BRC celebrates its inspirational women on IWD 2024 

Posted by: Jamie Sharp - Posted on:

On Friday 8 March the NIHR Leicester BRC joins the global community in celebrating International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to honouring the achievements, contributions, and resilience of women. 

Dr Natalie Darko, Leicester BRC’s Director of Inclusion, said: “International Women’s Day honours our unique identities and unwavering strengths, acknowledging the contributions and achievements of those who are often overlooked.

“It stands as a firm reminder that our presence is powerful and our potential limitless, despite the marginalisation we may face. On this day, we celebrate our right to be seen, heard, and to succeed in research, teaching, healthcare, and practice. 

Dr Aarti Parmar, BRC Manager, (pictured below), said:  “Every day, we find inspiration in the unwavering commitment of women throughout the BRC who translate scientific discoveries into potential new treatments, diagnostics and technologies for patients in Leicester and beyond”.   

“On International Women’s Day we wanted to celebrate just a few of these special women, who we’re privileged to say are part of the BRC.”  

The NIHR Leicester BRC is led by Professor Melanie Davies CBE, who inspires through her incredible professional achievements in the field of diabetes research her strong leadership across multiple infrastructures and the support and opportunities she gives to all women working in research.  

Women hold many senior positions within the BRC, including the Personalised Cancer Prevention & Treatment Theme lead Professor Jacqui Shaw, Lead of our Environment Theme, Professor Anna Hansell, Professor Laura Gray; Data Innovation for Multiple Long Term Conditions & Ethnic Health Theme Co-Lead and BRC Manager, Dr Aarti Parmar.  

Their achievements inspire everyone working and supporting the research being undertaken at the BRC. 

Natalie Darko is the Director of Inclusion at the BRC & an Associate Professor of Health Inequalities, at the University of Leicester.  Natalie specialises in health research and practice that addresses equality, equity, and inclusion of underrepresented and minority groups.  

She has extensive experience in leading and delivering research within the field of health inequalities, of which her current research projects focus on maternal health, womb cancer, social prescribing, diabetes, faith-based interventions, and dementia. She supports researchers, organisations and practitioners on how to work collaboratively with and for underserved and minority groups to inform equitable health and research practice.  

Professor Sally Singh is the Director for Training and Capacity Development at the BRC. She is the Head of Pulmonary and Cardiac Rehabilitation at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, with roles at the University of Leicester’s Department of Respiratory Sciences. 

Her research specialisms include pulmonary rehabilitation and digital interventions to support rehabilitation and recovery. Alongside the team from University Hospitals of Leicester NHS, Sally has been working with national clinical leaders to build the ground breaking ‘Your Covid Recovery’ online service and is now working with the NHS nationally to roll it out across the country.  

Dr Rachel Evans holds an NIHR Clinician Scientist Fellowship to investigate how to improve health-related outcomes for adults with chronic breathlessness using a symptom-based approach.  

Her areas of expertise include exercise physiology, training and rehabilitation for people with long term cardiorespiratory conditions. She is key member of the PHOSP-COVID team, which works to understand the long-term health implications of COVID-19. PHSOP-COVID has just been named as a finalist for the Outstanding Team Impact Award at the MRC’s Impact Prize. 

Anvesha Singh is a Consultant Cardiologist at Leicester’s Hospitals, specialising in cardiac imaging (echocardiography and cardiac MRI). Anvesha is supported by an NIHR Advanced Fellowship.  Her research interests include using imaging and blood biomarkers to improve risk stratification in aortic stenosis (the most common valve lesion requiring surgery in the western world). 

Professor Karen Brown is the Director of the Leicester Cancer Research Centre and joint lead of the Leicester Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre carrying out research within the BRC’s Personalised Cancer Prevention & Treatment theme. Karen’s research focusses on the discovery and preclinical development of agents for the prevention of cancer in populations at increased risk. She works to optimise the translation of these therapies to the clinic where she conducts early and late phase trials.  

Karen is currently leading COLO-PREVENT, a world-first prevention trial platform that will investigate the ability of resveratrol, aspirin and metformin to prevent colorectal polyps in high-risk patients. This trial is funded by Cancer Research UK and will be conducted across 60 sites in England and Wales.  

Professor Louise Goff joined the BRC in 2023. Louise is an academic dietitian specialising in the role of diet and lifestyle in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes, with a particular interest in tackling health inequalities among minority ethnic groups. 

Professor Charlotte Edwardson is the University of Leicester’s Leicester Lifestyle and Health Research Group Deputy Director which was recently awarded £14 million from Research England’s Expanding Excellence in England Fund to expand research into the prevention and management of chronic disease through physical activity, which she carries out within the Lifestyle theme of the Leicester BRC. 

Professor of Microbiology Martha Clokie who leads the Centre for Phage Research, A pioneering new centre to study bacteriophages to combat antibiotic resistant bacteria at the University of Leicester.   

The NIHR Leicester BRC welcomed Professor of Chemical Pathology & Diabetes in Pregnancy Claire Meek, from the University of Cambridge recently. 

Professor Meek brings her extensive experience with pregnant women with type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes to the Lifestyle theme of the Leicester BRC, where she will continue to advance the understanding of diabetes, nutrition and obesity in pregnancy through research. 

Celebrating the achievements of all of the inspirational women carrying out vital work within the BRC is an impossible task. This International Women’s Day we simply hope to inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion.  

When women themselves are inspired to be included, there’s a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment.  Collectively, let’s forge a more inclusive world for women.