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Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute

The Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute, launched in 2019, sits within the University of Sunderland’s prestigious School of Nursing and Health Sciences.



Interdisciplinary Research and Knowledge Exchange in health and care

The University benefited from a generous, multi-million-pound donation from philanthropist and entrepreneur Helen McArdle, which was instrumental in the creation of the innovative new Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute in 2019. The University’s Shackleton House building has been re-named Helen McArdle House in recognition of this extraordinary gift.

The Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute focuses on applied health research, working collaboratively across the Faculties of Health Sciences and Wellbeing, Arts and Creative Industries and the Faculty of Technology, harnessing the power and potential of interdisciplinary research. Drawing upon the wide talent and expertise of academics and synergies across the University, our interdisciplinary approach to solving real world research and knowledge exchange issues is making a difference to underserved populations, stigmatized conditions and enabling people to take control of their own health and wellbeing.

The Institute is home to the Sunderland Social Prescribing Research and Knowledge Exchange Centre, funded by the legacy of Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group. The Centre is overseeing the development of evidence to support social prescribing initiatives across the City and to support the delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan. We are supported by Sunderland City Council, All Together Better Sunderland and Sunderland GP Alliance.

The opening of Helen McArdle house at the University of Sunderland

Our strategic programmes

Opened in September 2019, the Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute focuses on four strategic and synergistic programmes of research and knowledge exchange:

1) Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions (NMAHPs)
2) Health Inequalities
3) Health Services Research
4) Health and Care Workforce Interdisciplinary Research Network (including The Sunderland Social Prescribing Research and Knowledge Exchange Centre)

These strategic programmes are aligned to international, national and regional policy in these areas. Since opening, the Institute’s strategy has also evolved in response to key national and regional policy on the commissioning and delivery of services in the NHS, local authority, and social care, alongside the evidenced widening of health inequalities.

A student nurse

Health and wellbeing

The Institute works collaboratively with external organisations from health, social care, local authority, academic, commercial, and professional bodies. These international, national, and regional partnerships produce co-designed research and knowledge exchange activities under the four Institute programmes and four workstreams to provide recommendations and solutions to health and wellbeing challenges across the continuum of care.

Find out more information on health and wellbeing in Sunderland:  

PhD Students

Our PhD students make a vibrant contribution to the Institute’s research environment, with their work aligned to our Programmes and Workstreams.Other staff.

Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute PhD Scholarship

Maria Freeman is the recipient of the 2022 Scholarship entitled ‘Exploring health inequalities in deprived populations in Sunderland’. This study is in collaboration with Sunderland City Council, with the findings having potential to inform strategies to improve the health and wellbeing of Sunderland.

Maria is a graduate of the University, with a BSc in Public Health and a wealth of experience working in health and with underserved populations. This work is aligned to our Health Inequalities Strategic Programme.

Maria Freeman

Hope Winch National Pharmacy Association PhD Scholarship

Kostas Pefanis is the recipient of the 2022 Scholarship which focuses on the role of community pharmacy and palliative care.  Pharmacy practice is an established and  integral focus of the Institute’s work, aligned to our Health Services Research Programme.

Kostas is a qualified Pharmacist, with an MPharm from the University of Sunderland.

Our other PhD Students

  • Callum Tierney (School of Pharmacy)
  • Sam Lucas (School of Art and Design)
  • Julie Parrott (School of Nursing and Health Sciences)
  • Inga Hamilton (School of Art and Design)


 Our activity is enhanced by a team of experienced and interdisciplinary Research Associates, across a range of externally funded research and knowledge exchange projects.

  • Abbey Fletcher
  • Eva Masterman
  • Lindsay Parkin
  • Dawn Ridgway
  • Jane Young

Advisory Boards

The Institute is governed through an Internal and an External Advisory Board, who support the strategic development of research and knowledge exchange activity.

Research Associates and Visiting Professors

The Institute’s Research and Knowledge Exchange Activity is supported by our Visiting Professors and Visiting Research Fellows internationally and nationally.

Computer on desk with view on tall buildings in a blue background

Research and knowledge Exchange Professional Support

Successful Research and Knowledge Exchange activity relies on strong partnerships within the University. The work of the Institute is supported by professionals across the wider University, whose expertise is vital to the work of the Institute from design to dissemination, impact development, and contributing to a rich and vibrant research and knowledge exchange culture. The Institute’s wider team includes a dedicated Strategic Project and Funding Manager, Finance, Human Resources, Research Environment and Assessment Officer, Legal, Continuous Improvement and Communications, all of whom provide invaluable contribution to the Institute.

Find out more

Our research programmes

Our four Institute workstreams

The four programmes are supported by four strategic workstreams of:

An empty hospital ward

Out of Hospital Care

- Social prescribing

- Care home workforce wellbeing

A group of people in army uniforms

Military and veteran health and wellbeing

- Social isolation

- Resettlement and reintegration of veterans 

A hospital ward.

Obesity and bariatric surgical care

- Long-term follow up of people who have had bariatric surgery

- Stigma of obesity

A group of nurses surrounding a hospital bed

Women's health

- Inequalities in sexual and reproductive health in BAME and populations with obesity

- Breastfeeding

The drivers of these research and knowledge exchange workstreams are to produce outputs which can change service delivery and models of integrated care, improve population health and influence policy and practice.

Staff contacts

Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals (NMAHPs):


Hospital Pharmacy:

  • Mrs Lindsay Parkin

Community Pharmacy:

View of the outside Helen McArdle House buildings

Get involved

The Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute offers lectures, podcasts and webinars to highlight the work of the Institute, and our collaborations with partner organisations, providing opportunities for discussion and debate.

These activities will be open to, and bring together, University staff and students, local and regional NHS and care workforces, including health and social care organisations, and the public.

Find out more

Contact us

For any enquiries about the Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute, please email Professor Yitka Graham at yitka.graham@sunderland.ac.uk.