About the Scientific Foundation Board

The RCGP Scientific Foundation Board supports high quality primary care research studies, and awards grants for research relevant to general medical practice and primary care.

Any GP, primary healthcare professional, or university-based health services researcher may apply for a grant for scientific research, relevant to primary care, to be undertaken in the UK.

The SFB offers three avenues for funding:

  • Practitioner's Allowance Grants (PAGs),
  • Annual Research Grants, 
  • Fellowships with selected partners 

RCGP Scientific Foundation Board Members

Prof Richard Neal, Chair, RCGP Scientific Foundation Board

Professor Richard Neal Richard is a Professor of Primary Care Oncology at the University of Leeds and a part-time GP at an inner-city Leeds practice. He leads research around the interface of primary care and cancer, especially around the early detection of cancer in general practice. He leads the Leeds hub of the CanTest Collaborative, funded by a Cancer Research UK Catalyst award.

Richard is Chief Investigator of the WICKED Research Programme (Wales Interventions and Cancer Knowledge about Early Diagnosis). He leads one of the eight hubs of the Department of Health Policy Research Unit for Cancer Screening, Awareness, and Early Diagnosis. He is a founding executive member of Ca-PRI (Cancer and Primary Care International Research Network).

Dr Imran Rafi – Honorary Secretary of the Scientific Foundation Board

Dr Imran Rafi Imran is Senior lecturer at St George’s University of London. He is a GP and qualified from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1988.

Prior to this, in 1983, he completed a Bachelor's degree in Computing Science. After general medical rotations in Newcastle, Dr Rafi went on to complete a PhD in Medical Oncology and then switched to General Practice training. Dr Rafi became a Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) in 2000 and shortly afterwards completed a Master’s degree in at St George’s in Public Health Medicine. In 2017 he was awarded Fellowship of the RCGP.

Imran is joint RCGP Clinical Champion for Genomics and an Academy of Medical Royal Colleges champion in Genomics. In 2017 he completed a Master’s degree in Genomics from the University of Cambridge. Dr Rafi is also Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.

Prof Carolyn Chew-Graham

Professor Carolyn Chew-Graham Carolyn is a GP principal in Central Manchester, Professor of General Practice Research at Keele University, and Honorary Professor of Primary Care Mental Health at South Staffs and Shropshire Foundation Trust.

Her main areas of interest and expertise include the management of patients with depression, multi-morbidity and unexplained symptoms.

Carolyn has qualitative research methods expertise, drawing on theories from both social sciences and psychology, but always with a focus on clinical practice.

She is the RCGP ‘Curriculum Advisor for mental mealth’, on a number of National Institute for Health Research funding panels, and currently a member of the NICE Clinical Guideline Groups Depression (update) and Multi-morbidity - work which directly impacts on commissioning decisions and patient care.

Professor Hazel Everitt

Professor Hazel Everitt Hazel is a GP and clinical academic in primary care at the University of Southampton. She is co-deputy head of the School of Primary Care and Population Sciences, University of Southampton and academic training lead.

Her research focuses on conditions that span the boundary of self-care and primary care with a particular focus on digital interventions and supporting self-management, particularly in Irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia and minor illness. She also has an interest in the implementation of research into practice and in the use of placebos, contextual effects and communication within the consultation. She has expertise in running large clinical trials in primary care.  She also is co-author of the Oxford Handbook of General Practice. A handbook that aims to provide a concise synthesis of the best evidence, guidelines and sources of further information, to help GPs manage the broad range of conditions seen in primary care.

Hazel was awarded the RCGP John Fry Award for Contribution to the Discipline of General Practice through research and publishing in May 2016. Hazel undertakes her clinical GP in Southampton and loves the variety and challenges of a clinical academic career. “Improving evidence for managing common conditions, translating research findings into primary care settings and supporting self-help has the potential to make a significant difference to patient’s lives” 

Dr Helen Atherton

Dr Helen Atherton Helen is Associate Professor of Primary Care Research and Digital Health lead at the Unit of Academic Primary Care, Warwick Medical School. Helen’s expertise is in use of digital routes of access to general practice, and alternatives to the face-to-face consultation, such as email and video for consultation. She is a member of the NHS England Primary Care Digital Transformation Advisory Board.  Helen leads studies that focus on how digital technologies impact on patients and healthcare professionals in general practice settings. She is experienced in qualitative methodology, review methodology and the evaluation of complex interventions.


Toto Gronlund

Toto Gronlund Toto is a freelance consultant and has been working with the James Lind Alliance since early 2017. Toto currently supports nine JLA Priority Setting Partnerships, in the UK and internationally.

Previously Toto had a 30-year career with the National Health Service in the UK, including running clinical trials; clinical work as a Medical Physicist; research into non-invasive diagnostics; Patient and Public Engagement;  national projects in health informatics and health economics.

Toto is an associate editor for the British Medical Journal of Health and Care Informatics, and a member of the Royal College of GPs Scientific Foundation Board.

Dr Sophie Park

Dr Sophie Park Sophie is a practising GP in Hertfordshire and Fellow of the RCGP. She is Director of Undergraduate Medical Education (Community and Primary Care) UCL Medical School, and Head of Teaching for UCL Research Dept. of Primary Care and Population Health at UCL. She is training lead and a PI for the NIHR School of Primary Care Research 'Evidence Synthesis Working Group' examining primary care work organisation and design, and its implications for capacity building and development of a sustainable workforce.

Sophie was awarded highly commended Yvonne Carter RCGP/SAPC in 2015. She is Chair of the Society of Academic Primary Care (SAPC) Education Research Group and is Co-Director of the London Best Evidence in Medical Education (BEME) International Collaboration Centre (BICC). Her research includes both qualitative and evidence synthesis methods, and her academic roles include a range of doctoral, post-doctoral and undergraduate supervision; research about sustainability (including training and education) and organisation of primary health care; and design and delivery of the MBBS general practice curriculum.

Dr Sarah Tonkin-Crine, PhD CPsychol

Dr Sarah Tonkin-Crine Sarah is a registered health psychologist and senior researcher. Her research focusses on developing and evaluating behavioural interventions to improve healthcare delivery and patient health outcomes. She has expertise in using behavioural science and mixed methods approaches alongside clinical trials related to tackling antibiotic resistance. Her particular interest is in supporting clinician behavior change to help deliver best practice.

Sarah has previously led a number of international qualitative studies looking at health service delivery and clinician behaviour change across multiple European countries.  She is responsible for leading behavior research projects within the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Healthcare Associated Infections and Antibiotic Resistance at the University of Oxford in partnership with Public Health England. She is also an expert advisor on behavior for the UK Department of Health’s Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Prescribing, Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infections (APRHAI).

Dr James Prior

Dr James Prior James is a lecturer in epidemiology in the School of Primary, Community and Social Care at Keele University, and an executive committee member for the Society for Academic Primary Care. As an epidemiologist, he works within the Inflammatory Condition Programme, focusing on primary care research across a variety of rheumatological conditions. James has researched epidemiological aspects of health in several different inflammatory condition groups, including axial spondyloarthritis, giant cell arteritis (GCA), and gout. His current research interests focus on two areas in the context of inflammatory condition, firstly the impact they have on patients’ psychological health and secondly, understanding the reasons why diagnoses of inflammatory conditions are so often delayed.


Dr Kathryn Hughes

Kathryn is a Senior Clinical Research Fellow, PRIME Centre Wales, Division of Population Medicine, School of Medicine, Cardiff University. She is a GP and Senior Clinical Research Fellow at Cardiff University. Kathryn co-leads the Infection Work package in PRIME Centre Wales. Her main research interest is in the diagnosis and management of common infections in primary care, particularly urinary tract infections. She is also interested in the assessment of ill children, antimicrobial resistance and the urinary microbiome.

Dr Mark Lown

Mark is a Clinical Lecturer in medicine at the University of Southampton and a GP at Highfield Health in Southampton. Dr Lown, recently held an NIHR in-practice fellowship at Southampton and has current interests in nutrition and cardiovascular medicine research in primary care.

Dr Julia Hiscock

Julia is a research fellow at Bangor University, based at the North Wales Centre for Primary Care Research in Wrexham. Before this, she was a research fellow in the departments of primary care in the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester.

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