Northern Care Alliance and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) have strengthened their links with the appointment of two post-doctoral researchers to work on joint projects.
Dr Kevin McCay is based in the university’s Centre for Advanced Computer Science (CfACS) and will build and facilitate collaborative research using advanced new generation analytical approaches (such as artificial intelligence and machine learning) to explore longitudinal electronic patient data and large health data sets.
He has considerable experience of working with NHS data and in his new role will build new collaborations and identify opportunities for research and funding. He will work closely with Professor Yonghong Peng at the university and with Professor Smeeta Sinha and Dr Jim Ritchie, both deputy directors of research at NCA.
Dr McCay’s PhD focused on investigating the feasibility of early diagnosis of neurological disorders, such as cerebral palsy, through the use of computer vision, feature engineering, traditional machine learning, and deep learning. He has also been involved in the development of mobile applications to support the self-management of Sjögren’s syndrome and long-Covid fatigue.
Dr Lauren Hatfield is based in the university’s Centre of Life Sciences and will be working with Professor Nawar Bakerly and Professor Darren Green, as well as MMU’s Professor Chris van der Gast.
Planned projects include analysing the lung microbiota of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and severe asthma and understanding the relationship between the lung microbiota and the increased risk of pneumonia in heart and renal failure. The pilot projects will be used to underpin a project grant to fully explore the hypotheses in larger cohorts.
Dr Hatfield’s PhD focused on using molecular methods to quantify common cystic fibrosis (CF) pathogens and the microbiota of CF respiratory samples. This included optimising quantitative polymerase chain reaction methods to enumerate key CF pathogens in respiratory samples, knowledge which will support her work on the key CF pathogens and microbiota of respiratory samples as part of her role at MMU.
The new role will also allow her to understand the immune response of patients with chronic airway diseases using blood from patients to identify inflammatory markers.
Welcoming the new colleagues, NCA Director of Research and Innovation Professor Phil Kalra said: “These joint appointments will help Dr Hatfield’s and Dr McCay’s very promising research to be closely linked to making patient care and treatment more effective. Collaboration between the University and our NHS organisation is mutually beneficial – we can provide clinical data, patient samples and clinical expertise that will underpin and support the excellent science that will occur in the University laboratories.
“A key objective in our new R&I strategy is to significantly increase the number of clinical academics working across NCA – it is crucial that we invest in our future research leaders and support ground-breaking innovation that will make a real difference to patients and service users.”