The Observatory Team

We are a multidisciplinary research group, drawing on expertise from medicine, public health, social sciences, and health informatics.


Professor Craig Melville

Craig is Director of the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory and Professor of Intellectual Disabilities, in the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow. His work focusses on using evidence from research to inform the development of interventions and policy to improve the health of people with learning disabilities. Craig has worked on clinical trials of complex interventions, such as psychological therapies, weight management and health checks in primary care. Evidence from epidemiological research has been central to the development of these clinical trials and his work with SLDO centres on how to use Scotland’s national datasets to understand and tackle the health inequalities experienced by people with learning disabilities.

Angela Henderson

Angela is the Director of Policy and Impact for the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory. 

Before Angela started working at the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory she worked at the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability. She was Head of Policy and Research.  Angela has worked on lots of different learning disability projects, she is interested in how evidence is used in policy making.

Angela is involved in a lot of projects at the Observatory. These include:

  • Helping to set up the SPIRE learning disabilities data project
  • Analysing information about drug prescribing for people with learning disabilities

Angela believes that the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory can help to achieve more equality and social justice for people with learning disabilities by improving the evidence available to help policy makers and practitioners to take action to improve the health of people with learning disabilities and people with autism.

You can find out more information about Angela here

Professor Anna Cooper

Anna set up the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory with funding from the Scottish Government.

She wants the Observatory to make Scotland fairer and healthier for people with learning disabilities and their families, by:

  • Finding out the health problems people have
  • Finding out how good or bad health care is
  • Telling people about health and health care problems
  • Finding ways to make health and health care better
  • Checking if health gets better or worse over time
  • Helping the Scottish Government, and staff who provide health and social services, to get it right for people with learning disabilities

Anna is a doctor. She has done a lot of studies on the health of people with learning disabilities. 

Anna’s full name is Professor Sally-Ann Cooper.

Click here to find out more about Anna

Professor Jill Pell

The Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory is based in the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at Glasgow University; Professor Jill Pell is Director of this Institute. She is an expert in Public Health.

Jill also has another role as Honorary Consultant in Public Health in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Jill’s main research interests are in:

  • Long term conditions like diabetes
  • Maternal and child health
  • Obesity
  • Smoking

A lot of her research draws on different administrative data and uses data linkage methods to help answer important public health questions. For example, Jill is leading research which will help to understand the different things associated with additional educational support needs.

Click here to to find out more about Jill

Dr Deborah Kinnear

Deborah is Deputy Director of Research for the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory.

Deborah is also a Senior Lecturer in Intellectual Disabilities at the University of Glasgow. She is interested in finding out ways to improve the health of people with learning disabilities and their families. Deborah developed this interest whilst working as a psychologist and also whilst working with people with learning disabilities and their family members.

Deborah is currently exploring a number of areas including:

  • Parent and child mental health
  • Physical health of people with learning disabilities
  • Oral health of people with learning disabilities
  • Health of ageing carers

Deborah hopes that the information she collects will help improve quality and access to healthcare for people with learning disabilities and their family carers.

Click here to find out more about Deborah

Dr Ewelina Rydzewska

Ewelina works as a Research Associate at the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory at the University of Glasgow. Before joining the team, she was part of Autism Network Scotland team at the University of Strathclyde where she had an opportunity to work closely with people with autism spectrum disorder, their families, practitioners, policy makers as well as researchers with particular interests in autism.

In the past Ewelina has been involved in a number of research projects on autism conducted both within academia and other sectors. In her work at the Observatory she is investigating health needs of people on the spectrum. She is currently looking at Scotland's Census data around developmental disorders.

Find out more about Ewelina here

Dr Phillippa Wiseman

Phillippa joined the team at the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory in February 2015. She is a sociologist and a researcher and is interested in disability and equality and this is why she wanted to contribute to the Observatory. Before she began working at the SLDO she finished her PhD at the University of Glasgow.

She has worked as a researcher on a number of projects that have looked at health and inequality for disabled people. She is also interested in the ways in which disabled people can be socially excluded and how this makes them feel.

Phillippa is currently working on a project that will look at hate crime, violence and harassment towards people with learning disabilities. She is interested in how this makes them feel and the impact that it has on their wellbeing and their everyday lives.

Find out more about Phillippa here

Laura Hughes McCormack

Laura has been a researcher working for the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory at the University of Glasgow since 2015.

She is involved in projects looking at the health of people with learning disabilities in a number of large data-sets, including primary health care records, Scotland's 2011 Census and health records of people born with Down Syndrome in Scotland over a 25 year period.

Laura studied Psychology and has extensive experience of working with people with learning disabilities in her previous roles, for example, as a Befriender, a Learning Assistant and an Assistant Psychologist.

Find out more about Laura here

Dr Kirsty Dunn

Kirsty is a Research Associate and has been working in the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory since 2015.  She is interested in the health and wellbeing of individuals with learning disabilities and their families.  Previously, Kirsty has worked on projects examining patterns of hospital admissions, prevalence of physical and mental health conditions, and the impact of caring for a son/daughter with learning disabilities on fathers.

Her current research projects are exploring:

The impact of bullying on young people's mental health

Common mental health conditions experienced by children and young people

Patters of long-term health conditions and prescribing in adults

Find out more about Kirsty here

Sandra Auchterlonie

Sandra is the administrator for the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory. 

Sandra has previously worked for the Public Health Observatory at Health Scotland. 

Here at the Observatory, Sandra takes care of our website, arranges all our events and supports the team with their research projects.

Sandra works part time and is the first point of contact for the team and is always happy to assist you.

Rhiann McLean

Rhiann is a Public Engagement Lead on a project developing an adapted citizens’ jury for people with learning disabilities, based in the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory. This project aims to improve the engagement of adults with learning disabilities in health research by addressing attitudinal, structural and communication barriers to engagement.

Rhiann joined the team in December 2018. Before this post, Rhiann worked on a variety of projects that aimed to understand the barriers that disabled people face when accessing health or social care services and to reduce health inequalities. In her most recent role before the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory, Rhiann worked for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and worked to improve awareness of and access to suitable cervical screening opportunities for marginalised groups in Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Rhiann is also an unpaid carer which is why she feels passionate about reducing health inequalities for people with learning disabilities.

Dr Maria Truesdale

Dr Maria Truesdale is a senior lecturer in intellectual disabilities at the University of Glasgow and is a recent member of the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory.  She has longstanding experience, working in the field of learning disabilities, in health related research across the lifespan in a number of areas including childhood obesity, breast cancer, ageing, diabetes and psychological trauma.  Her research interests centres on improving the health of people with intellectual disabilities through developing and delivering interventions for chronic illnesses, namely Type 2 diabetes. 

Recent projects include:

  • Transition from child to adult health services for people with complex learning disabilities
  • The development of Best Practice Guidelines on Relationships and Sexual Education to meet the needs of children and young people with learning disabilities

Maria is currently building upon her existing research on type 2 diabetes by exploring the health needs of adults with type 2 diabetes and learning disabilities.

Fiona Barlow

Fiona is the Impact and Communications Officer with the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory. Prior to joining the SLDO team in April 2020, Fiona worked at the University of Edinburgh supporting research projects with a specific focus on socio-economic inequalities in Scotland.

Fiona has extensive experience across the field of communications, stakeholder engagement and impact generation and is interested in innovative approaches to knowledge exchange and accessible research dissemination.  Before working in research communications, Fiona worked in the voluntary sector as Public Affairs Officer for Scotland with Samaritans.

Dr Laura Ward

Dr Laura Ward is a part-time researcher with the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory.  Laura is currently working on a project investigating the determinants of poor oral health in people in people with learning disabilities using data linkage.

Click here to find out more about Laura 

 

Dr Filip Sosenko

Filip joined the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory in 2021 as a Research Associate. His previous research focused on severe poverty and associated phenomena, such as the use of food banks, homelessness, and ‘complex needs’. A sociologist by background, Filip has interest in sociological perspectives on learning disabilities. He has advanced quantitative skills (including statistical modelling) and expertise in research methodology. Filip is currently working on a project around cancer incidence and mortality among people with learning disabilities.