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Plymouth Institute of Health and Care Research (PIHR) brain and mind community research focuses on the relationship between scientific discovery and the wider community. This not only includes the development, specification, and delivery of evidence-based interventions, but also the promotion of behaviours that can support health and wellbeing, both at an individual and at a group level.

Applied Parkinson's research

The Applied Parkinson’s Research G roup (Carroll, Mullin) undertakes clinical trials and studies aimed at improving the lives of those with Parkinson’s disease. The use of neuroprotective interventions has recently been explored in PD STAT, the first academic multi-centre protective Parkinson’s trial in the UK, which was co-ordinated by the Peninsula Clinical Trials Unit. The group is co-leading (with UCL) the ACT-PD consortium to develop the world’s first multi-arm, multi-stage platform for neuroprotective trials in Parkinson’s. An important element is understanding stakeholder priorities with regard to trial design (Zeissler, Carroll). A key area of research is the use of digital innovation for research and personalised care, with the use of routine data sets, imaging data, wearables and app development, working with colleagues in Centre for Health Technology and School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics.
In addition to the above Carroll led the largest study (£120k) of COVID-19 outcomes in people with Parkinson’s who were in hospital, working with the Peninsula Clinical Trials Unit (PenCTU). She is also now co-leading, with Professor Tom Foltynie (University College London) on the development of a ground-breaking platform trial which will speed up the clinical testing of drugs that might slow Parkinson’s progression – the EJS-ACT PD initiative. 

Children and young people

PIHR Brain and Mind researchers work extensively in evidence-based prevention and early intervention to improve on child psychosocial outcomes. 
They use a variety of methods, including evidence reviews, mixed methods randomised controlled trials, process evaluations and rapid cycle testing. Their interests span an equally wide range of subject areas, such as: 
  • anti-social behaviour
  • bullying
  • child maltreatment
  • early childhood development
  • social-emotional learning. 
Through these avenues, our researchers aim to develop and test effective interventions that can be implemented at scale. 
Key projects include: 
  • ADAPT, an evidence-based programme for young mothers (Axford)
  • Chance UK, a mentoring programme for 5-11 year-old children in London who are reported to be displaying challenging behaviour and emotional problems at school and at home (Axford)
  • The development of guidance for schools to best support parents' engagement in their children's learning (Axford). 
Our nursing researchers undertake a diverse range of studies, including research investigating factors that influence maternal perceptions and use of knowledge relating to their infant’s mental health (Peters); and factors enabling women to be better prepared for pregnancy (Shawe).
The institute also incorporates multi-disciplinary research into children with long term and acquired neurological conditions including Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Ataxia and Posterior Fossa Tumour (Marsden , Bunn). NIHR funded research, partnering with Alder Hey (the ASPECT trial) has acted to validate outcome measures for use in rehabilitation of balance (Bunn) and evaluate a ‘hospital to home’ exergaming intervention (collaborating across 5 NHS sites before and during the COVID19 pandemic). A large multi-disciplinary team are currently engaged in co-producing guidelines for allied health and nursing care of children with a rare neurological condition called Ataxia Telangiectasia (Bunn ).
Work within psychology has focused on the role of post traumatic stress symptoms following pregnancy and the need for ongoing support post-Partum (Baptie, Bacon, Andrade, Norman).


Banerjee is an international expert in quality of life in dementia, evaluation of new treatments and services and the interface between policy, research and practice. He led the development of the National Dementia Strategy and worked with the World Health Organisation to make dementia a global priority in its Global Action Plan. He recently secured a 4.7m grant from the ERSC and NIHR will explore definitively for the first time inequalities and inequities in dementia care and is the co-investigator (with Miranda) of RadioMe, a £2.7 million project using artificial intelligence to adapt and personalise live radio, with the aim of transforming the lives of people living alone with dementia.
Sherriff is Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia at the University and works widely in advocacy for dementia-friendly communities, having built up significant networks with people with dementia and their carers and families, volunteers, politicians, journalists, academics and health and social care professionals. Sherriff, Warren and Tur ner, as founder members of the Prime Ministers Dementia Challenge Group for Air Transport bring together people living with dementia, their caregivers, aircrew trainers, policy makers, and researchers. This has led to a growing international collaboration IDAir, which is a virtual group that focuses on improving the travel experiences of people living with dementia and their care givers globally through innovative projects, sharing best practice and research.
The Community and Primary Care Research Group  (led by Byng) ae undertaking the Dementia - Person Aligned Care Team (D-PACT) programme which aims to develop and evaluate a system for dementia support based on general practice for people living with dementia and their carers. 
Within the Dietetics, Human Nutrition and Health group, Louise Mole (nee Wilkinson) has been researching how to meet the nutritional needs of people living in their own homes with dementia. Read more about her research
The Dental Pain and Dementia in Care Homes project, is a collaboration between PIHR researchers (Schofield, McColl, Witton, Thomas) and researchers at Cornell University, Hong Kong Polytechnique and the University of Western Australia involving dentists in the UK, USA and Australia. This internally funded project has already resulted in significant changes in dental care within local care homes and the setting-up of a Care Home Special Interest Group to influence care home research going forward.

Digital health

The Centre for Health Technology's Professor Edward Meinert has been working with the Applied Parkinson's Research Group on digital innovations to help monitor and manage Parkinson's disease. This includes a Parkinson's UK funded project to develop a non-motor symptom app for smartphones, tablets and PCs. 

Eye and Vision research

The Eye and Vision research group has also developed a wide range of diagnostic and treatment approaches, including Myopia (Buckhurst), Ocular Biomechanics (Buckhurst), Visual Psychophysics (Artes, Joshi, Schmidtmann), Ageing and Vascular Health (Mroczkowska, Szostek) and Refractive Surgery (Aguila-Carrasco, Oehring).

Intellectual disability

Formally launched in October 2018 and led by Professor Rohit Shankar, The Cornwall Intellectual Disability Equitable Research (CIDER), is a partnership between the University of Plymouth and Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CFT) focusing on people with intellectual disabilities. The activity of the partnership ranges from research right through to policy development (working with NHS England, local authorities and NHS Trusts), training and co-production. Current work includes research on comorbid intellectual disability and epilepsy, including sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP).

Promoting mental and physical health and well-being

This is an important focus for the Community and Primary Care Research Groupwho are particularly involved in addressing socio-economic inequalities in mental health (around 66% of people with mental health disorders live in poverty and isolation and only 12% are employed). 
Projects include: 
  • Partners 2, a programme that has developed a system of collaborative care, based in GP surgeries for people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (Byng)
  • Engager, a novel intervention for offenders with common mental health problems, near to and after release (Byng
  • DEStress, a project examining the medicalisation of mental distress caused by material deprivation and social disadvantage (Byng
  • Strengthen, a project examining whether additional support via Health Trainers is effective in improving the health behaviours and wellbeing of people receiving community supervision (Taylor)
  • PHASED: a systematic review of physical activity for alcohol and substance use disorders (Thompson)
  • Flourish in Nature, a project supporting 140 people in their alcohol and drug use recovery journey by providing opportunities as volunteers in natural environments (Thompson)
  • e-CoachER, a multi-centred randomised controlled trial investigating the impact of web-based coaching on health-enhancing physical activity for patients with chronic physical and mental health conditions (Taylor). 
The TARs study, has examined the effects of behavioural support (delivered by Health Trainers) targeting physical activity and smoking reduction, for smokers not wishing to quit, on various outcomes including six month biochemically verified prolonged abstinence (Taylor, Thompson, Callaghan, Horrell). Much of the Group’s research on social prescribing also explores how patients with mental health needs may benefit from being connected to community resources, information and social activities, as well as linking people to a range of statutory and non-statutory agencies (Husk, Elston, Gradinger, Hazeldine, Westlake, Callaghan, Warren, Beaulieu). 
Bacon and Hyland have conducted extensive studies looking at the long term physical and psychosocial impact of fibromyalgia, while Norman has looked at psychosocial functioning in those with pituitary conditions and adults with a range of visible differences. This work has included the development of an online intervention to address the appearance-related psychosocial impact of living with visible difference.


An important focus of PIHR research is to support the development of evidence-based interventions and practice. Within brain and mind research, this includes the work of the Rehabilitation research group, members of whom develop and test interventions to support the recovery, maintenance of function and prevention of avoidable complications in people who have resolving conditions such as stroke (Marsden, Demain), and those whose condition is long-term, static or deteriorating such as multiple sclerosis (Marsden, Gunn, Freeman, Demain) and Parkinson’s disease (Carroll, Marsden, Demain). 

Further rehabilitation work focuses on those post brain injury living within community settings and supporting their long-term biological, psychological, and social needs (Norman).

Patient with Parkinson's. At home care giver

Applied Parkinson's Research Group

The Applied Parkinson’s Research Group, led by Dr Camille Carroll, focuses on clinical trials of neuroprotective interventions in Parkinson’s, digital innovation for care and research, and genetic aspects of Parkinson’s.