WCH Research Unit team members

Women & Children's Research

Dr Christy Burden

Dr Christy Burden is a Consultant Senior Lecturer and Head of the Academic Women’s Health Unit at the University of Bristol.

She and the team at UoB have published seminal work on virtual reality simulation education and training and more recently research in the area of high risk pregnancies and perinatal loss. This includes publications in the Lancet on psychosocial outcomes after perinatal death.
Her clinical and research interests are in maternal medicine and the management of high risk pregnancies in women with chronic diseases and gestational diabetes.
Christy Burden is also the NIHR Clinical Research Network Lead for Reproductive Health and Childbirth.

You can read more about Christy here : https://research-information.bristol.ac.uk/en/persons/christy-burden(951a2edc-6664-4b7a-9b66-a7f9a0096cbf).html


Women & Children's Research

Mary Lynch

Delivery Suite Midwife

Mary Lynch works clinically as a Delivery Suite Midwife at NBT and as a Research Midwife for the WCHRU. She is also affiliated with the University of Bristol whilst she pursues a postgraduate research qualification (MRes). She has worked with the WCHRU team in stillbirth research for the last three years. Most recently she has been involved in assessing the feasibility of integrating parental input into the perinatal mortality review process, which takes place after the loss of a baby before birth (Stillbirth) or shortly afterwards (Neonatal death) – the PARENTS study. This research has informed a new National Bereavement Care Pathway and Perinatal Mortality Review Tool (PMRT).

Mary is also a collaborator in a National Institute for Health Research project to develop a Core Outcome Set (COS) for interventions after stillbirth (iCHOOSE Study). She has also been closely involved in developing a set of Global Principles for Stillbirth in Low and Middle-income countries – an on-going project  in collaboration with the International Stillbirth Alliance.



Women & Children's Research

Laura Timlin

Research Project Manager

Laura is the WCHRU’s Research Project Manager. She leads the development of competitive research bids with the aim of attaining non-commercial grant funding and promoting more and more research in the Women & Children’s Health Directorate at North Bristol NHS Trust.
She is the Public and Patient Involvement Co-ordinator within the research Unit, helping to develop and maintain our patient-focused ethos.
She also directly project manages a number of our existing studies, including:

Parents’ Active Role and ENgagemenT in their Stillbirth and neonatal death review (PARENTS study)
Antenatal Care Education: the co-design and piloting of interventions to improve patient and staff experience through better birth preparedness (ACE Study)
CHronic endometritis ANd unexplained reCurrent misscarriagE: the role of the endometrial microbiome  (CHANCE Study)


Women & Children's Research

Mary Alvarez

Senior Research Midwife

Mary entered research in January 2015, and was promoted within North Bristol Trust to the role of senior research midwife in 2017. Mary brought 27 years of clinical midwifery experience into her research role. Her passion is to create a research culture where research is ‘everyone’s daily business’ and to rotate midwives through the department to create research champions in the ward areas. Mary is also a member of PROMPT (Practical obstetric multi professional training) and helps train maternity teams in obstetric emergencies both in this country and abroad.



Women & Children's Research

Nichola Bale

Senior Research Midwife

Nicky was a clinical midwife who worked in complicated antenatal and intrapartum care for 16 years before entering research in 2016.  Based in the Great  Western Hospital, Swindon, she was the lead midwife for the IMox intrapartum study.  Working on this study made Nicky realise she had a keen interest in research processes and the difference research can make to patient care; both at the point of delivery and for future patients.  Keen to pursue this as a new career pathway, Nicky took an 8 month fixed term contract at North Bristol NHS Trust, which was extended and then made permanent in October 2019.  She is currently enrolled in the One NBT Leadership Programme.



Women & Children's Research

Lily Excell

Research Midwife

Lily qualified as a Midwife in 2015 after completing her Midwifery degree at the University of the West of England. She then began her career as a rotational midwife at North Bristol NHS Trust and became a core Delivery Suite midwife. Lily now works between Delivery Suite and the research department in Women and Children’s with the passion to improve the care women and their babies receive. She has spent the majority of her time in the research department working on the ASSIST study, investigating the BD Odon device.



Women & Children's Research

Abi Merrie

ASSIST II Trial Manager

Abi joined the Women’s and Children’s Research team in July 2019 as Trial Manager for the ASSIST II Trial. Abi was previously Programme Manager for the NIHR Cataract Research Programme at Bristol Hospital and has more than a decade’s clinical experience in ophthalmology and MSc in Ophthalmic & Vision Science. Throughout the 6 year duration of the Cataract Research Programme Abi helped coordinate Patient and Public Involvement, collecting patients’ opinion and experiences together to support and improve the cataract studies, and is keen to bring her PPI experience to Women’s and Children’s Research.