My undergraduate degree and PhD were in biological chemistry and I worked in a drug discovery biochemistry lab for a pharmaceutical company for four years following my PhD.
I then moved into health research, working for the Centre for Maternal, Fetal and Child Health at Keele University/ North Staffordshire Hospital NHS Trust. During this period I co-developed a computer based tool for assessing menstrual cycle symptoms and conducted several systematic reviews looking at the effectiveness of prescribed or over the counter treatments for premenstrual syndrome. I co-wrote chapters assessing treatment evidence for the inaugural and subsequent editions of BMJ Clinical Evidence.
I joined the Medical School in Exeter in 2000 as Lecturer in Research Methods with the Research and Development Support Unit (RDSU), now Research Design Service. As part of the RDSU I became the lead for Folk.us, a research programme to develop a culture of meaningful service user, patient and carer involvement across the SW Peninsula. I am currently Professor of Relational Health in the University of Exeter Medical School Relational Health Group
My research is concerned with creating the conditions for health and reducing health inequalities. Understanding workplaces, schools and communities as complex systems and developing processes which support sustainable new ways of behaving has led to the development of the Connecting Communities Programme. A central tenet of how I conduct research is to involve parents, teachers, young people, residents and service users as partners in the design and delivery of the research.
My research interests are in the nature of causality in non-linear systems and in developing complex system approaches to health and health inequalities.
Key to this work are the processes underpinning the identification of the issues (or problems), which are specific to the neighbourhood/ workplace/community and developing partnerships to address these problems, which can create the conditions for health.