Dorina is interested in various determinants of mental capabilities across the life-course and specifically on the modifiable risk factors associated with cognitive decline and dementia. Dorina has been awarded national and international awards for her research. 

Akin Ojagbemi Headshot Image

Akin Ojagbemi
NIHR and Wellcome International Intermediate Fellow

Akin Ojagbemi MBBS, PhD, MSc is NIHR and Wellcome International Intermediate Fellow. He is an old age psychiatrist trained in dementia care at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurosciences, King’s College London. Akin had his PhD from Stellenbosch University, Cape-Town South Africa on the neurobiology of Schizophrenia as expressed in indigenous Africans, and a postdoctoral fellowship training in Clinical Trials Design and Implementation at Northwestern University Chicago, United States of America. He is currently developing task shared psychosocial interventions on digital platforms suitable for use by non-specialist healthcare workers for the identification and treatment of older people’s depression and dementia in underserved populations.

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Research Fellow 
Dr Ben Hicks

Ben Hicks is a Research Fellow and the Programme Co-ordinator of the DETERMIND project, based at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. His research concerns supporting quality of life and social inclusion in people with dementia through exploring the differing lived experiences of the condition and addressing the inequalities that may arise in the dementia care pathway. His PhD focused on examining and supporting social inclusion in rural-dwelling older men with dementia through a community technological initiative that was tailored towards their multiple masculinities. 

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Research Fellow
Dr Rebecca Atkinson

Rebecca Atkinson is an NIHR Research Fellow on the ARC KSS Living well with Dementia theme. Before joining the ARC KSS, she completed her PhD in Psychology at the University of Sussex. Her thesis explored the effect of carrying a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (the APOE-ɛ4 allele) and the impact of cognitive and leisure activities on healthy cognitive ageing across the lifespan. Rebecca also worked as a Lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex, teaching research methods and statistics using. Rebecca has a wide range of research interests, centred on how to promote quality of life and functional independence in people with dementia. She is particularly interested in the impact of lifestyle factors (e.g., social engagement, cognitive and leisure activities, diet) on wellbeing and cognitive function. Rebecca has a keen interest in identifying barriers to dementia support for minority and disadvantaged groups. She uses a broad range of methods to investigate these topics, including both experimental and longitudinal modelling approaches.

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Molly Hebditch
Research Fellow

Dr Molly Hebditch is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Dementia Studies working on the evaluation of the Time for Dementia programme. Her PhD explored medical and nursing student’s career preferences for working with people with dementia. Molly's research interests include the improvement of quality of life and care practices for those affected by dementia, and education in dementia.

Gosia Raczek

Module Leader of MSc Dementia Studies
Dr Malgorzata (Gosia) Raczek 

Dr Gosia Raczek is an Honorary Senior Lecturer at BSMS and a module leader for the MSc in Dementia Studies. She is also a clinical academic consultant in Old Age Psychiatry in Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, where she works in Memory Assessment Service in North West Sussex and Dementia Research Unit in Crowborough. Gosia is an investigator in a number of clinical trials and other studies within the CDS with collaboration with UCL and KCL.  Her special interest is neuroimaging in dementia where she collaborates with   researches  the Clinical Imaging Sciences Centre at BSMS. • 01403 223244 

Mokhtar Isaac

Consultant in Old Age and General Adult Psychiatry
Dr Moktar Isaac

Dr Mokhtar Isaac is a consultant in Old Age and General Adult psychiatry at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation trust and  Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer with BSMS. He has special interest in medical education and is involved in under and postgraduate teaching. His research interests include dementia and suicide prevention. 

Linda Bennett 2020

Centre Administrator
Linda Bennett 

Linda Bennett is the Centre for Dementia’s administrator and works to ensure the smooth running of the Centre on a day-to-day basis. Linda is also the project officer for the Time for Autism programme which launches in September 2021.  • 01273 877896 

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Business Manager
Melanie Thomas

Melanie Thomas is the Business Manager for the Centre for Dementia Studies, working between BSMS and SPFT supporting the setup of the programmes.  Her role includes setting up contracts and managing budgets for the Centre for Dementia Studies and the Time for Dementia and Time for Autism programmes. She also supports the Dementia Care Improvement Network and works alongside HEESE to report dementia training data. Melanie has worked in the NHS and Clinical Research Organisations for many years and has a project management and research governance background.

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Project Administrator, Time for Dementia
Denise Roden  

Denise Roden manages the administration for the Time for Dementia programme which gives medical students the opportunity to visit a family living with dementia over a period of two years. Denise works closely with the Evaluation Lead, Dr Stephanie Daley, to ensure the smooth running of the programme. This includes pairing the students with the participant families, keeping track of when students are out on visits and keeping in touch with the participant families. • 01273 678182

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Research Assistant
Alice Russell

Alice Russell is a Research Assistant for the DETERMIND project. She graduated from the University of Portsmouth in 2016 with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology. Since then, she undertook a Graduate Psychology Internship with the Adur, Arun and Worthing (AAW) Assessment and Treatment Service (ATS) at Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust (SPFT). Alice’s interest for dementia was established during her University dissertation where she interviewed Dementia Carers about how friendships affected their lives.

Research Assistant
Anomita Karim

Anomita Karim is currently a Research Assistant for the DETERMIND project. She graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2017 with an MA in Social Research Methods (Social Work and Professional Practice), where she wrote her dissertation on the experiences of transgender’s accessing social and healthcare in Bangladesh. After her MA she worked for Picker, a healthcare organisation in Oxford between 2018 – 2019 and worked closely with CQC in assessing how healthcare has been delivered widely across NHS trusts. Her line of interests include looking into how to improve the quality of care for those impacted with dementia, especially those from ethnic minority backgrounds. 

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Research Assistant
Georgia Towson

Georgia Towson graduated from the University of Southampton in 2019 with a BA in Human Geography, before graduating in 2020 with an MSc in Public Health. During her MSc, Georgia worked alongside Wessex Academic Health Science Network as a student researcher looking into the early impact of a new eLearning resource upon staff and residents in the community care setting, as well as the challenges to implementation during the Covid-19 pandemic. Georgia has also worked as an FSA/MTA in a variety of wards including emergency care and elderly medicine. She has developed an interest in improving quality of life of those with dementia, as well as those in care home settings. She is currently working as a Research Assistant on Time for Dementia.

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Research Assistant
Yvonne Feeney 

Yvonne Feeney qualified as a Registered General Nurse from University College Cork in 2003. Following qualification, Yvonne worked as a staff nurse in the acute care settings before commencing her career managing care services for older people in Scotland in 2008. During this time, she gained a keen interest in dementia care, specifically in relation to improving quality of life for those living with dementia in the care home setting. This led to an interest in applied research and the role education plays in improving awareness and attitudes toward the condition. In 2016 Yvonne joined the Centre for Dementia Studies at BSMS to commence her role as research assistant on the Time for Dementia programme. Yvonne also supports clinical research studies in a nursing capacity at the Dementia Research Unit in Crowborough. She commenced her MSc in Dementia Studies at University of Brighton in 2017. • 01273 873 211

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Implementation Lead for the Applied Research Collaboration
Kath Sykes

Kath Sykes is the Living well with Dementia (and healthy aging) Implementation Lead for the Applied Research Collaboration, supporting Theme Lead Dr Naji Tabet. Kath is a nurse by background, and has worked in the NHS in London and Sussex for over 20 years, leading teams and services in Cancer/Haematology and Clinical Research. Across the system Kath has worked in Quality and Patient Safety in Commissioning including Mental Health and Dementia services, and supporting spread and adoption of innovation as Tech Navigator at the AHSN. Kath also holds a Masters in Clinical Research, focusing on mixed method research. Kath is passionate about the Health and Social care system, quality improvement, supporting the development and spread of effective, proven, innovation that responds to recognised need by service users, improves the health and care outcomes of our populations, and supports our workforce. Kath is delighted to be part of the implementation team of the ARC, working with all stakeholders across Kent, Surrey and Sussex as well as nationally, and ensuring that user needs and their voice are integral to the research we do as an ARC and the solutions we seek to implement.

Esra Hassan head and shoulders photo against a blue wall

PhD student
Esra Hassan 

Esra Hassan is a PhD student at Brighton and Sussex Medical School with her research on the determinants of dementia attitudes in young people. Esra graduated from the University of Roehampton in 2017 with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology. Having completed a research internship in cognitive neuropsychology in 2016, Esra’s undergraduate research project used neuroimaging to detect cognitive biomarkers in anxiety disorders. In 2018, she graduated with an MSc in Clinical Neuroscience where her research was in molecular cancer biology (Glioblastoma multiforme). Esra was a neuroscience taster lecturer at the University of Roehampton and has been running seminars for students on neuroscience topics over the years which led to her interest in dementia research. Esra has worked closely with young people as a school governor since 2019, delivering tailored behavioral interventions to young people.

Dementia Research Unit (DRU)

Dementia Research Unit (DRU) at Sussex Partnership NHS Trust is a central element of CDS. The Unit is dedicated to research into the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and has been conducting clinical trials since 2007. An active member of DeNDRoN, the Unit aims to provide a positive experience to people taking part in research whilst investigating new possibilities for the treatment and care of those with dementia.

Making important contributions to dementia research, DRU has developed into a centre of excellence in dementia trials, with particular strengths in the successful conduct of industry sponsored studies.

Clinical Research Coordinator
Marcela Carvajal

I have worked in the Research and Development department at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust since 2015. I graduated with a degree in Psychology and 2009 and worked as an Assistant Psychologist with learning disabilities and developmental disorders. I started working with people with dementia in 2011 as a support worker in a care home and volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Society and Age UK as a befriender, visiting people in their homes and a support group facilitator for carers. I have worked in Research and Development in the NHS since 2012, coordinating feasibility and set-up, assisting with contract negotiations and governance approval processes and the delivery of commercial and non-commercial research studies in different organisations in London and Sussex.

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Team Administrator
Lynda Trumpess

Team Administrator at the Dementia Research Unit is Lynda, who is in charge of the general office administration and finance administration on the studies. Lynda has been at the DRU since 2016.  Lynda has worked in a variety of administrative roles for Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust and other organisations over a number of years, gaining a host of experience and skills.

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Clinical Research Team Leader
Natalie Portwine
Natalie joined the Dementia Research Unit in September 2017 as a Clinical Research Coordinator and in September 2019 became the Clinical Research Team Leader. Natalie is a mental health nurse and has worked in the NHS for more than 30 years, working mostly in services for older people experiencing mental health problems and in assessment and treatment for people with dementia, on inpatient wards and in the community. Natalie has worked on projects to  improve quality of life and care in care homes, including devising and delivering training programmes and was part of a small team awarded the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Dementia Team of the year in 2015. Natalie has experience in the set up and delivery of a range of dementia research studies.
Rachel Russell headshot
Clinical Research Coordinator
Rachel Russell 
Rachel is the Clinical Research Coordinator at the Dementia Research Unit.  She is a registered general nurse, who previously worked for a community NHS trust in Leeds caring for people with a wide range of health needs including dementia support.  Having an interest in clinical research she pursued postgraduate study; firstly achieving a PGCert  in Health Research at the University of Leeds, and finally completing her master's degree (MRes) through the University of Stirling distance learning programme.  Rachel has been at the Dementia Research Unit since July 2016 and has worked on a number of studies including commercial drug trials, questionnaire type research and has worked alongside researchers at the University. She is experienced in psychometric and global ratings, pharmacy dispensing and laboratory work.
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Clinical Research Coordinator
Tamsin Eperson

Tamsin graduated from Kent University with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology before going on to qualify as a Mental Health Nurse at the University of Brighton where her interest for dementia was established, having completed her dissertation on the therapeutic use of doll therapy with those with a dementia diagnosis. Following this she has worked extensively with individuals who have been diagnosed with dementia and their carers, including within multi-disciplinary community teams and on dementia inpatient wards. She joined the Dementia research unit in July 2019 and her current position as a Clinical Research Coordinator and Research nurse involves coordinating and completing various roles in commercial and non-commercial research trials. 

Sinead Clarke-O'Neil headshot

Clinical Research Coordinator
Sinead Clarke-O'Neil

Sinead joined the Dementia Research Unit in June 2019. She is a registered nurse with an MSc in Health studies and over 20 years research experience. She previously worked as a Research Fellow at UCL where her research interests included continence and skin health with a focus on elderly nursing home residents. Sinead is a new to Clinical Dementia Research and is enjoying her role as one of the Study Coordinators for the varied and interesting range of studies conducted at the unit.

Research Assistant
Elise Armsby 

Elise Armsby works as a research assistant within the Dementia Research Unit. She graduated from the University of Essex in 2015 with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology. She has since worked in several hospitals as a healthcare assistant on most psychiatric wards including a dementia specific ward, before working in research.  She wears a few different hats across the various studies running at the DRU: assisting with the physical observations and laboratory tasks in the clinical drug trials on the unit, managing referrals and carrying out assessments where appropriate. She is often so humbled by the kindness and positivity of the people interested in taking part in our research which makes the job a real pleasure.