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Brighton & Sussex Medical School



Team directory a-z

Research Fellow
Georgia Bell

Georgia Bell is a Research Fellow working on the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) KSS Living Well with Dementia theme. Based at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, her work focuses on loneliness and social isolation. Her PhD explored the utility of primary care psychological therapies for dementia risk reduction and treatment of depression and anxiety in people living with dementia.

A profile photo of Lavinia Bertini, wearing a black and pink top next to a poster on a display board

Research Fellow
Dr Lavinia Bertini  

Lavinia’s research interests are situated within critical medical anthropology, critical public health, social justice and applied qualitative research. Her research interrogates the social reproduction of identity linked to health, class, gender, and age in public health and health and social care policy and practice. Her research interests include health inequities in policy and practice; infection control in adult social care settings; food-related interventions in public health and social care; fatphobia and weight-stigma in public health and healthcare.

Research Assistant
Emily Budden 

Emily Budden is a Research Assistant on the DETERMIND project. Having previously worked in a business setting and completing her BSc (Hons) Marketing and Management with Psychology, she graduated from the University of Sussex with an MSc in Experimental Psychology in 2022. Emily joined the DETERMIND team following completion of her MSc in 2022 and has also had experience working as a Clinical Research Coordinator in Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust's mental health team during this time. Emily's research interests include improving inequalities in care and quality of life for those living with dementia and further understanding risk factors for dementia; an area in which she hopes to undertake a PhD in the future.

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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. 

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Reader 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. 

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Research Assistant
Yvonne Feeney 

Yvonne is the Project Manager for Time for Dementia and supports Universities in the implementation and delivery of the programme. Yvonne is based at the Centre for Dementia Studies at Brighton and Sussex Medical School and is also currently completing a Ph.D. that aims to understand the development of empathy towards people with dementia in undergraduate healthcare students. Yvonne is a Registered Adult Nurse and has worked at the Centre for Dementia Studies as part of the research team since 2016. She completed her MSc in Dementia Studies at Brighton and Sussex Medical School in 2019. Her research interests include improving the quality of life for people with dementia, and the role education plays in improving understanding and attitudes toward dementia. 

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Research Fellow
Molly Hebditch

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.  

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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. 

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. 

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Dr Claire Lancaster

Dr Claire Lancaster is a lecturer in the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Brighton & Sussex Medical School, with a background in Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience. Claire’s research investigates the impact of carrying a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease - the APOE e4 gene variant, on cognition, brain function and structure across the lifespan, and whether we can mitigate the detrimental effects of this gene pharmacologically. In addition, Claire is interested in how our genes interact with wider health (e.g., menopause) and lifestyle factors to influence trajectories of brain ageing. She uses methods including digital and in-person cognitive assessments, neuroimaging and drug interventions in her work.
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NIHR and Wellcome International Intermediate Fellow
Akin Ojagbemi

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.

Research Fellow
Dr Sarah Polack

Dr Sarah Polack is a research fellow with the NIHR-Applied Research Collaboration Kent, Surrey, Sussex (ARC-KSS) ‘Living Well with Dementia’ theme. Sarah’s current research is on the well-being of people with dementia who live on their own, with a focus on underserved coastal communities. She is exploring access to support and social interaction for people dementia who live alone in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, through interviews with people with lived experience and service providers as well as systematic reviews on dementia and social isolation. She is also interested in how to strengthen inclusion of underserved populations in dementia research. Sarah completed her PhD in 2008 at the London school of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine where she has since worked on a range of mixed-methods research projects related to disability-inclusion in the global south.

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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. 

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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 Time for Dementia 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. • 07787 272 308

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Research Fellow
Dr Nicola Schmidt-Renfree 

Nicola is currently working as a Research Fellow on two research projects: The VIVALDI-ASCOT project on Quality of Life in Residential Homes which investigates the impact of prevention measures during outbreaks of covid-19 or other respiratory infections, and the Dementia Risk Prediction project which investigates aspects of the uses of a dementia risk prediction tool in Primary Care.

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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.

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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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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.

Research Assistant
Dani Thorn

Dani Thorn  Dani is the research assistant on the NoDem Study, based at the Centre for Dementia Studies at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. This research looks at the practices, attitudes and outcomes of patients that do not receive a dementia diagnosis at a memory assessment service. This work is important to improve processes and better support people that have expressed memory problems, but do not get a dementia diagnosis. She is also assisting with the start-up of the CO-COG study: a co-designed app for people diagnosed with mild-to-moderate cognitive impairment, which allows people to monitor and self-report health and wellbeing indicators. This study will test the accessibility and usefulness of the app in the target population. Dani completed her BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Science at the University of Birmingham in 2021 and has since worked on a number of trials as a research assistant. 

Honorary and associated staff

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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 was the Department of Health for England’s senior professional advisor on dementia and led the development of its National Dementia Strategy. Professir Banerjee is actiely involved in the Time for Autism programme at BSMS. 

PHD Students

PhD student
Amaani A-Azzawi

Amaani A-Azzawi  is an NIHR ARC funded Doctoral Researcher in the Centre for Dementia Studies, and has previously completed an undergraduate BSc in Psychology (2021) and a postgraduate Msc in Clinical Psychology in Mental health (2022). Amaani has completed dissertations in Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC), including exploring late-in-life diagnosis and a literature review identifying the need for bespoke ASC interventions. Outside of academia, Amaani has professional experience in psychiatric care services, as an Autism intervention specialist in mainstream secondary education and learning disability services. Amaani has interests in neurodivergence across the lifespan, psychosis and ageing well. Specifically, Amaani is conducting a PhD in the topic of Hallucinatory experiences in people living with dementia, with the aim to adapt a non-pharmacological intervention for reducing the distress of hallucinations, to be suitable for the dementia population and their carers; This will be explored through qualitative work, a clinical feasibility trial and a large multi-site quantitative survey.

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PhD student
Bria Browne 

Bria Browne is a registered nurse with a background in dementia care. She is now completing a PhD at the Centre for Dementia Studies at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. After completing her Adult Nursing undergraduate degree at Kingston University, Bria undertook a master’s degree in Population Health at University College London. In relation to Bria’s clinical experience, she focused her master’s research project on how end of life is defined in people living with dementia, which was subsequently published in the Palliative Medicine Journal in 2021.Bria’s research interests include improvements in quality of life and palliative care in dementia. She is currently investigating the determinants of multiple acute hospital admissions for older people with dementia. Bria will be identifying patterns of characteristics within electronic hospital records of older people with dementia, that may contribute to recurrent hospital admissions. She will then gain the perspectives, attitudes and experiences from family carers and hospital staff regarding hospital readmissions within older people with dementia. Bria’s PhD will aim to provide a holistic understanding of the complex problem of why older people with dementia have recurrent hospital admissions, with future suggestions to reduce this problem. Bria’s supervisors are Professor Naji Tabet and Dr Khalid Ali.

PhD student
John Hammond

John Hammond is a former carer for a parent who lived with Alzheimer’s disease.  He has worked as both the Head of Services and Acting CEO at Brighton and Hove LGBTQ Switchboard.  Whilst there, he led on a Royal Society for Public Health award-winning project that provides peer support opportunities for LGBTQ+ people living with dementia.  He is also a core member of the LGBTQ+ Dementia Advisory Group Community Interest Company. John has been a public theme adviser in dementia studies at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and at the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).  He has also worked on several co-production projects, such as the creation of an animation to raise awareness of quality of life priorities for people living with HIV and cognitive challenges, and resources to support LGBTQ+ inclusive practices in residential care settings. After completing his MSc at BSMS in May 2023, John became a PhD student at BSMS in October 2023.  He receives funding from a University of Brighton PhD studentship award.  John’s PhD research will use Photovoice to explore the experiences of LGBTQ+ people living with dementia.

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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.

PhD student
Dr Ain Nizam

Dr Ain Nizam is currently undertaking a part-time PhD in dementia, diabetes, and mental health under the supervision of Prof Naji Tabet, Dr Dorina Cadar and Prof Jorg Huber. Her research aims to investigate the effects of pre-existing type 2 diabetes and dementia on the way people present to the memory clinic, their diagnosis, outlook, mental health, and carer support. Her project involves a feasibility observational study of people with dementia and diabetes based at the Dementia Research Unit at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SPFT), as well as the use of the Clinical Records Interactive Search System (CRIS). CRIS is managed by Akrivia Health, which securely holds pseudo-anonymised data on Carenotes, the electronic patient health record system used by SPFT, for research purposes. Dr Nizam is also a part-time General and Old Age Psychiatry higher specialist trainee working in the NHS.


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.

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.

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Research Assistant
Caroline Connell 

Caroline is a research assistant for the DREAMS START trial at the Dementia Research Unit. She graduated from Roehampton university in 2012 with a BSc (Hons) in psychology, and in 2019 she  graduated with an MSc in clinical and cognitive neuroscience.

Before working in research, Caroline worked as a dementia advisor and also worked in a sleep disorders clinic. As well as recruiting for DREAMS START she has recently started to deliver the intervention to participants. Caroline has really enjoyed using this time to get to know people better and feeling as though she is helping in a small way.

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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. - 01892 603017

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Clinical Research Team Leader
Natalie Portwine

Natalie joined the Dementia Research Unit in 2017 initially as a Clinical Research Coordinator and then Clinical Research Team Lead. Natalie is a mental health nurse and has worked in the NHS for more than 30 years, working in a range of services for older people experiencing mental health problems and in the assessment and treatment for people living 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 extensive experience in the set up and delivery of clinical research studies, both commercial and non-commercial. - 01892 603107/ 0300 304 1423

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Clinical Research Coordinator 
Katy Seedhouse

Katy Seedhouse is a registered adult nurse who has enjoyed a wide variety of professional experiences over recent years, through which she has developed a keen interest for dementia. Katy joined the research team at the Dementia Research Unit in 2022 and is passionate about recognising and celebrating individuality and supporting those living with dementia to live life to the full. In her role as Clinical Research Nurse, Katy is currently coordinating the COBALT Clinical Trial, as well as undertaking various tasks relating to other commercial and non-commercial research studies at the Dementia Research Unit. - 01892 603107

Clinical Research Coordinator
Sarah Edgar

Sarah qualified as a Mental Health nurse from Guys & St Thomas's, London in 1996 where her interest for dementia was established working within the older adult inpatient wards with patients who had either a functional or dementia diagnosis. She has worked within the NHS for nearly 28 years and more recently within the community Dementia Crisis Service supporting patients and their carers working closely with other disciplines to ensure a holistic approach. Sarah joined the Dementia Research Unit in October 2022 as a Clinical Research Coordinator/nurse which involves coordinating and completing various roles in commercial and non-commercial research trials. - 01892 603107

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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.