Our team...

The IMPROVE trial is led by Professor Patrick White, an academic GP with a longstanding interest in COPD and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

Our team...

The IMPROVE trial is led by Professor Patrick White, an academic GP with a longstanding interest in COPD and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

Core research team

These are the people who oversee the day-to-day running of the trial.

Professor Patrick White

Chief Investigator

  • Read more...

    Patrick is a Professor of Primary Care Respiratory Medicine in the Department of Population Health Sciences at King’s College London. He was formerly a GP in south London. Patrick developed the PR-buddy intervention with Gill Gilworth and a COPD Patient and Public Involvement Group in south London. His research interests are focussed on the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in primary care. Patrick is particularly interested in the use of lay health workers in improving uptake of treatment, over-prescription of medications for COPD, and the diagnosis of obstructive lung disease.

    Read more on the King’s website

Dr Gill Gilworth

Senior Research Fellow

  • Read more...

    A physiotherapist by training, Gill worked on the initial feasibility study along with Patrick White. After 5 years at King’s College London, she has recently returned to live in West Yorkshire, where she will head the Leeds office for the IMPROVE trial. Gill is based in the Academic Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Leeds.

    Experienced in qualitative methods and the process evaluation of complex interventions Gill will take the lead in the qualitative aspects of the process evaluation for the trial. Gill is also leading the development of training resources. Gill is a committed supporter of patient and public involvement (PPI) in research and will liaise with the patient advisory group supporting the IMPROVE trial.

Mr Toby Morgan

Trial Manager

  • Read more...

    Toby has a particular interest in clinical trials that aim to improve outcomes and quality of life for patients with chronic diseases. He has previously set up or worked on over 30 different clinical trials in his previous roles at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute of Cancer Research. Toby’s role in the IMPROVE trial includes ensuring that the trial is run smoothly at all sites, and that it is conducted according to ethical and regulatory guidelines.

Miss Natalie King

Research Assistant – London

  • Read more...

    Natalie completed a BA Biological Sciences at the University of Oxford before graduating from her MPH Public Health at the University of Sheffield, with distinction, in 2022. She is interested in health policy, particularly relating to human health and the natural environment, emerging diseases, and the application of BCTs to reduce the burden of chronic disease. She has previously designed and conducted research on Covid-19, international health inequality, and nature-health interactions. Natalie will co-lead the delivery of training to PR-staff in the sites setting up PR-buddy service in the IMPROVE trial alongside Gill Gilworth. She will also assist with trial design, logistics, data collection and analysis throughout the trial.

Dr Jessica Kawalek

Research Assistant – Leeds

  • Read more...

    Jess completed her PhD in counselling within education at the University of Manchester. Since then, she has worked at the University of Leeds on a number of research projects including randomised control trials in the NHS, focussing on qualitative research methods. Jess has also worked in a care setting as a mental health support worker. This involved supporting individuals with learning disabilities and mental health needs. Her interests lie in quality-of-life research. Jess has published a number of papers in the field of psychology and enjoys writing. She joined the research team for the IMPROVE trial in January 2023.

Mrs Alison Dickson

Trial Administrator - London

  • Read more...

    Alison has over 20 years administrative and finance experience and spent 17 years working in health research at Swansea University’s Medical School, with a particular interest in mental health and wellbeing. She completed her MSc in Management during this time. Alison has recently moved to London and joined the research team for the IMPROVE trial in June 2023. She will provide administrative support for the team.

With thanks to previous staff who have worked on the trial:

Dr Kate Harris

Health Psychology Research Associate

Mr Richard Turner

Research Assistant - London

Trial management group

While the core research team will be largely responsible for conducting the trial on the ground, the Trial Management Group is responsible for the overall management of the trial. Most are also co-applicants on the grant that is funding the IMPROVE trial.

Dr Salma Ayis

  • Read more...

    Salma is a senior lecturer in Medical Statistics in the School of Life Course & Population Sciences, King’s College London. Experienced in the design and analysis of experimental and observational studies, her research interests include the application of advanced statistical and econometrics techniques to explore prognostic factors in long term health conditions. Her role in the IMPROVE trial will concern elements of study design, sample size calculation, statistical expertise and data management.

Professor Julia Fox-Rushby

  • Read more...

    Julia is Professor of Health Economics in the School of Life Course and Population Sciences, King’s College London, where she is in charge of health economics and leads the Papworth Trials Unit Collaboration. Her clinical trial work has included studying how physical activity can be used to improve health. Julia specialises in improving the way economic evaluations are undertaken and is particularly interested in improving the ways in which health is measured and valued. She will design and supervise health economic modelling for the IMPROVE trial.

Dr Ka Keat Lim

  • Read more...

    Ka Keat Lim is a health economist with a background in pharmacy, who currently works as a research fellow in Health Economics in the Department of Population Health Sciences, King’s College London. He enjoys learning from and working with patients, clinicians, and policy makers in using health economics to improve population health, especially among older adults and those living with chronic conditions. Ka Keat will work with Professor Julia Fox-Rushby on the economic evaluation which will be conducted as part of the IMPROVE trial.

Dr Emma Godfrey

  • Read more...

    Emma is a Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology at King’s College London. She is a HCPC registered practitioner psychologist. Emma is particularly interested in developing interventions to support behaviour change and training Health Care Professionals in psychologically informed interventions. She is a core member of the Trial Management Group for IMPROVE, employing her research experience to select and assess theory and behaviour change techniques, which underpin the PR-buddy training and intervention in this trial.

Les Hamilton

  • Read more...

    Les has over 6 years experience advising on COPD related research from a patient perspective. He has served on steering groups for other research, participated in a national stakeholder meeting for the NIHR-funded PACE study, and is a member of the Patient Advisory/Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) group for COPD research at the department of Population Health Sciences, King's College London. As someone living with COPD, he has first-hand experience with pulmonary rehabilitation and knows how effective it can be at improving patients’ quality of life. Les will serve as the IMPROVE trial’s patient advisor on the trial management group.

Professor Nicholas Hopkinson

  • Read more...

    Nick is based at The National Heart and Lung Institute of Imperial College on the Royal Brompton Hospital Campus in London. His research, which has been funded by the MRC, The NIHR, The Wellcome Trust, Asthma + Lung UK and The Moulton Foundation, focuses on addressing exercise and activity limitation in COPD in areas including pulmonary physiology and lung volume reduction, skeletal muscle impairment and pulmonary rehabilitation. He is active in tobacco control advocacy and is Chair of Action on Smoking and Health ASH(UK), as well as Medical Director of Asthma + Lung UK, and @COPDdoc on Twitter. Nick is an expert in pulmonary rehabilitation and one of our trialists.

Professor Simon Lewin

  • Read more...

    Simon is Professor of Health Management and Health Systems in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Norwegian University of Science and Technology. He has a keen interest in how research evidence can be used to strengthen health systems, and his methodological interests include approaches for undertaking systematic reviews of complex health system interventions, methods for synthesizing the findings of multiple qualitative studies, and methods for assessing confidence in such findings. Simon is the Joint Co-ordinating Editor of Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care (EPOC); a Coordinator of the GRADE-CERQual Project Group; and sits on a number of WHO Advisory Committees. He joins us in the IMPROVE Trial as an expert in Lay Health Worker interventions and outcomes.

Dr Arietta Spinou

  • Read more...

    A Lecturer in Cardiorespiratory Physiotherapy Practice and Research at King’s College London, Arietta has extensive clinical experience as a senior and specialist respiratory physiotherapist in pulmonary rehabilitation and in treating patients with chronic lung conditions. Arietta is the first allied health professional of the British Thoracic Society (BTS) Pulmonary Infection Specialist Advisory Group and one of the few physiotherapy chairs for a European Respiratory Society (ERS) Task Force. She is a core member of the Trial Management Group for IMPROVE due to her expertise in assessment and delivery of pulmonary rehabilitation.

Professor Stephanie Taylor

  • Read more...

    Steph is Professor of Primary Care and Public Health at Queen Mary University of London. She is an experienced trialist in respiratory disease including pulmonary rehabilitation. Her background and specialty training is in both public health and primary care. Steph leads a group of researchers in the Wolfson Institute of Population Health, conducting applied health services research directed at improving the lives of people living with long term conditions, particularly those living with respiratory conditions or with multiple long-term conditions. Her research interests include complex, non-pharmacological interventions for chronic conditions directed at improving quality of life and reducing morbidity, process evaluation and intervention development. Steph holds honorary Consultant posts in Public Health with the UK Health Security Agency and Barts NHS Trust, is Academic Capacity Development Lead for the NIHR School for Primary Care Research and Director of the Wellcome Trust funded Doctoral Training Programme for Primary Care Clinicians.

Patient advisors

Patient and public involvement (PPI) refers to an active partnership between patients and/or members of the public and researchers. Researchers and clinicians may not have first-hand experience of the illness, disease or health condition that they wish to research. PPI groups can therefore provide researchers with insights into what it is like to live with a particular disease, illness or health condition helping to make health research more relevant to the needs of patients, carers and service users.

Our group of patient advisors all have COPD and first-hand experience of Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

Sue Green (London)

Les Hamilton (London)

Angie Pearson (London)

Pat Pooke (London)

Pat Goodacre (Leeds)

Sue Squires (Leeds)

With thanks to previous patient advisors:

Stan Hutchins (London)