NIHR Pre-Doctoral Fellowships awarded to eight applicants from King’s IoPPN

Graduate with data visualisations

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has awarded NIHR Pre-doctoral Fellowships to eight candidates from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London. This is the fifth round of fellowships, which are funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Seven of the successful applications were submitted by the Department of Biostatistics & Health Informatics and a further one was submitted by the Department of Psychology. The full details of the successful applicants, their supervisors and projects, are listed below. They will start between September 2023 and March 2024.

NIHR Pre-Doctoral Fellowships are designed to support people who are looking to start or advance a career in health and social care research methodology, specifically in one of the following areas:

  • medical statistics,
  • health economics,
  • clinical trial design,
  • operational research,
  • modelling,
  • bioinformatics,
  • qualitative research,
  • mixed methods,
  • epidemiology.


Department of Biostatistics & Health Informatics awardees

Supervised by Dr Alfredo IacoangeliSenior Research Fellow, King’s IoPPN

John Jammal

John Jammal (co-supervised by Dr Mohammad Mahdi Karimi)

Cryptic exons result from alternative splicing events often due to disease associated genetic variants. These aberrant mRNA have been demonstrated to play a role in several diseases. John will work on the development of bioinformatics protocols for their study at scale in in next-generation sequencing data of neurodegenerative diseases.  

Triparna Roy

Triparna Roy (co-supervised by Professor Ammar Al-Chalabi and Dr Ahmad Al Khleifat)

Exosomes are cell-derived vesicles containing a wide range of molecules including proteins. They are an emerging biomarker tool and Triparna will focus her project on the use of these vesicles as biomarkers in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.  

Dharti Vasant Kumar

Dharti Vasant Kumar (co-supervised by Professor Ammar Al-Chalabi)

Genetic penetrance is the probability of a phenotype when harbouring a particular pathogenic variant. Neurodegenerative diseases are often caused by a large spectrum of variants in many genes and their penetrance greatly varies across them. Dharti will work on the generation of a penetrance comprehensive panel for the most common variants implicated in neurodegenerative diseases to favour a personalised approach to genetic counselling. 


Supervised by Dr Silia VitoratouSenior Lecturer in Psychometrics and Measurement, King’s IoPPN

Adrian Mak

Hin Long Adrian Mak

Adrian will participate in a project aiming to identify the correlates of misophonia and its relationship to other auditory and mental health disorders. This project aims to both provide evidence on the nomological network of misophonia, and provide evidence for distinguishing clinical and sub-clinical individuals in prevalence rates.

Ace Taaca

Ace Taaca

Ace will lead a project which intends to research the presentation of autism in Asian communities in collaboration with Nora Uglik-Marucha. The scope of the project is to investigate how autistic traits are moderated by degrees of acculturation across immigrant generations. His aim is to study psychometric assessments that account for autism presentation differences between Western population and Asian subgroups which will deconstruct both universal and culturally discriminative autistic traits in Asian adults living in the UK.


Supervised by Professor Kimberley GoldsmithProfessor of Medical Statistics and Complex Intervention Methodology, King’s IoPPN

Co-supervised by Dr Nicola Metrebian, Senior Lecturer in Addiction Treatment Studies, Department of Addictions, King's IoPPN

Louise MacGregor

Louise MacGregor 

Heroin addiction is a significant public health issue and an economic burden to society and the NHS. Opiate Agonist Treatment (OAT) (methadone or buprenorphine) has a strong evidence base and is widely used in the UK. However, heroin use disorder is a chronically relapsing condition, and the benefits of OAT are often undermined by persistent heroin use and high drop-out.

Contingency management (CM) involves the application of positive reinforcement (financial or material incentives) to promote behaviours consistent with treatment goals e.g., attendance, abstinence, delivered as an adjunct to OAT to amplify patient benefit. CM has a strong evidence base, mostly from research in the United States. Using data from the NIHR funded PRAISE cluster randomised trial of UK adapted CM, which was led by the Department of Addictions at King's IoPPN, the project will aim to get a better understanding of how CM works, its key causal mechanisms and for whom it works best.


Supervised by Dr Nick CumminsLecturer in AI for speech analysis, King’s IoPPN

Lauren White

Lauren White

Lauren will explore relationships between speech and depression and determine the role that cognitive load plays in this relationship. A better understanding of this relationship will inform development of robust and reliable speech-based models for mental health assessment.


Department of Psychology awardees

Supervised by Dr Delia FuhrmannLecturer in Psychology, King’s IoPPN

 Lara Acosta Silestrom

Lara Acosta Siljeström

Lara will contribute to our present understanding of the aetiology of mental health problems by investigating the interplay between environmental influences like sleep and stress, brain development and mental health in childhood and adolescence. The project will leverage emerging cohorts like ABCD (N = 11,000, currently 3 waves), and longitudinal models, like random intercept cross-lagged panel models (Wu, et al., 2018). This will allow her to provide insights into developmental pathways in childhood and youth, and help identify potential modifiable environmental factors that can be targeted to protect mental health across the lifespan.


They will all be joining the Applied Statistical Modelling and Health Informatics (ASMHI) MSc.


Tags: Training & capacity development -

By NIHR Maudsley BRC at 17 Aug 2023, 09:11 AM

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