The Connective Tissue

The Connective Tissue is a team of specialist staff with skills in research partnerships and stakeholder engagement, creative facilitation, operations, digital development and communications. It supports the Labs and Sites and delivers learning opportunities to Discovery Research Platform staff to expand and build capacity in the medical humanities field.

The team has expertise in the following core areas:

Research and Engagement

Cross-sector engagement and the development of new collaborative research proposals are a key focus of the DRP-MH.

Evelyn Tehrani (Senior Research and Engagement Manager) works with Lab and Site Leads to identify, sustain and develop relationships with potential research partners. This includes communities with lived experience of illness and disability, NHS and voluntary sector organisations, partner academic units, networks and institutions nationally and internationally.

Evelyn also develops learning and training opportunities to equip medical humanities researchers with the skills to support cross-sector partnership development and to effect policy or social change through their research. This includes cross-sector placement opportunities and a workshop series focused on sharing and developing innovative cross-sector research skills.

A Strategic Engagement Advisory Group led by Evelyn Tehrani and Akiko Hart advises on how platform activity and training engages non-academic partners. Membership of this group includes research leads from voluntary, health and academic sectors. Current members include Lisa Taylor (VONNE), Jenny Young (Centre for Mental Health), Wajid Khan (South West Yorkshire NHS Foundation Trust) and David Woodhead (Centre for Mental Health).


Evelyn Tehrani

Creative Facilitation

Creative Facilitation is the use of arts-based and experimental techniques to bring diverse people together to collaborate, take risks and form meaningful connections. Durham University is known internationally for its pioneering use of creative facilitation in interdisciplinary and cross sector research. The approach is central to our work at the Discovery Research Platform for Medical Humanities.

Our dedicated Creative Facilitation Unit is led by Mary Robson with Bentley Crudgington. They support the development of research projects and partnerships and also offer training in creative facilitation and participatory research methods.

Two people laughing sitting at a desk

Mary Robson

Digital Development & Communications

The Digital Development & Communications Unit supports the research team to use digital tools and approaches in the research process, including tools for interdisciplinary and cross sector collaboration, data collection, co-production and stakeholder engagement. 

Led by Victoria Patton, it also supports The Polyphony – a world leading online platform for research conversations across the medical humanities – and the development of field-building communications that capture and disseminate the learning and experimental processes developed in the Labs and Sites.

Rebecca Doggwiler is the Digital and Communications Officer.



Led by Carolyn Blake, the Operations Team supports the day-to-day running of the Discovery Research Platform, and includes expertise in recruitment, finance and event management. Team members include  David Sanders (Finance Officer), Arya Ray (Events and Fellows Co-ordinator), Yundi Go (Administrator) and Alona Srisarenko (General Administrator).