About US

Our Mission

The Northern Ireland Complex Disease BioResource (NICDB) is a project to establish a repository of samples from individuals suffering from or suffered from complex diseases. In addition samples are being sought from healthy participants for control samples.

Ulster University, supported by the Health and Social Care (HSC), have established a province wide BioResource for health research, with the aim of improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of serious and life-threatening illnesses – including heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, depression, anxiety and forms of dementia.

The NI-CDB aims to provide a resource to support physical and psychological health research.

We plan to:

  • Collect a repository of psychological data (questionnaire data) and biological samples (e.g. saliva, blood or urine) to help scientists discover why some people develop particular diseases and others do not.
  • Have the opportunity to link members’ psychological and biological data with their medical records.
  • Create an online resource of members interested in taking part in research.
  • Provide members with information about research projects that they can get involved in.
  • Regularly update members on the progress of the research and the contribution that they have made.

Who we are

Professor Cherie Armour
NICDB Lead (Mental Health)

Cherie Armour is a Professor of Psychological Trauma and Mental Health in the School of Psychology at Ulster University. Professor Armour also directs the Institute of Mental Health Sciences. Cherie has published extensively (>120) in the field of Psychotraumatology and Mental Health; conducting research with many traumatised groups. Cherie has also published on the nosology, comorbidity, and longitudinal course of disorders such as PTSD, dissociation, anxiety, and depression. Recently Professor Armour has focused on research that investigates the mechanisms that explain risk and resilience as it relates to a wide variety of mental health outcomes. A new and exciting line of research enquiry relates to the underpinning mechanisms explaining the relationship between sleep and mental health outcomes such as PTSD.

Victor Gault
Professor Victor Gault
NICDB Deputy Lead (Physical Health)

Professor Victor Gault, PhD, is Professor of Experimental Medicine and Head of School of Biomedical Sciences, Ulster University. Victor has over 18 years’ experience in diabetes research with specific expertise in brain-gut peptides. Victor has published over 170 scientific articles in high impact peer-reviewed journals (h-index of 37 and 3956 total citations), presented his research at numerous national / international conferences and has attracted significant external research funding. He has also been recipient of several prestigious awards for his research including: Distinguished Research Fellowship (Ulster University), Nick Hales Young Investigator Award (Diabetes UK), European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Rising Star Award, and RD Lawrence Lecturer Award (Diabetes UK).

Ruth Price
Dr Ruth Price
NICDB Research Ethics and Governance Officer

Dr Ruth Price is responsible for the ethics and governance aspects of the NICDB.  Following her primary degree in Food Science and Technology, Ruth completed her PhD in nutrition at Ulster University.  She currently works at the Biomedical Science Research Institute, Ulster University, in the role of Clinical Trials Manager and has ~20 years’ experience in conducting human intervention trials and the practical, ethical and legislative issues associated with this work.  Ruth is also an active researcher within the Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE) and her current research projects include work in under- and over- nutrition, and in the development of a novel tool for the diagnosis and treatment of dementia.

Le Roy Dowey
Dr Le Roy Dowey
NICDB Business Development Manager

Dr Le Roy Dowey holds a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry from Queen’s University Belfast. He obtained his PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry studying the effects of nutrition on the immune function in adult Cystic Fibrosis patients at Ulster University in 2003. Le Roy held a number of post-doctoral research positions within Ulster’s Biomedical Sciences Research Institute (BMSRI) before being appointed as the Institute’s Quality Assurance Officer (QAO). In that role, he set up and developed the Core Facility Units which support academic and commercial research. He has worked with a wide range of companies from SMEs to multinationals to deliver Innovation Vouchers and commercial contract research.
Since 2012 Le Roy has worked with colleagues to deliver major research and innovation funding into the region. In 2015, Le Roy became Business Development Manager at Ulster University’s BMSRI where he manages an expert team of Scientific Assistants/Officers and the Core Facility Units within the Institute.

Keith Thomas
Keith Thomas
NICDB Scientific Officer

Mr Keith Thomas is the BioResource Scientific Officer of the NICDB. Keith is Scientific Assistant for cell technologies and Human Tissue Act storage facilities. Keith’s primary research interests span basic through to clinical testing. His research focuses on cellular modelling and flow cytometry in the areas of cancer, immune function and diabetes.


Gerome Breen
GLAD study Chief Investigator

Gerome is a psychiatric geneticist working on the genetics of affective (mood) disorders, psychosis and eating disorders. One of the most important goals for his research is to discover the biological basis of common psychiatric disorders, which will allow better drug discovery and biomarker studies in mental health. Not only that but they can also be used to improve estimations of response to psychological treatments and to help improve clinical trial approaches. Because someone’s DNA sequence does not change after diagnosis or treatment, genetics is often the best approach for this. Gerome leads the NIHR Maudsley BioResource centre, part of the NIHR BioResource and the KCL Maudsley BRC. A BioResource is a biobank – a repository of biological samples for medical research – whose participants can be contacted to take part in studies, and whose samples can be used to study the molecular basis of psychiatric and neurological disorders. Gerome is currently running The Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression or GLAD study with his close collaborator Prof Thalia Eley.

Jana Ross
Dr Jana Ross

Dr Jana Ross is a research associate in Mental Health at Ulster University. Jana originally joined Ulster as a member of staff in September 2016. She completed her BSc in Psychology at The University of Liverpool and an MSc in Foundations of Clinical Psychology at Bangor University. After that she worked as a Therapeutic care worker in Residential Community Care Ltd., supporting adults with learning disabilities and autism. Jana then completed her PhD, which focused on assessing the diagnostic criteria for Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dr Ross has a strong publication record in the field trauma and mental health, particularly PTSD and dissociation. Jana has secured external funding to support her programme of research and also supervises a number of PhD researchers focused on Mental Health. Jana is a member of the editorial board of the European Journal of Psychotraumatology and sits on the local organising committees of a number of high profile European conferences such as the European Conference on Mental Health and the European Society of Traumatic Stress Studies.

Dr Ciaran Shannon
Dr Ciaran Shannon

Dr Ciaran Shannon is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist in The Northern Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland. He has previously worked in Queens University Belfast for over ten years. His area of specialism for well over 20 years is in psychological intervention and service provision to those with a diagnosis with severe mental health problems. His particular research interest is on the effect that trauma (including “Troubles-related” trauma) has on the presentation of these problems. He has over 40 peer reviewed publications. Currently he manages specialism mental health psychology services, leads on the only psychosis prevention team on the island of Ireland and manages the Trust’s Centre of Mental Health Research