Latest Research News

Please see below for some of the latest updates within the R&I department.

CRCF event Learner poster.pdf


CRCF event Generic poster.pdf


Professor Shanaya Rathod has been given a lifetime achievement award by Southern Health (SHFT) for her contribution to mental health research.

Shanaya, who recently retired from her role as Director of Research at SHFT, has been a CRN Wessex Specialty Lead for more than six years. We'd like to thank Shanaya for all her work and wish her all the best for the future. 

Dear All,


Please see the invite below to the Associate Principal Investigator Scheme Virtual Educational Event. Registration is open. 

We would be grateful if you could please share the information below with your colleagues who may be interested in attending the above event. Please see further details via the link below:




What is the Associate PI Scheme?

The NIHR Associate Principal Investigator (PI) Scheme links healthcare professionals who are not involved in research with a study PI at the same site for a period of 6 months.

A set of tasks relating to study management at site (SHIFT) is completed and the Associate PI is awarded a certificate on completion of the scheme for their training portfolio.

The aims of the scheme are:

  • To make research a routine part of clinical training.
  • To develop doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals to be the PIs of the future.
  • To recognise and promote doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals engagement in NIHR portfolio research in a consistent manner.

What to expect on the day

  • Information about the history of the Associate PI Scheme.
  • An overview of the Associate PI Scheme - Where we are now, and where we are heading.
  • The opportunity to hear from various perspectives - CTUs, Royal Colleges, Chief Investigators (CIs), Principal Investigators (PIs), and Alumni of the Associate PI Scheme.
  • To better understand the potential benefits of the Associate PI Scheme.
  • Guidance on how you can participate in the Associate PI Scheme.
  • The opportunity to ask questions about the Scheme.

The event is open to everyone who wishes to learn more about the Scheme and how to get involved. Therefore it would be great to have representation across specialities.


NIHR Three Research Schools

Mental Health Research Programme 2021-2024

Improving mental health and wellbeing in underserved populations through collaborative research

The three NIHR Schools are pleased to announce that they have been awarded funds for a mental health research programme. We are inviting applications for a range of activities. This document is focussed on capacity building and development. Information about research project commissioning and other activities will published before the end of September.


The NIHR Schools for Primary Care Research (SPCR), Public Health Research (SPHR) and Social Care Research (SSCR) ("three Schools") have joined together in a unique collaboration between leading academic centres in England to collaborate on two programmes of work funded through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): one on mental health hosted by SPCR and the second on dementia hosted by SSCR.

The funding will support more mental health research as an element within a broad DHSC/NIHR mental health research initiative. It will support proposals addressing a range of mental health conditions within the HRCS mental health category, including depression, schizophrenia, psychosis and personality disorders, addiction, suicide, anxiety, eating disorders, learning disabilities, bipolar disorder, autistic spectrum disorders and studies of normal psychology, cognitive function and behaviour. Research addressing an alternate HRCS code (such as HRCS neurological category, which includes dementia) are out of scope for this programme.


In order to develop a critical mass of mental health research in underserved communities it is essential to build strong capacity with the expertise and local knowledge needed to make an impact. We aim to do this by establishing:

- Bespoke fellowship scheme to develop new research capacity in key topic areas and localities in need of capacity development

- Masters/post-graduate training to increase research capability

- Dedicated service user, carer patient and public involvement and engagement expertise

- Early career research forum


To support underserved communities, we need to better understand their needs, which are likely to be complex and span traditional health and care boundaries. This will allow us to co-create research that has a greater impact on local populations. We will establish a series of workshops, attended by academics, practitioners, users, carers and patients or other experts by experience 2

from the NIHR Schools for Primary Care, Public Health and Social Care Research to identify, prioritise and design mental health research meeting the needs of underserved areas.

Workshops will be open to the broadest range of stakeholders (including non-School academic departments), providing additional networking and collaborative opportunities. Workshop findings will be published as outputs in their own right. We will work with our involvement team to ensure strong user and practice representation at the workshops. This will include people with lived experience, their families and carers, local authority, NHS, third sector, private sector, housing services, and education partners.

Workshops will prioritise topics for funding in years 2 and 3 of this proposal. When developed by the workshop team, studies will be externally peer-reviewed. Our steering committee will review the range of proposals to ensure appropriate coverage of relevant themes and geography.

Practitioner lead initiatives

Building on the success of the NIHR SPHR Public Health Practice Evaluation Scheme (PHPES) scheme we will develop a new programme addressing the challenges faced by front line health and care professionals, wherever they work: in local authority teams or other departments; in the third sector; in the private sector, or in the NHS and other social care settings.


The Three Schools aim to foster an environment of trust and co-production in mental health-related research, building on the existing involvement strategies in place within each School and following guidance and standards from NIHR.

All individual research projects will be required to have appropriate and meaningful involvement; proposals that are co-produced with relevant individuals and groups will be welcomed.

The three Schools will endeavour to develop further links, building on their extensive network of stakeholders, to support further engagement with Programme activities.








Call for applications to the Mental Health research capacity building and development programme

The application process and associated documents will be made available shortly. Applications need to be submitted by Thursday 7 October. Decisions and feedback are expected to be communicated by the end of October at the latest.

Fellowship Programme

We will appoint a new cohort of 12 career development fellows, working with underserved communities, to build capacity in topic areas that have been under-researched. This will include health and care professionals working in mental health but without a strong track record of mental health research (including but not limited to social work, nursing, midwifery, pharmacy, public health practitioners, housing providers, care home managers, paramedics) and methodologists (including social scientists, statisticians, economists and evidence synthesis experts).

Fellows will be based across School Departments to ensure they receive the academic support needed to develop a strong research career. The host organisation for Fellows will usually be based in areas identified by heat maps as being underserved (details to follow), although we encourage cross-institutional supervision and exchange placements. Awards will typically be made to those wanting to develop doctoral training opportunities and to postdoctoral academics developing a career in mental health research.

There will be support for fellows to develop a doctoral training application, further promoting academic capacity development.

Depending on professional background and research area, each Fellow will become a member of one of the NIHR Schools and be able to access the wider resource available. Fellows will also be allocated a second supervisor / mentor who is based in one of the other Schools, promoting cross-school working and awareness of the importance of cross-sector working. Each Fellow with have a personalised training budget to provide access to development activities including (and not limited to) leadership programmes and dissemination opportunities.

Funds to support a number of small ‘starter grants’ will be available giving our Fellows and early career researchers experience in leading research.

Masters Training Programme

To address the academic skills shortage in mental health research we will support several Masters/post-graduate degrees, providing the opportunity for health and social care practitioners to increase capability in research methodology. This scheme will be particularly relevant to those working in health and care who do not yet have a strong academic background but want to gain early exposure to research.

Master’s students will be allocated a mentor (who is a member of a School Department) and will be eligible to join our early career researcher forum. This scheme will fund tuition costs in participating 4

departments and support internship placements to gain further research experience. Backfill funding will be provided.

Dedicated patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE) expertise

In addition to building strong research capacity, this proposal will also build strong expertise in mental health service user, carer, patient and public involvement / community engagement.

We will establish 2 new posts to work with our existing three Schools’ involvement infrastructure and to support our research and capacity building programme. These posts will also develop wider expertise in mental health PPIE and provide the opportunity to engage in PPIE focused research activity. These posts will have a specific remit around mental health, linking with key stakeholders including patients, service users, families and carers, health and care providers, third sector and private organisations and schools. They will establish a new network which will reach out to and engage with underserved communities. They will collaborate with other parts of NIHR Infrastructure, including the Applied Research Collaborations and Clinical Research Networks (CRN), supporting the wider adoption of mental health studies to the CRN portfolio in underserved populations.

Other posts

We want to appoint an administrator to support the SPCR in the management of the three schools’ mental health research programme. The post will be 0.5FTE and available for up to 30 months.

We will require input from a communications officer to oversee the web content, social media, news items and design aspects of the programme. FTE and duration to be agreed.

We would welcome applications as a secondment opportunity for these posts. The secondment opportunities are open to all University Professional Services colleagues based in the schools’ member department. Sign off by your current line manager would be required before submitting your application.

Early career research forum

All Fellows and early career researchers will be part of an early career mental health research forum. This group will meet twice a year (either face-to-face or virtually) providing additional training opportunities, networking and dissemination activity. This group will access the on-line and face-to-face training opportunities provided by the Schools. Funding for training bursaries will be provided to allow skill development in key methodological areas (e.g. systematic reviews, quantitative research, trials).

We also plan to work with the NIHR Mental Health Incubator.

Any queries about these opportunities should be addressed to Dr Georgina Fletcher, Assistant Director, SPCR.



The Research Design Service are holding two workshops during the autumn term: the first is aimed at budding new researchers taking their first steps towards writing a grant application;

The second is the annual Fellowship Application Day, looking at the core principles of writing a good fellowship application.


Starting Research Workshop (15th September 2021)

For those who are interested in research but don’t know how to get going. This may be of particular interest to those applying for a research-related internship or pre-doctoral fellowship to start a clinical academic career. This workshop will cover:

  • What makes a good research question
  • Establishing the evidence-gap - how to do a systematic review
  • Finding funding to develop research ideas
  • Finding a supervisor or collaborators
  • Sources of support and training

Registration will open in the next few weeks. Please keep an eye on the RDS website here for registration details.


NIHR Fellowship Application Day (6th October 2021)

For those applying for a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Fellowship. The workshop covers the following NIHR schemes:

  • Doctoral Research Fellowship
  • Advanced Fellowship
  • Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship
  • Clinical Lecturer
  • Senior Clinical Lecturer


And will have sessions on:

  • The NIHR Fellowship Scheme
  • What makes a good fellowship project
  • What makes a good training and development plan
  • How to craft other important sections
  • How to present yourself well
  • What fellowship panels are looking for in an application
  • What it is like going through the application process
  • Involving patients and the public in your research

Registration will open in the next few weeks. Please keep an eye on the RDS website here for registration details.


Both events will also offer an opportunity for researchers to discuss their ideas with RDS advisers.

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust is part of the national effort to prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19.             

Whilst those efforts continue, the time is now right to work towards the restoration of a diverse and active portfolio of research.

To help initiate this process, the NIHR has developed a ‘Framework for restart’, a guidance document to support local decision-making.

As part of the framework, research active Trusts should provide clear guidance on safety issues and measures for participants and staff. This includes strict infection prevention control measures, such as reducing site traffic, maintaining social distancing, facility decontamination and screening. Southern Health has prepared the following guidance documents to help facilitate a safe resumption of clinical research:

‘Clinical Research COVID-19 Pandemic – Workplace guidance for staff’

‘Clinical Research COVID-19 Pandemic – Guidance for Resuming Clinic Visits’

This guidance will be followed in accordance with Good Clinical Practice guidelines, NIHR guidance, and UK Government guidance regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. At all times, the protocol and the guidance issued by the sponsor related to the COVID-19 pandemic, will take precedence over internal site guidance provided the safety of the participant is protected.

Please contact if you have any concerns or queries about individual studies or this R&D policy. We welcome suggestions as to how we can make the restart process as quick and effective as possible.         

Read the paper here.

Abstract: Emerging evidence has indicated a negative and disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. Previous studies have already reported that biological and social risk factors increase disease susceptibility, particularly in BAME communities. Despite frontline workers in ethnic minority communities in the United Kingdom's National Health Service attempting to quell the pandemic, disproportionate numbers of BAME physicians and other health care workers have died of COVID-19. This unprecedented situation highlights ethical and moral implications, which could further augment the impact of the pandemic on their mental health. While the government attempts to mitigate the rate of virus transmission, certain key factors inadvertently augment the negative impact of the pandemic on the mental health and general well-being of BAME communities. This study examined the available literature to explore the association between, and the wider impact of, COVID-19 on BAME communities. Furthermore, this study aims to raise awareness and provide a deeper insight into current scientific discussions.

doi: 10.2196/22581


We've recently had a paper published on the impact of COVID-19 on the mental wellbeing of healthcare staff. You can find this here.

Abstract: Pandemics are challenging times for society but even more for healthcare professionals who are supporting severe and critically ill patients with the infection as well as others that are already accessing treatments for ongoing medical problems. Hence, the mounting pressure inevitably would impact the psychological wellbeing of staff, especially frontline professionals. Whilst the dedication and commitment shown by our healthcare workers are beyond admirable, the need for their safety and right to access psychological support should be a priority for their respective employers and the government. Pandemics are trialing times for all, however, healthcare professionals' wellbeing should be a primary focus to ensure better support is available in the future.


You can find a summary of the results produced by our Service User Researcher and PPI Lead Carolyn Asher here.

To see the paper, click here.  


The materials produced for the CQC Academy to help support their education of CQC staff involved in well-led inspections are now signposted on NIHR Learn.  This allows the CRN funded research delivery workforce to better understand how CQC is positioned to look at research activities during their work.

An account through the NIHR website is needed prior to access, to create one click here

Did you take part in the PPiP study? The study team have shared a recent publication.

"We are delighted to share this paper with you published recently in the Lancet Psychiatry.  

This meta-analysis highlights the importance of the live cell-based assay used in the SINAPPS2/PPiP2 study in NMDAR antibody detection in patients with psychosis."

Paper here.

Latest Funding Opportunities 

Funding Calls - 


Wessex REACH Initiative-ECR group discussion flyer.pptx

 The HTA Programme is accepting stage 1 applications to their commissioned workstream for the following primary research topics (Australian collaborations welcome for each*):

  • 20/134 Psychological intervention for treatment resistant generalised anxiety disorder in older adults
  • Deadline for applications: 31st March 2021

*Australian Collaborations Welcome 

Australian collaborations are welcome for each of the primary research topics above.  The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) will invest up to $3 million AUD to cover the Australian component of the research projects selected for funding under these calls. NHMRC will provide funding for the Australian-based CI in accordance with standard NHMRC funding agreement and the NHMRC-NIHR Collaborative Research Grant Scheme guidelines. The value of individual grants will be pro rata based on the number of successful applications. Refer to the NHMRC website for more information. UK-only applications are also welcome.


Find out more here.

Our Public Involvement & Engagement Newsletters

Our Research Leaflet is here.

Work for Us

We have a unique opportunity currently for nurses to join our team as well as staying in their current clinical role!

We have a range of flexible options in order for you to have the best of both worlds. Although we are mainly looking for RMN we are also open to expressions of interests from other HCP's for future opportunities and vaccine research hub work. 

We would love to discuss this more with you so please get in touch with R&D manager, Dr Peter Phiri. 
Mobile: 07414560606

Read the JD here.


Accessibility tools

Return to header