Meet the Team

The team is led by Professor Ailsa Russell, the chief investigator (CI) of the Autism Depression Trial-2.

The CI has overall responsibility for activities in the Autism Depression Trial-2. Professor Russell is supported by the central study team and a team of co-investigators to carry out and advise on all trial activities.

Central Study Team

Professor Ailsa Russell – Chief Investigator, Centre for Applied Autism Research, University of Bath

Hannah Sheridan – Trial Manager (Maternity Leave), Bristol Trials Centre, University of Bristol

Leo Cotton – Trial Manager, Bristol Trials Centre, University of Bristol

Sunita Procter – Trial Portfolio Lead,  Bristol Trials Centre, University of Bristol

Catherine Georgakopoulou – Deputy Trial Coordinator, Bristol Trials Centre, University of Bristol

I am taking part in the study, who will I meet?

Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust

Monalisa Bora-White – R&D Manager & Lead Research Practitioner

Hello, my name is Mona. I currently work as a Research Team Manager and Lead Research Practitioner in Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust. I have worked in clinical research within the NHS since 2014, supporting a variety of different studies across a range of target populations and design. I value inclusive and accessible research and exploring ways of improving awareness of research to improve healthcare for the wider population. I currently work across several mental health related studies and am excited to be supporting the delivery of the ADEPT-2 Study.

Darren French – Research Nurse

Hi, my name is Darren. I am a Research Nurse and work in Bristol, in Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust.

I am a qualified Mental Health Nurse and I joined the team and started working in Research in May last year. I have really enjoyed helping to support research over the past year and have been lucky enough to help with different studies looking at different areas such as, Dementia, Psychosis, Depression and Anxiety. As a Mental Health Nurse, I have worked in different clinical settings and have previously worked with adults with Autism who were experiencing problems with their mental health. I really enjoy helping people to have the opportunity to take part in research that they are interested in and care about, and I am very much looking forward to being able to support with the ADEPT-2 study.

Outside of work, I enjoy many different things including visiting different countries, hill walking, surfing and rugby.

Thalia Pilcher – Research Practitioner

Hello, I’m Thalia. I work as a Research Practitioner with Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust.

Prior to this role I was an Assistant Psychologist in an Early Intervention for Psychosis Team. I have a particular interest in systemic and family therapy and have recently qualified as a Systemic Practitioner.

I am excited to be working with the ADEPT-2 study, and to contribute to making a difference to the lives of autistic people.

When I am not working I love to spend my time hiking, camping and exploring, as well as dying my hair various different colours!

Monalisa, Darren and Thalia will be supported by a Principal Investigator – Dr Alison Cape, Consultant Psychiatrist.

Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust

Shauni Richardson – Research Assistant & GSH coach

Hello, my name is Shauni Richardson. I am an Assistant Psychologist within the Cumbria Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust working within an inpatient service. I am very proud to be involved in research dedicated to making mental health services more accessible to autistic people. My other research interests include; Trauma Informed Care (TIC) and behavioural activation for low mood. Outside of work I enjoy travelling and exploring wonders of the world.

Dani Lewis– Research Assistant

Hi, my name is Dani. I am an Assistant Psychologist within Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust working with the Adult Community Learning Disability Team in West Cumbria. Prior to this I graduated from Lancaster University with a BSc in Psychology and worked within the Community Mental Health Team. My clinical interests include mental health and learning disabilities, I also hold a personal interest in Autism due to my sisters experiences of ASD. Having witnessed some of the gaps in support, I am excited to be a part of research effort to improve these. Outside of work I love to travel (anywhere hot!) and ticking off the Wainwrights.

Shauni and Dani will be supported by a Principal Investigator – Dr Dave Dagnan, Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Irene Kovac – Research Assistant & GSH coach

Hello, my name is Irene. I currently work as an Assistant Psychologist within the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Foundation trust, working with autistic adults in an inpatient service. Before this, I recently completed a MSc in Developmental Psychology and a BSc (Hons) in Psychology at the University of Dundee. I have previously worked as an Autism Practitioner for Scottish Autism within the Supported Living Services. I have also worked with children with autism through my experience of being a support worker in a children nursery and a volunteer for Barnardo’s family services. I am very excited to be contributing to the ADEPT 2 trial and to make a positive difference to hopefully make mental health services suitable for people with autism.

Daniel Graham – Research Assistant

Hi, I’m Daniel. I’m currently working as an Assistant Psychologist in the Northumberland Community Learning Disability Team within Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust. I completed an MSc in Psychology at Northumbria University in 2021. Following this, I worked in an inpatient child and adolescent unit as a Nursing Assistant before starting my current role. In the future I hope to undertake doctorate study and qualify as a Clinical Psychologist. Outside of work I enjoy listening to music, playing guitar and watching Newcastle United.

Irene and Daniel will be supported by a Principal Investigator – Dr Barry Ingham, Associate Psychological Services Director

Teeside, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust

Melissa Goble – Research Assistant

Hi, I’m Melissa. I’m a Research Assistant in the Research and Development Department at Teek, Esk, and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust. I have previously worked on mental health wards providing care and support for people with many different diagnoses. I have worked on numerous research studies covering a wide range of mental health conditions, Dementia, and Parkinson’s. I hope to help make a difference by enhancing the current support available to autistic people.

Clair Dale – Clinical Studies Officer

Hi, I’m Clair. I am an IAPT HI CBT therapist and have adapted my practice for autistic clients.

I have a background in mental health nursing, predominantly CAMHS so I have worked with lots of autistic children and young people, involved from referral to diagnosis. I have been a research nurse since March this year and whilst it’s very different, it’s also challenging and interesting. I have a special interest in tics / Tourette’s and I used to run a group to help young people manage their tics.

Going for walks, reading a good book , watching a series (mostly crime) and cross stitching are activities I enjoy. Outside of work I love spending time with my two daughters, my grandson, and Freddie, a cocker spaniel. Currently, whenever I walk on the beach I am collecting “sea glass”- I’m not sure whether I am going to make pictures or put it in a jar with fairy lights (I’ve probably got half a jar so far!).

Melissa and Clair will be supported by a Principal Investigator – Dr Vicky Jervis, Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

Catherine Hanlon-Vanstone – Research Assistant & GSH coach

I am an Assistant Psychologist within the Cardiff and Vale Integrated Autism Service and I am also the Research Assistant for ADEPT-2 at the local site for Wales. I have worked with autistic adults in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan for the last 12 years and over this time I have gleaned an insight into the barriers that exist for many autistic people in accessing support for depression and I have seen the impact this can have on their lives. I am passionate about working with autistic people and I am driven to support the enhancement of existing provision for autistic people in Wales.

Adam McCombe – Research Assistant & GSH coach

Hello, I’m Adam, an Assistant Psychologist in the Cardiff Integrated Autism Service as well as a Research Assistant for ADEPT-2 here at the Cardiff site. I have worked with people with an autism diagnosis across a variety of settings including CAMHS hospital wards, community adult/CAMHS LD services and a community Child Developmental Psychology Team. I have particular experience delivering one-to-one interventions with autistic teenagers with anxiety-related difficulties to support them to build skills and a self-awareness to overcome these challenges. The opportunity to work on this study excites me as it offers me a chance to utilise my research skills developed in my Psychological Research Methods MSc with an area of particular clinical interest of mine.

Catherine and Adam will be supported by a Principal Investigator – Dr Rona Aldridge, Principal Clinical Psychologist/ IAS Clinical Lead

Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust

Will Jebson  – Clinical Studies Officer & GSH coach

Hi, I’m Will. I’m a Clinical Studies Officer at CWPT NHS Trust, and a Research Assistant helping support the delivery of ADEPT-2. I’m thrilled to be a part of such amazing work helping make services for adults with autism more effective and accessible.

My previous research interests have involved investigating the role of resilience in the trauma-psychosis relationship. Over the last few years, I have gained practical experiences supporting adults with autism and learning disabilities in residential care, along with children who have experienced traumatic upbringings and who present with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. I also currently work as an Assistant Psychologist for a private clinic where I deliver 1:1 therapy following a diagnosis of autism in children.

I like playing and watching football (a lot!), and also enjoy making music.

Will will be supported by a Principal Investigator – Professor Peter Langdon, Professor of Clinical and Forensic Psychology

Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust

Dr Sarah Baillon – Senior Research Associate

Hi there!  I’m Sarah and I am Senior Research Associate at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust.  I have worked as a researcher for over 25 years, first at the University of Leicester and more recently in the NHS, in my current role with LPT.  I lead and support a variety of research in our Trust including community health (for example, podiatry, stroke, and community nursing) and research into mental health. The thing I enjoy most about research is meeting people and helping them to have the opportunity to take part in research that may either help them, or perhaps others in the future.  Outside of work I enjoy reading, walking my dog and doing various sports such as running, swimming, surfing, windsurfing and I’m currently trying to learn a new sport called wing-foiling.

Joy Fellows – Research Assistant & GSH coach

Hello, my name is Joy Fellows. I work as a Clinical Research Assistant at Leicestershire NHS Partnership Trust.

I have a background in Psychology and Clinical Neuropsychology and have gained experience working on a vast array of research studies, predominately working with those with Huntington’s Disease & Dementia. I am very excited and feel privileged to be able to work & support autistic people & the ADEPT-2 study team.

Outside of work, I enjoy playing video games, listening to music and spending time with my Labrador puppy – Kasper.

Jo Brown– Clinical Research Practitioner

I’m Jo, a Clinical Research Practitioner at LPT.

I have worked in research for the last 10 years and in healthcare for 31. My background is across physical health directorates however I have a personal interest in Autism with 3 of my children having a diagnosis of ASD so I am very excited to be part of the ADEPT2 study to look at ways we can better support people with ASD.

Outside of work I have a cat and an older chocolate Lab who despite his age is still completely bonkers.  I love music and festivals.  I love sport mainly football, netball and rugby.  And finally, I enjoy going out on my motorbike with a local group of ladies for tea and cake.

Sarah, Joy and Jo will be supported by a Principal Investigator – Dr Sam Tromans Associate Professor of Psychiatry

The Central Research Team is based at the University of Bristol. For general enquires you can contact us by email:

If you are interested in taking part and would like to receive more information, please visit the Take Part Page, or contact us by email:

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