Project team

The embedded research project is led by Martin Marshall and includes leading researchers, practitioners and service users.

Huw Davies

Originally a mathematician before working in public health and health services research, Huw Davies is Professor of Health Care Policy and Management at The School of Management, the University of St Andrews, and Co-Director of the Research Unit for Research Utilisation. Huw researches public service delivery, with a particular emphasis on the role of research-based evidence.

“Many public services (including health care) struggle to deliver a consistent, high-quality and safe service within tight resource constraints. Research-based evidence is one valuable resource that can be used to improve services for the betterment of patient care, but in general it is underutilised. For example, we know that research evidence does not travel well; and we also know that research evidence does not speak for itself. If we are to get a better articulation between research-based knowledge and service delivery, then we have to find improved ways of bringing research more into the conversations that animate service delivery.
“Embedding researchers in healthcare commissioning, healthcare management and front-line services is one interesting way of doing this, with many examples having sprung up across the NHS. We need to know more about why these approaches are seen as beneficial, how they play out in practice, and how any benefits from the approach can be maximised.”

Naomi Fulop

Naomi Fulop is Professor of Health Care Organisation and Management in the Department for Applied Health Research, UCL, and Visiting Professor at King’s College London. She is an internationally renowned health services researcher with expertise in applying organisational and social perspectives, using qualitative and mixed methods, to understand change and improvement in health care at all levels.

She is also co-director of a rapid evaluation team studying service innovations in the NHS. She co-led the UCLH embedded research team, and now leads an embedded research project at the Royal Free London.
She is the elected Chair of Health Services Research UK, a national network bringing together those who produce and use health services research to improve policy and practice.

Naomi recently led two large-scale studies of major system change: one on acute stroke services in London and Greater Manchester, and the other on the reorganisation of cancer surgery across London Cancer and Manchester Cancer.

Kate Kirk

Kate Kirk is a Research Fellow based in the Health Services Management Centre at the University of Birmingham, and is also a qualified nurse. Her role on the Embedded Research project is around data collection and analysis. She will be visiting various case study sites across the UK, exploring the work of embedded researchers through both observation and interviews. 

Kate’s research interests relate to organisational behaviour in health care, implementation science, emotional work and emotional labour, health care workforce and wellbeing. 

“I feel incredibly excited to be involved with this project. The embedded researcher role has huge potential for health care delivery and evidenced based care – bridging the crucial gap between academia and practice.”

Martin Marshall

Martin Marshall is Professor of Healthcare Improvement at UCL in the Department of Primary Care and Population Health, Programme Director for Population Health and Primary Care at UCLPartners, Chair Elect and Vice Chair (External Affairs) of the Royal College of General Practitioners, and a GP in Newham, East London. 

Previously he was Director of Research and Development at the Health Foundation, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England and Director General in the Department of Health, a clinical academic at the University of Manchester, and a Harkness Fellow in Healthcare Policy. 

He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London and of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine.  He has over 220 publications in the field of quality improvement and health service redesign. His primary academic interest is in maximising the impact of research on practice. In 2005 he was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for Services to Health Care.

Liz Mear
Dr Liz Mear is Chief Executive of the Innovation Agency, the Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast. The Innovation Agency supports the health and care sector to adopt innovations and acts as a broker with industry partners who have technologies and other products to benefit health and care organisations.

Liz was Chief Executive of The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust and has been a director in an acute NHS Trust, a mental health NHS foundation trust and an ambulance trust. She has also worked in local government and as a senior management consultant. Liz is an External Director of the Northern Health Science Alliance and of Liverpool Local Enterprise Partnership;  a Non-Executive Director for Health Education England; and is the past Chair of both the national AHSN Network and Cheshire and Merseyside Comprehensive Local Research Network.
“The health and care service changes very quickly, as it responds to political and societal demands. This can sometimes mean that traditional research methods and findings quickly become outdated and are not relevant to planning future services nor making an impact on future practice. An embedded researcher or research team has the potential to gain real insight into how a service actually works and can also support a frontline team, in a very practical way, by feeding in relevant pieces of research to improve their day-to-day work.”
Breid O’Brien
Breid is Director of Digital Transformation at the Health Innovation Network, the Academic Health Science Network for South London. Prior to this she was an independent improvement advisor working with NHS organisations to improve care delivery. She has an extensive healthcare background spanning the NHS, the UK private sector and the Australian healthcare system.
With a background as a nurse specialising in emergency care, she has held senior operational management roles in acute healthcare organisations, before moving to system level roles for the NHS in both strategy and healthcare informatics. She is especially interested in utilising research and evidence-based improvement science to support technology enabled change management.
Breid previously worked at UCLH as Deputy Director of Quality Efficiency and Productivity and Head of Urgent Care Transformation. She was the Trust’s lead, responsible for the set up and ongoing support of the embedded research team in collaboration with UCL colleagues.
“I am passionate about ensuring frontline staff are supported to deliver high quality care. Enabling academics and frontline NHS staff to work together will ensure we develop the evidence base to support improvement initiatives and allow us to identify improvement opportunities earlier and scale up proven initiatives faster.”
Richard Parnell
Richard is a social scientist who has worked in the charity sector for more than 25 years. His work in policy and research includes appointments with Scope (a disability charity for children and adults) and TACT (charity providing fostering and adoption services).
Richard has been involved in the NIHR for nine years as: a lay reviewer for the BMJ, a member of various research funding boards (EME, i4i, Research for Public Benefit, and the Oxford CLAHRC) and a member of the trial steering group for the ATTACK study.
Additionally, Richard is an associate lecturer for the Open University and director of a multi academy trust.
Benet Reid
Benet researches health practices and discourses, health knowledge production, health politics and social theory. He has trained in the study of Natural Sciences, Physiotherapy and Sociology. His role on the embedded project is to analyse literature on knowledge co-production and create a typology of concepts and approaches in this area.

“I see great potential in embedded research and knowledge co-production for progressing the development and understanding of health practices. Having analysed other discourses of health knowledge at length, I am convinced of the need to understand the implications of these ideas in the greatest possible depth, if their full value is to be realised.”
Tricia R Tooman

Tricia is a Research Fellow focusing on the principles and practices of Embedded and Researcher-in-Residence work found in the academic literature. She is a health services researcher with an education and curriculum design background.

Additional research interests focus on the interconnection of teams and networks within complex systems for knowledge mobilisation.

“Embedded work is essentially a way to connect researchers and practitioners. With it comes the potential for rich collaboration for robust research grounded in real world issues, and thus provides the opportunity to make a real difference for patients as well as public health and wellbeing.
“For the first time, the Embedded Researcher project is exploring the diverse array of embedded projects already in place alongside the academic literature so that we can better understand how these initiatives work and can benefit our health services.”

Vicky Ward

Vicky is Reader in Management at the University of St Andrews. She has spent the last 10 years researching aspects of knowledge mobilisation and knowledge sharing across the health and social care sector, with a particular focus on how diverse groups of people (including healthcare practitioners, managers and researchers) create and share knowledge with each other.

She has led NIHR-funded research on knowledge creation among health and wellbeing managers, and collaborative relationships between academics and NHS managers. Between 2014 and 2017 she held an NIHR Knowledge Mobilisation Research Fellowship which involved supporting health and social care practitioners to share knowledge with each other.
Vicky has a passion for bringing people working in knowledge mobilisation together. She currently leads the UK Knowledge Mobilisation Forum, an annual two-day event for knowledge mobilisation researchers and practitioners.

“Knowledge is an incredibly valuable resource with the power to transform how healthcare services are organised and delivered. This transformation can only be realised if knowledge from different sources is shared and combined, but too often it remains in silos with researchers and practitioners struggling to share their knowledge and insights with one another.”

“Embedding researchers in health service settings can help to address this issue by blurring the boundaries between research and practice. While embedded research is an exciting approach, we need to know more about the role, intentions and practices of embedded researchers and to ensure that those embarking on embedded research initiatives are clear about the options open to them and their potential effectiveness.”

Justin Waring

Justin Waring is Professor of Organisational Sociology at the University of Nottingham. His research investigates the management of change within healthcare systems, looking in particular at the social, cultural and political dynamics of change. Much of his research has been concerned with the translation and implementation of new ideas, evidence and theories, and how the processes of knowledge creation, translation and use influences innovation and learning. 
“The Embedded project is important because it will shed new light on an innovative mode of knowledge co-production that has become increasingly common in healthcare systems, but we have limited evidence of how embedded researchers work, the challenges they face or how they might support the creation and use of new knowledge.”