The SOFIA academic team

Who is leading the project?

Dr Sarah Northcott

Sarah is a Speech and Language Therapist and Research Fellow based at the Division of Language and Communication Science, City, University of London. She worked as a Speech and Language Therapist on the Isle of Wight and for Lambeth Primary Care Trust before completing a PhD examining the social impact of stroke and aphasia. In 2015 she was awarded a City University 12 month Postdoctoral Fellowship Award. More recently, she has received the Stroke Association Jack and Averil (Mansfield) Bradley Fellowship Award for Stroke Research, which is how this project is funded.  In addition to her academic work Sarah has completed specialist training in Solution Focused Brief Therapy. Her research interests lie in exploring ways to support the emotional and social well-being of people living with aphasia.

Contact details:

Telephone: 020 7 040 3186
Twitter: @sarahnorthcott8

If you have any questions about the project, or would like to find out more, please do feel free to contact Sarah!


Academic supervisors

There is a strong academic team supporting Sarah. The team is interdisciplinary, bringing together both Speech and Language Therapy and also mental health professionals.


Professor Katerina Hilari

Katerina is Professor of Acquired Communication Disorders and jointly leads the Centre for Language and Communication Science Research at City, University of London. She is a Speech and Language Therapist with a background in Psychology. Katerina’s current research is exploring interventions to address the impact of aphasia and other communication disorders on people’s well-being, social participation and quality of life. She is the recipient of the first Stroke Association funded Priority Programme Award for Psychological Care in Stroke for the SUPERB trial. SUPERB explores emotional adjustment and the role of peer support post stroke and aphasia. She has also developed a widely used questionnaire, the Stroke and Aphasia Quality of Life Scale (SAQOL-39), for use in both research and clinical practice. You can follow Katerina on twitter: @KaterinaHilari


Professor Alan Simpson

Alan is a mental health nurse researcher who leads the Centre for Mental Health Research, at City, University of London, which investigates how best to deliver and improve mental health care and mental health nursing. He has a special interest in involving service users and carers in mental health practice, education and research, and is co-founder and facilitator of the award-winning  Service User and Carer Group Advising on Research (SUGAR). Alan has recently led the completion of two cross-national studies investigating the facilitators and barriers to delivering recovery-focused care planning and coordination in community and inpatient mental health settings in England and Wales. You can follow Alan on twitter @cityalan.


Dr Shirley Thomas

Shirley is an Associate Professor in Rehabilitation Psychology at the University of Nottingham. She is an HCPC Registered Health Psychologist, Chartered Psychologist (Health) and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (AFBPsS). Shirley’s main research interest is in the psychological aspects of stroke, particularly the assessment and treatment of mood problems following stroke. She completed a multicentre randomised controlled trial of behaviour therapy to treat low mood in people who have aphasia following a stroke, funded by the Stroke Association (CALM trial). She is currently leading an NIHR-HTA funded feasibility trial of behavioural activation for post-stroke depression (BEADS trial). You can follow the BEADS trial on Twitter @beads_trial



Dr Shashivadan Hirani

Shashi is a Chartered Health Psychologist and Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology / Health Services Research at the School of Health Sciences, City, University of London. He is a senior member of the Health Services Research Group and teaches Research Methods and Applied Data Analyses on Postgraduate Courses. Shashi’s research interests include the use of assistive technologies in health and social care, the application of health psychology in voice pathology and the design, delivery and evaluation of self-management/behaviour change interventions in chronic health conditions. You can follow Shashi on twitter @ShashiHirani


Trial Steering Committee

The Trial Steering Committee is meeting at least three times over the course of the project and are also consulted by email and phone as needed. They monitor the progress of the trial, oversee the conduct of the study, and give guidance and advice.

Professor Jane Marshall, Centre of Language and Communication Science, City, University of London

Dr Chris Flood, Centre for Mental Health Nursing, City, University of London
Dr Shashivadan Hirani, Centre for Health Services Research, City, University of London
Dr Kathleen Mulligan, Centre for Health Services Research and Management, City, University of London
Dr Sarah Northcott, Centre for Language and Communication Sciences, City, University of London
Dr Carole Pound, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, University of Bournemouth