Dr Carolyn Blair
Dr Carolyn Blair is an experienced Research Fellow in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), working with Professor Joanne Reid and the International, Multidisciplinary Cachexia Team led by Professor Reid.
Relevant to multimodal interventions for cachexia management, Dr Blair’s PhD was focused on eating related difficulties and family dynamics. She has extensive experience of designing, delivering and evaluating psychosocial interventions and is a qualified fitness instructor specialising in resistance training.
Dr Blair has a strong background in Personal, Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) in research, and in collaboration with Professor Reid is currently organising PPIE activities to help develop psycho-social support for patients and their caregivers in relation to renal cachexia.
Dr Blair has completed Cochrane systematic review training and has published (inc. in press): 4 systematic reviews, 3 systematic scoping reviews, 4 mixed methods studies, 3 qualitative studies, 2 participatory research studies, 2 rapid evidence reviews, 1 protocol, and a cross-sectional study.
Dr Blair is the lead researcher on a phenomenological study exploring the experiences of individuals with renal cachexia and their caregivers, and the lead researcher on a QUB/Marie Curie project exploring loneliness in terminal illness. In collaboration with Professor Reid and the International Team, Dr Blair is currently leading a novel theory of change publication related to developing an evidence and theory based multimodal integrative intervention for the management of renal cachexia.
Dr Trisha Forbes
Since the completion of her undergraduate Psychology degree in 2004, Dr Trisha Forbes has gained extensive experience as a mixed-methods researcher.
While working in various fields as a Research Assistant, Dr Forbes completed an MPhil in 2009 and the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy accredited Certificate in Person-Centred Counselling in 2010.
Dr Forbes completed her PhD in the School of Education at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) in February 2018: this was a qualitative inquiry exploring young peoples’ perceptions of suicide in an area outside West Belfast, and their feelings of connectedness to the community.
More recently Dr Forbes has worked as the Post-Doctoral Research Fellow on various projects including:
- Adapting Digital Social Prescribing for Suicide Bereavement Support
- The iAmAWARE project about mental health in the workplace
- The PETT study, a pilot RCT of talking therapies for PTSD in military Veterans
- Carers-ID, focusing on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on family carers of those with PMLD
Dr Forbes has recently joined the Renal Arts Group (RAG) and to begin work on the PAINT Project, an international mapping exercise of arts-based interventions for those with renal disease. Funded by NI Kidney Research Fund, Dr Forbes will be leading on this exercise in partnership with World Health Organization (WHO), UF Center for Arts in Medicine, Waterford Healing Arts Trust and Chong Hua Hospital, Philippines.
Dr Michael Toal
Dr Michael Toal is a Specialist Trainee in Renal Medicine and NIKRF Doctoral Fellow. Dr Toal started a PhD in Queen’s University of Belfast in August 2022.
This research project will investigate IgA Nephropathy, a leading cause of kidney failure, particularly in young people. Dr Toal is aiming to find new strategies to help to identify patients at the highest risk and allow for early treatment and prevention of disease progression. His previous projects have been presented across the UK, the Republic of Ireland and in the United States.
Dr Toal is also the team doctor for Transplant Sport NI and attended the British Transplant Games in Leeds with around thirty athletes from Northern Ireland in July 2022.
Dr Yogesh Gupta
Environmental exposures increase risk for multiple diseases, including chronic kidney disease and cancer. The modern expansion of industrialization, fossil fuel combustion and use of high amount of chemical fertilizers in agriculture has led to a rising global toxic elements pollution in air, water, and food.
Dr Yogesh Gupta’s research work aim is to identify biological signature (genetics/epigenetics) associated with toxic elements exposure such as arsenic and their effects on chronic kidney disease conditions.
Dr Laura Smyth
Dr Laura Smyth PhD BSc is a recipient of a post-doctoral research fellowship funded by the NIKRF. NIKRF have supported Laura for several years whilst she researches links between DNA methylation (an epigenetic feature linking a person’s lifestyle such as diet, medication, exercise, to inherited factors from their parents) and kidney diseases.
Laura uses data ascertained as part of the Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal study of Ageing (NICOLA), which is a large-scale population-based long-term public health study. She is maximising existing resources to cost-effectively examine multiple measures of renal function and evaluate >850,000 unique methylation sites in the genome for association with kidney disease. Using the latest technology, she aims to identify biomarkers to help earlier diagnosis and in time, be able to track how biomarkers change as kidney disease progresses.
Links to Laura’s research papers:
Dr Claire Hill
Dr Claire Hill completed her PhD in Interdisciplinary Bioscience at Oxford University in June 2021. Claire’s PhD project explored cell-communication and how these processes are disrupted during disease.
Following this, Claire started as a Research Fellow in the Molecular Epidemiology and Public Health group at QUB, led by Prof AJ McKnight. Her research project now focuses on exploring the multi-omic features of chronic kidney disease, as well as diabetic kidney disease. Multi-omics is the integrated study of numerous biological features at once, such as genetic, gene expression or protein expression changes, which together can help us understand the complex nature of kidney disease.
Claire is also interested in exploring the sex-specificities of kidney disease, to help us understand why renal decline occurs at different rates in males and females. The ultimate aim of her work is to understand the mechanisms which lead to kidney disease onset and progression, and with this deeper understanding we can develop more advanced diagnostic and therapeutic tools, taking a more personalised care approach to reduce the global impact of kidney disease.
Links to Claire’s research papers: