Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


TOPIC Study Research Team

The TOPIC study team is made up of academics and clinicians from with expertise in study design, public health, gerodontology and other subject matters. See below for further information:

TOPIC Study Research Team
University College London
Queen's University Belfast
Salford Royal
Professor Georgios Tsakos

Professor Tsakos

Professor Georgios Tsakos is Chief Investigator of the TOPIC study.  This means he is the authorised health care professional who takes primary responsibility for the conduct of the study; the initiation and conduct of the study at the London site.

Professor Tsakos’ research activity has been developed around three major themes: 1) on the development and evaluation of measures of oral health-related quality of life, and research on their use for needs assessment and planning services, 2) on social determinants of oral health and the relationship between oral and general health, 3) on the effect of oral health on diet and nutrition.

Professor Tsakos teaches Epidemiology, Critical Reading and Planning on the UCL MSc in Dental Public Health course, as well as Statistics on both the UCL MSc in Dental Public Health and MSc in Social Epidemiology courses. He also teaches on the postgraduate course in Public Health and Health Service Management, organised by the University of Crete Medical School, in Greece.

Dr Gerry McKenna

Dr McKenna

Dr Gerry McKenna is a Co-Principal Investigator of the TOPIC study.  He responsible for the overal conduct of the study and the initiation and conduct of the Northern Ireland site.  

Dr McKenna is a specialist in Restorative Dentistry and Prosthodontics and works as a Consultant in the Belfast NHS Health and Social Care Trust.  His clinical duties are based in the Centre for Dentistry, Queens University Belfast where he also provides clinical supervision and teaching for dental undergraduates. He is a Principal Investigator based within the Centre for Public Health and a member of the Nutrition and Metabolism and Health Services Research Groups. His research is centred around optimising treatment options for older patients which positively impact their dental and overall health. His current position combines research, clinical teaching and specialist patient care.  

Dr McKenna is the immediate past President of the Irish Division of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) and past President of the European College of Gerodontology (ECG).  He is the President of the Geriatric Oral Research Group (GORG) at IADR.  

Professor Paul Brocklehurst

Professor Brocklehurst

Professor Paul Brocklehurst is a Co-Principal Investigator of the TOPIC study, he responsible for the overal conduct of the study.

Professor Brocklehurst is a mixed-methods researcher who is interested in public health, role substitution and service re-organisation. He is also interested in the efficacy, effectiveness and efficiency of NHS provision and in needs-based work-force planning, particularly relating to the provision of oral health care for older people.

In his trial Unit role, Professor Brocklehurst is interested in trial design and how implementation science can improve pre, peri and post-trial processes. Professor Brocklehurst is also interested in diagnostic test accuracy methodologies and in screening for common oral diseases and oral malignancy in primary care. 

Dr Sinead Watson

Dr Watson

Dr Sinead Watson is a Research Assistant on the TOPIC study.  She coordinates the running of the study at the Northern Ireland site.

Dr Watson is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Public Health, Queen's University Belfast. Her research interests primarily focus on evaluating interventions aimed at improving the oral health of older adults, particularly those dependent on care. She is also interested in exploring the impact of oral health status on dietary intake and nutritional status of older adults in large population-based cohort studies, and using data collected as part of national food consumption surveys.

Dr Watson contributes to module BIO1302 (Fundamentals of Nutrition and Food Policy) and is also involved in the supervision of Public Health Masters and PhD students.

Dr Watson is extremely supportive of actively involving patients, service users and the public as partners in undertaking research. She has therefore assisted in creating a Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) group called BELONG (Belfast Older Persons' Patient and Public Involvement Group). The PPI group consists of older adults who contribute as advisors to the research conducted by the Oral Health Research Group at CPH.

Anna Verey

Anna Verey

Miss Anna Verey is a Research Assistant on the TOPIC study.  She coordinates the running of the study at the London site. 

Currently Anna is employed by University College on the TOPIC study.  The TOPIC study is a multi-centre, Cluster-Randomised Controlled Trial assessing the feasibility of an intervention to improve the oral health of older people (65+) in care homes, funded by NIHR Public Health Research. 

Anna was previously employed at City, University of London, assisting on a complex, multi-site RCT of peer support for people with severe mental illness being discharged from acute, inpatient mental health services from the East London Foundation Trust (ENRICH study).  Prior to that, she was employed by King’s College London at the King’s Centre for Military Health for three years.  In this role, Anna worked on two studies: the Service Parents’ and Adolescents’ Challenges and Experiences Study (SPACE study) funded by the US Department of Defense; and the ‘WIS’ study - Support to Families of Wounded, Injured, or Sick (WIS) Service Personnel – An Investigation of Current Service Provision and Potential Gaps; funded by the UK Ministry of Defence.

Anesha Patel

Anesha Patel

Anesha Patel is a Clinical Studies Officer on the TOPIC study, employed by Northwest London Clinical Research Network.  Anesha supports the coordination of the study at the London site; in particular Anesha supports care home and resident recruitment and data collection.

Sana Daniyal

Sana Daniyal
Sana works as a Research Assistant in the UCL Dental Public Health Group. She coordinates the running of the TOPIC study at the London site and is responsible for care home residents’ screening and recruitment and data collection. 

She assists in various projects conducted by Dental Public Health Research Group. She graduated as a dentist from Fatima Jinnah Dental College, Pakistan, where she also worked as an academic tutor. She also holds a master's in dental public health from UCL.

Saif Sayeed, Syed

Saif Sayeed
Mr. Saif Syed is a research assistant on the TOPIC study. He coordinates the running of the study at the London site.

Currently, Saif is employed by University College London on the TOPIC study - a multi-center, cluster randomized controlled trial assessing the feasibility of an intervention to improve the oral health of older people (65+) in care homes, funded by NIHR.

Previously, he has worked as a consultant for the Public Health Foundation of India to support the research on ‘Enhancing People’s Participation to Propel Universal Health Coverage in the WHO South-East Asia Region countries.’


Anja Heilmann

Anja Heilmann
Dr Anja Heilmann is an Associate Professor in Dental Public Health in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, UCL. She graduated in Dentistry from Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany, and completed an MSc in Dental Public Health and a PhD in Epidemiology at UCL. Her main research interest are the determinants of oral and general health inequalities across the life course, with a particular focus on the role of the social environment.

She is - together with Prof. Tsakos - the Co-Director of the MSc Dental Public Health course and teaches on the MSc DPH and the BSc Population Health programmes. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Joe Langley

Joe Langley
Joe is a Principal Research Fellow in Lab4Living (Sheffield Hallam University), from the discipline of Design Engineering. His experience and expertise are in co-design and co-production in research and innovation for health and wellbeing, with a specific focus on knowledge mobilisation and implementation.
Frank Kee

Frank Kee
Professor Kee is the Director of the Centre for Public Health in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, and previously directed one of the UKCRC Centres of Excellence for Public Health Research (2008-2018). He currently serves on a number of UKRI scientific advisory and funding panels including the MRC Better Methods for Better Research Panel and the Longitudinal Studies Advisory Group
Rebecca Wassall

Rebecca Wassall
I am a clinical academic in Special Care Dentistry, passionate about enhancing dental care systems for older patients with complex health and care needs so they can experience effective and co-ordinated oral care that is meaningful to them. My research aims to better understand the needs of people receiving and delivering dental care.
Michelle Harvey 

Michelle Harvey
Dr Michelle Harvey joined the TOPIC study research team in February 2023. She coordinates the running of the study at the Northern Ireland site.

Michelle is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast and a member of the Health Services and Global Health Research Group, and the Public Health Nutrition Group. Her current research focusses on the needs of older people with oral health problems.


Craig Smith

Craig Smith
Craig is a Professor of Stroke Medicine at the University of Manchester, with clinical work based at the Manchester Centre for Clinical Neurosciences, Salford Royal Hospital. His translational research addresses the role of infection, inflammation and immunity in ageing and cerebrovascular disease with a particular focus on oral healthcare.
Zoe Hoare

Zoe Hoare
Zoe Hoare is currently Interim Director and Principal Statistician at North Wales Organisation for Randomised Trials in Health (& Social Care) (NWORTH) - a UKCRC-accredited clinical trials unit based at Bangor University. Zoe has contributed to a wide portfolio of clinical research studies particularly focusing on the pragmatic evaluation of complex interventions in a variety of health areas.
Ciaran O'Neil

Ciaran O'Neil
Ciaran O’Neill was educated at Queens University Belfast where he obtained a primary degree in economics and a PhD in agricultural economics. He has held full professorships at Ulster University, Queens University Belfast and the University of Galway as well as lectureships in QUB, and the University of Nottingham. His research focuses on the application of economics to health and healthcare.
Peter Cairns

Peter Cairns
My background was in Retail Pharmacy. After graduating in the mid 70's from Queens University Belfast I ran my own business until the end of 2010, sold up and retired eventually from pharmacy life in 2012.
Richard Watt

Richard Watt is a professor of dental public health at UCL. He is a NIHR Senior Investigator and Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Oral Health Inequalities and Public Health at UCL. His particular area of research expertise is examining the social determinants of oral health inequalities and conducting community trials evaluating complex health improvement interventions.

Andrea Sherriff

I am a Senior Lecturer in Statistics at the University of Glasgow Dental School. I lead the Community Oral Health Research group and I work in a team monitoring and evaluating the Childsmile programme (national child oral health improvement programme) for Scotland. My main focus is on the outcome evaluation of the Childsmile programm

Nat Lievesley

 Nat is an experienced analyst with an interest in key areas of ageing policy including age discrimination, residential care, prevention and wellbeing and the demographics of ageing. He has led the development of successful internet-based resources to capture learning and emerging evidence on older age issues
Nia Goulden

Nia Goulden is a trial statistician based at the North Wales Organisation for Randomised Trials in Health (NWORTH).  Nia completed a degree in Mathematics at Bangor University and a PhD at the University of Manchester. Since joining NWORTH Nia has worked on a variety of different trials, contributing to trial design and data analysis.