Women who enable research across Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust

International Women's Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality.

Women who enable research across Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust

IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere and is celebrated this year today, 8 March.

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust (OHFT) is a leading organisation in delivering high-quality research that improves the lives of people with brain and mental health conditions. It is the host to the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre (OH BRC), the Mental Health Translation Research Collaboration which also leads on Phase 1 funding for the Mental Health Mission. Research at OHFT is enabled by a dedicated and skilled team of research staff who work across different roles and settings.

In recognition of International Women’s Day, we highlight three staff members who enable research efforts across OHFT: Wendy Hurst, a clinical research assistant with the Mental Health Research and Delivery Team (MH RDT); Professor Cathy Henshall, the co-director of the NIHR Oxford Health Clinical Research Facility (OH CRF); and Amanda Colston, senior research nurse and team lead at the OH CRF.

Wendy Hurst: Clinical Research Assistant, Mental Health Research Delivery Team

w hurst

Wendy Hurst

Wendy Hurst joined OHFT in 2016 as a support worker on an acute female forensic ward at Littlemore hospital. Whilst there she recognised the importance of research and how we need to strive for better treatments for those people who are experiencing mental ill health. Wendy’s career in mental health research began and she started working in a research position at the OH CRF which supports the delivery of mental health research across the Trust. Wendy’s current role in the Mental Health Research Delivery Team (MH RDT) involves the recruitment for, as well as the delivery of, clinical trials. She enjoys working in research because it allows her to combine her academic interests with her passion for helping people.

She says: “I love being part of a team that is working towards improving the lives of people with mental health problems. I find it extremely rewarding to see the positive impact that research can have on participants and their families. I also like the variety and challenge of working on different studies and learning new skills along the way.”

Professor Cathy Henshall: NMAHP Research Lead at OHFT

Prof Cathy Henshall

Prof Cathy Henshall

Professor Cathy Henshall holds a personal Professorship in Nursing at Oxford Brookes University, is Nursing Midwifery and Allied Health Professional (NMAHP) Research Lead at OHFT, working jointly jointly across the two organisations as a clinical academic. Cathy also holds a national role as  Associate Director of Nursing and Midwifery at the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

Cathy has worked in various clinical and academic nursing roles across the UK. She has extensive experience in leading and conducting research, as well as in  supervising postgraduate students and early career researchers. She is passionate about supporting the NMAHP workforce to develop the relevant skills to lead, deliver and support research and about translating research evidence into practice to improve patient care outcomes.

She says: “I am very proud to be part of OHFT’s R&D efforts where a variety of cutting-edge research, particularly in mental health, takes place. I enjoy working with a fantastic team of research staff, clinicians, and academics, who are all committed to delivering research that makes a difference to people’s lives.”

Amanda Colston: Senior Research Nurse and Team Lead

Amanda Colston

Amanda Colston

Amanda Colston is the senior research nurse and team lead of the OH CRF, a role that involves leading and managing a team of research nurses and clinical research practitioners who deliver a portfolio of studies in mental health. Amanda is also responsible for ensuring the quality and safety of the research activities within the OH CRF, as well as developing and maintaining good relationships with researchers, funders, and other stakeholders. Amanda also provides clinical expertise and support to the research staff and participants, as well as contributing to the design and delivery of research studies.

Amanda has a background in nursing and has specialised in mental health and dementia care. She has worked in various clinical and research settings, including acute wards, community teams, and memory clinics. She has also been involved in several national and international research projects, such as the CELIA trial, which is looking at whether a drug called BIIB080 can help people with Alzheimer’s Disease, how safe it is, and how the body handles taking it (known as tolerability). She is committed in her efforts to improve understanding and practice of mental health and dementia care and involving and empowering people in research.

She says: “I love working in the OH CRF, which is a dynamic and stimulating environment that supports high-quality and innovative research. I enjoy working with a diverse and talented team of research staff, who are all dedicated to delivering research that matters to people. I also enjoy working with participants and their families, who are at the heart of everything we do.”

OHFT celebrates all staff that enable research across the Trust and would like to thank them for their continued efforts in making OHFT a national centre of excellence for brain and mental health research.

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Published: 8 March 2024