Meet OHFT Joint Deputy Heads of Research and Development.

Recently, we chatted with our valued colleagues Tanya Smith and Claudia Hurducas about the expansion of their roles in the R&D department.

Meet OHFT Joint Deputy Heads of Research and Development.

Both Tanya and Claudia have taken on the responsibilities and challenges in a shared role as joint Deputy Heads of Research and Development (R&D).

Claudia started working at the Trust in 2013 on Ashurst PICU ward, she joined Berkshire Healthcare NHS for a year before returning to OHFT as a research assistant and luckily for us has stayed ever since.

claudia hurducas

Claudia Hurducas

Claudia wears several “hats” within the R&D department including Clinical Research Facility (CRF) Manager; Head of Strategic Research Recruitment, Partnership and Delivery; and Deputy Head of R&D.

Commenting on her education and career progression in research, Claudia tells us “I originally trained as a Forensic Psychologist in The Netherlands, followed by a research scholarship in the USA, where I developed a passion for research (especially clinical research). Initially I worked clinically before committing to both clinical and academic research and have worked as Senior Research Assistant, Mental Health Delivery Team Lead, and Research Delivery Manager, to name a few roles. Throughout my career, I have been guided by opportunities which aligned with my interests, passions, and strengths. I enjoy being able to continue my own research, guide staff to develop themselves to their full potential, contribute to the shaping and delivery of cutting-edge research, working with colleagues to oversee the only CRF in the country funded by the NIHR specifically for mental health and collaborating with colleagues nationally to raise the profile of mental health research, whilst also maintaining my clinical skills.”

Claudia has many highlights from her research career including the publication of her first career article in 2014, delivering the Covid vaccine trial during the pandemic, securing 5-years’ worth of funding for the CRF in 2022 not to mention her most recent achievement of being appointed as Deputy Head of R&D alongside Tanya.

Tanya has an equally impressive career trajectory within OHFT dating back to 2009.

Tanya Smith

Tanya Smith

Tanya’s main interests are around data and system analysis looking at systems and the processes which feed into those systems to ensure they run smoothly and in line with Trust Information and Governance (IG).

As the Head of Research Informatics, her responsibilities are broad and encompass supporting researchers in gaining access to secure pseudonymous research data whilst also supporting the set-up of any research study which will include conducting a study in OHFT to ensure appropriate data protection and cyber security for software / device approvals are also in place.

As joint  Deputy Head of Research and Development, Tanya’s expertise in supporting researchers to implement “Data protection by design and by default” into their projects, includes support for clinical research, using informatics, big data, and digital technology and for research, the use of Clinical Record Interactive Search (CRIS), a pseudonymized clinical record database.

Since joining the NHS, Tanya has worked with both research and clinical data, on mental health and dementia research studies and has an expertise in information governance and systems analysis. She led the implementation of Clinical Record Interactive Search (CRIS) in OHFT and has led multi site collaboration projects, clinical research focus groups, conferences, seminars, and training events across the CRIS NHS network of Trusts.

Tanya told us: “I am honoured and excited to have been appointed as the joint Deputy Head of Research and Development at OHFT.  I look forward to working alongside Claudia and closely with all colleagues across R&D teams in the Trust. I believe that OHFT is at the forefront of innovation and creativity in the field of brain and mental health research, and I am eager to contribute to its growth and success. I am also looking forward to the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with some of the most talented and passionate professionals across the national research landscape. I hope to bring my experience, skills, and enthusiasm to this new role, and to support the wider R&D team in achieving our goals in delivering high-quality research into new treatments and services for our patients and public.”

We look forward to working with both Tanya and Claudia in R&D and would like to take this opportunity to congratulate them both and wish them all the very best for this next chapter.

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Published: 10 May 2024