Meet the Team

Find out more about the NIDUS study team


Dr Claudia Cooper | Chief Investigator

claudia cooper
Claudia is Chief Investigator of NIDUS, a Professor of older people’s psychiatry at UCL Division of Psychiatry and an Honorary consultant old age psychiatrist in Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust memory services.

She also leads the NIHR/ESRC APPLE-Tree programme, investigating how lifestyle and behavioural change can prevent dementia in older people; and is a member of: the UK Cabinet Office Trial Advice Panel, PRIMENT Clinical Trials Unit steering group; and the UK Royal College of Psychiatrist’s psychopharmacology committee; and co-director of the UCL Wellcome Doctoral Training Programme for mental health and postgraduate tutor for UCL Division of Psychiatry.


Jessica Budgett | Programme Manager

jess budgett
Jessica has a BSc in Psychology from Durham University and an MSc in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience from Goldsmiths College. She has previously worked in the NHS as an Assistant Psychologist in a Community Stroke and Neuro Rehabilitation Team and in memory clinics. Jessica has worked on multiple dementia care research studies at UCL.
Penny Rappaport | Clinical Psychologist/ Senior Research Fellow

Penny Rappaport
Penny is a clinical psychologist and senior research fellow in the Division of Psychiatry at UCL. Having worked for a number of years in services for older people in the NHS she is interested in developing deliverable and sustainable psychosocial interventions. Her research interests include collaborating on the development, testing and implementation of non-pharmacological interventions for people living with dementia, their families and paid carers, especially widening access through innovation. In addition to her work on the NIDUS project, this includes interventions for the management of agitation in care homes, management of sleep problems in people with dementia and to improve family carer’s mood and quality of life.
Jordan Ayden | Research Assistant


Ayesha Dar | Research Assistant

Ayesha Dar
Ayesha has a BSc in Psychology and an MPhil in Clinical Psychology from the University of Karachi, Pakistan. Before joining the NIDUS study, she was working in an NHS Team as a Clinical Studies Officer for Dementia and Mental Health research.
 Freya Koustsoubelis | Research Assistant


Anna Olsen | Research Assistant


Sedigheh Zabihi | Research Assistant


Monica Leverton | PhD Student

Monica Leverton
Monica is a final year PhD student at UCL, with a BSc. in Psychology from the University of Birmingham and a MSc. in Clinical Psychology Research from the University of Hertfordshire. Her PhD is embedded within the NIDUS study for which she has carried out qualitative interviews and participant observations of home care for people with dementia to inform the development of the NIDUS-Professional intervention.
Jessica Rees | PhD Student

Jessica Rees
Jessica Rees is a PhD student at University College London, Division of Psychiatry. Her research focuses on improving care planning for long-term conditions in dementia through understanding experiences and support currently available. Jessica has a particular interest in health psychology and self-management.



Twitter: @Jessica_LRees 

University of Bradford

Murna Downs | Co-Investigator/ Professor in Dementia Studies

Murna Downs
Professor Murna Downs is Professor in Dementia Studies at the Centre for Applied Dementia Studies at the University of Bradford. She has published on a range of topics from early diagnosis through to end of life care. Murna’s collaborative research is currently focused on developing and testing interventions to improve care in people's own homes. She has recently completed a study on early detection of changes in health in nursing homes.  She co-directs the University’s Alzheimer’s Society funded Doctoral Training Centre on dementia care and services research, ‘Improving transitions in dementia care’. She is co-editor of the highly commended textbook Excellence in dementia care: Research into practice and is series editor of the Jessica Kingsley Good Practice Guides on Dementia Care. Murna is on the editorial board of Ageing and Mental Health and serves on the Alzheimer's Society Research Strategy Council. She is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America and in 2018 she was awarded the British Society for Gerontology Outstanding Achievement Award for her work in applied dementia studies over the past 30 years. 


Kathryn Lord | Principal Investigator 

Kathryn Lord
With over 10 years of research experience in the field of dementia, Kathryn's research interests are currently focused on improving the care of people with dementia living at home. Kathryn is co-applicant and PI on research focused on supporting individuals and their families to maintain their independence at home and also manage other health conditions such as delirium.  

Kathryn currently teaches across BSc and MSc programmes within the Faculty of Health Studies on a range of topics from 'Understanding dementia' to 'Ethics and communication'. Kathryn also supervises a number of MSc and PhD students and is an academic board member of the Centres Alzheimers Society funded Doctoral Training Centre for Transitions in Dementia Research.

Kathryn currently sits on the University Athena Swan Board and the Faculty of Health Research and Knowledge Transfer Committee. Kathryn is Associate Editor for BMC Health Services Research.


Dan Kelleher | Research Assistant

Dan has an MA in Psychology from the University of Glasgow. Before joining the NIDUS team he worked as a Senior Research Assistant in the NHS, supporting the delivery of a variety of dementia research projects. He previously worked for Alzheimer Scotland, supporting people to live independently in the community, and facilitating memory cafes and activity groups. 


Jodie Birch

jodie birch

Jodie has a BSc in Psychology from Royal Holloway University of London. Before joining the NIDUS project, she worked in the NHS as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist for a Community Stroke and Neuro Rehabilitation Team.

Megan Bird

Megan Bird

Megan has a BSc in Psychology from Cardiff University. She has previously worked on research projects at the University of Oxford. Prior to joining UCL, Megan was working for the NHS as an Assistant Psychologist for a Community Stroke Team.

Lucy Matthews

Lucy Mathews

Lucy has a BSc in Psychology from the University of Warwick. She is a trained Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner and has previously worked in an Older Adult Community Mental Health Team/Memory clinic.