Early Stage Researchers

Research Fellows  (Early Stage Researchers) employed in MARATONE have multi-disciplinary background and expertise in areas such as: epidemiology, health economics, law, medicine, mental health systems and policy, psychology, psychiatry, and other health professions, political science, public health, and statistics. In the MARATONE they conduct research projects that have been designed to parallel the building blocks of the 2009 EU Resolution on Mental Health (EU, 2009):

  1. Mental health in youth and education
  2. Mental health of older people
  3. Prevention of depression and suicide
  4. Mental health in workplace setting
  5. Combating stigma and social exclusion


Research project 1: Web accessibility for persons with mental disorders

Mr Renaldo Bernard, Ludwig Maximilians University, Germany

r bernardMr Renaldo Bernard holds a BSc in Psychology from the University of the West Indies (UWI), an MSc in Psychology from the Nottingham Trent University and an MSc in Web Science from the University of Southampton. Following his first masters, Mr Bernard worked as an online behaviour specialist consulting for cornerstone Caribbean organisations including the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM – Caribbean’s union of 20 countries), Barbados Light & Power (Barbados’ largest energy company) and the Nation Publishing Company (Barbados’ largest news and general publishers). During this time Renaldo lectured in media and technology in education at the UWI for three years as well.

Now as a Marie Curie fellow at the Ludwig Maximilians University under the supervision of Prof. Alarcos Cieza and Dr. Carla Sabariego, Renaldo works on the BETTER (weB accEssibiliTy for people wiTh mEntal disoRders) project. BETTER is a collaborative effort involving relevant stakeholders – people with mental disorders, practicing professionals in the field, regulators, policymakers, academia – to determine whether current Web accessibility facilitation measures must be adapted for people with mental disorders and if so, in what way(s). It is anticipated that this knowledge will be used to help improve Web accessibility not only for people with mental disorders but also everyone else who uses the Web.


Research project 2: The added value of functioning information in predicting health service utilisation by people with mental disorders

Conal Twomey, University of Southampton, UK

CTwomey2Mr Conal Twomey: After initially completing a BA in Business & Sociology (in Trinity College Dublin) and working in the financial services sector, I returned to university (in University College Dublin) to pursue a career in psychology. In UCD, I completed a Higher Diploma in Psychology and a research masters (MLitt), which involved evaluating an online therapy programme for depression through a randomised controlled trial. During this time, I also worked as an Assistant Psychologist in a primary-care clinical psychology department in County Roscommon. Under the supervision of Professor Alarcos Cieza and Professor David Baldwin, my PhD examines the added value of functioning information in predicting health service utilisation by people with mental disorders. We are particularly interested in determining how much of the variance in this health service utilisation is explained by functioning compared with mental ill health severity.  Practically, the aim is provide evidence that can aid efficient and fair health service planning. I was motivated to join the MARATONE team because I wanted to develop my research skills alongside leading researchers from across Europe. It has been a great experience so far.


Research project 3: Interventions on psychosocial difficulties in depressive disorders

Kaloyan Kamenov, CIBER, Spain

kaloyanMr Kaloyan Kamenov: I hold a Master degree in Clinical and Developmental Psychopathology from VU Amsterdam. Before that I obtained a Master’s degree in Work and Organizational Psychology from Sofia University, Bulgaria. My Bachelor’s degree is in Classical Philology. Before joining MARATONE, I worked as a research assistant at VU Amsterdam.

Currently, I am part of  the CIBER, Madrid. Under the supervision of Prof. Ayuso-Mateos and Dr. Cabello, my project explores the whole spectrum of interventions on psychosocial difficulties in depressive disorders. Given the current state of evaluating efficacy of interventions, based primarily on symptom reduction, the main objective of the project is to broaden the measurement criteria by providing detailed information on the PSDs relevant to the available treatments. The multidisciplinary nature of the project, the possibility to be trained by top researchers in this field and to obtain excellent scientific expertise, and last, but not least – the chance to work on a topic I am deeply interested in make MARATONE a perfect choice to start my academic journey as a researcher.


Research project 4: The impact of biological, psychological, and social factors on disability, quality of life, and wellbeing in ageing neurological patients


Research project 5: Interventions addressing disability in schizophrenia

Izabela Nowak, Institute of Psychitry and Neurology, Poland

izabela_nowakMiss Izabela Nowak:  I hold a Master Degree in Psychology from the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw, a Master Degree in Clinical Psychology and CBT from Asociación Española de Psicología Clínica Cognitivo Conductual, a Postgraduate Certificate in Psychological Assistance from INTRA Centre in Warsaw and a Postgraduate Certificate in Social Sciences Research Methods from The Open University. I also completed courses in advanced experimental design and analysis, Applied Behavior Analysis, Solution Focused Brief Therapy, Client Centered Therapy and Statistics and SPSS. I have eight years of experience in the mental health field. Before joining the MARATONE Project I worked as a psychologist in Spain. Currently I hold the position of Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology in Warsaw where I work under the supervision of Prof. Marta Anczewska and Dr. Piotr Świtaj. My project involves development of a CBT based recovery- oriented intervention which aims to support schizophrenia suffers’ in their recovery journey and overcoming disabilities related to illness.   


Research project 6: Lifestyle and behavioural influences on cognitive ageing across cultures

Anamaria Brailean, King’s College London, United Kingdom

anamaria_braileanMiss Anamaria Brailean:  I hold a Bachelor degree in Psychology from A.I. Cuza University, Romania and a MSc in Clinical Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy from Babes-Bolyai University, Romania. During my Bachelor I spent one year as an exchange student at the University of Nancy 2, France, followed by another year at the University of Missouri, USA where I gained experience in experimental research and wrote my graduation research project on cognitive and emotional deficits in schizophrenia. My Master Thesis is about the effectiveness of a short intervention aimed to reduce memory biases in depression. After earning my Master’s degree I worked on a project on attention biases in depression at the University of Gent, Belgium. I am also certified as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and gained experience with psychological assessments and interventions during my supervised clinical practice across a variety of settings and patient groups.

I am currently working at King’s College London on a project related to risk factors for cognitive aging across cultures, based on data collected in large studies by the 10/66 Dementia Research Group, as well as data from the Longitudinal Ageing Study in Amsterdam at VU University Medical Centre. I applied to work as an early stage researcher within the MARATONE framework because I have an interest in global mental health, I like the trans-disciplinary approach of the project, and I am motivated to take advantage of this excellent opportunity for training, mentorship and international collaboration.


Research project 7: Mental health and well-being in the workplace: informing policy and practice

Ivana Ivandic, Ludwig Maximilians University, Germany

i ivandicMiss Ivana Ivandic obtained her Master’s degree in Psychology at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb on the topic of workplace bullying. During her studies she was involved in several research projects as an interviewer and gained valuable various working experience. After her studies she attended the Counselling skills training at Society for Psychological Assistance, Peace Studies education at Center for Peace Studies and research in rare diseases at Croatian Alliance for Rare Diseases. Prior to MARATONE she worked at the SUVAG Polyclinic with children with hearing difficulties and special language impairments. Since mental health and well-being at the workplace present a great field of her interest, she applied for the MARATONE ESR position. Within this project Ivana has the opportunity to further develop her interests in an international environment and gain new knowledge and skills in the field of mental health and well-being.

In MARATONE, Ivana is working on the third topic „Mental health and well-being in workplace settings“ with a special focus on development, implementation and evaluation of mental health and well-being prevention and promotion interventions at the workplace.


Research project 8: Understanding the economics of workplace mental health interventions

Rajendra Kadel, London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom

rajendra_kadalMr Rajendra Kadel: I completed my degree in Public health and master’s in sociology from Nepal. And, I worked with ministry of health and other health related organizations such as Merlin and Save the Children before graduating in Health Systems Master from Italy. Currently, I am working as a Marie Curie Research Fellow and MPhil/PhD student in Social Policy at London School of Economics through MARATONE Program. 



Research project 9: Self-harm thoughts and behaviour in adolescents: the influence of psychological and social factors

Marco Bennardi, National Suicide Research Foundation, Ireland

marco_bennardiMr Marco Bennardi graduated from School of Psychology Master’s Degree Program at University of Florence (Italy), with a degree in Clinical and Health Psychology on 28 February 2012. His thesis, from which an abstract was published in the journal Psychology & Health, is concerned with the relationship between negative affectivity and withdrawal symptom during smoking cessation. After graduation, he spent 6 month internship as a researcher assistant, participating in a research project focused upon infants’ emotional development, at the University of Surrey (United Kingdom).

He completed a Postgraduate Specialisation and Advanced Professional Training Course in School and Learning Disabilities Psychology at the University of Florence in November 2013, with an experimental survey on the relationship between anxiety and learning disabilities in children and adolescents. Furthermore, he has almost five years of experience working in local psychosocial and educational environments. He also spent 6 months in Neubrandenburg (Germany) at a European exchange program in a social field.

He applied for the position at National Suicide Research Foundation Ireland because he has an enormous interest in Clinical Psychology and Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry. He is interested in doing research that could help to prevent mental disorders and addictions, especially in young people.


Research project 10: The impact of social networks, social support and social connectedness in mental disorders and their associated burden

Ziggi  Ivan Santini, Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Déu, Spain

ziggi_santiniMr Ziggi Santini is an early stage researcher working at the Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Déu in Barcelona. His project focuses on the impact of social context variables on the risk of mental disorders. He holds an addiction counselor certificate, a bachelor’s degree with a triple major in psychology, criminology and religious studies, and a master’s degree in public health. Prior to MARATONE, he has professional experience from a healthcare innovation research institute in Spain, the Danish social psychiatry, and a rehabilitation unit for alcohol and drug addiction at a Danish hospital in Copenhagen. Ziggi applied for the vacancy within MARATONE because of his wish to specialize in the area of mental health, with a specific focus on research into depression and anxiety from a social, societal, regional, and population-based perspective. 


Research project 11: Development, implementation and evaluation of a media-based intervention to promote mental health awareness at work

Sabine Hanisch, Siemens, Germany

sabine_hanishMiss Sabine Hanisch  holds a BSc of Psychology from Rijksuniversiteit Groningen and an MSc of Organisational Psychiatry & Psychology from King’s College London. Additionally, she acquired qualifications in psychometric testing which can be applied in recruitment, coaching and personnel development. In internships, she gained practical experience in the field of clinical psychology (dolphin-assisted therapy; eating disorders amongst children and teenagers) as well as in organisational psychology (personnel development).

In MARATONE, Sabine is working on the fourth topic ‘Mental Health in the Workplace’ with a particular focus on the awareness as well as the destigmatization of mental health problems at work. She applied for the MARATONE Research Fellow position in order to continue developing expertise in both organisational and clinical psychology. Her desire is to test scientifically sound interventions in a real work setting such as Siemens provides.


Research project 12: The implementation of human rights in mental health. Enhancing the participation of persons with mental health problems in court proceedings

Marie Fallon-Kund, SPF, Switzerlannd

marie_fallon-kundMs Marie Fallon-Kund started in September 2013 as a Marie Curie Maratone Research Fellow at the Swiss Paraplegic Research, under the supervision of Prof. Jerome Bickenbach. Her PhD Project focuses on the implementation of human rights in mental health, and more specifically on the enhancement of the participation of persons with mental health problems in court proceedings. It compares the implementation of the articles 12 and 13 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities across different jurisdictions in order to consider how the persons with mental health problems can best be supported and accommodated to effectively and fairly participate in litigation.

Marie obtained her Law Degree at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in 2008 and followed an additional Master in Human Rights at the ‘Académie de Louvain’, Belgium. The past four years she worked as a lawyer, mainly in the areas of migration law and criminal law, at the Brussels bar (Belgium) as well as in Madrid (Spain).


Research project 13: A Cross-National Study on Gender Differences in Suicidal Intent

Aislinne Freeman, University of Leipzig, Germany

a freemanAislinne’s background is in Psychology, where she has obtained a Bachelors and a Master’s Degree. She completed two dissertations during her education. Her Bachelor’s Degree focused on implicit racial attitudes, and her Master’s Degree evaluated the efficacy of Focused Retrieval for memory enhancement. Her professional experience is vast, and varies from working within the area of intellectual disabilities, where she pioneered a behavioural support service for people with intellectual disabilities, to volunteering as a mental health consultant in Kenya, where she established a community-based mental health support group called “HOPE”, for people in the community suffering from depression. Her clinical experience also involves working as an assistant psychologist in a busy secondary-care clinical psychology department in Dublin, where her role involved administering clinical assessments to clients, facilitating mental health support groups, writing clinical reports and attending training and supervision. Aislinne has received training in a number of areas including Children’s First training, statistics and SPSS, and ASSIST (Suicide Prevention) to name but a few. During her professional career, was heavily involved in a number of capacities in Pieta House: the Suicide and Self-Harm Crisis Centre, and this experience has motivated her to specialise within the area of suicide and self-harm.

Aislinne applied for the role of ESR with the MARATONE project as she is passionate about mental health, and having the unique opportunity to gain high-level training in mental health, and specifically within the area of self-harm and suicide from a multidisciplinary network of professionals with profound expertise, was hugely appealing. The research that she is currently undertaking identifies with this passion, and focuses on depression and deliberate self-harm. Her current focus is on exploring gender differences in suicidal intent within a cross-national sample, and also in identifying the barriers in assessing suicidal intent in deliberate self-harm presentations in hospitals. Aislinne has revealed that she finds it highly motivating to be contributing to an area of research that has important implications for the future of mental health in Europe, and she hopes to work in the field of policy implementation in the future.


Research project 14: Trends and interactions of risk factors in psychotic disorders – Northern Finland Birth Cohort studies

Svetlana Filatova, University of Oulu, Finland

svetlana_filatovaMiss Svetlana Filatova: I have MSc in Public Health Epidemiology from Karolinska Institutet and BSc in psychology from St.Petersburg State University. My Master Thesis is about effectiveness of brief intervention aimed at harmful alcohol use and I also worked with alcohol policies’ analysis during my internship at the World Health Organization. My MARATONE PhD project is about risk factors in psychotic disorders in Northern Finland Birth Cohort studies 1966 and 1986. I applied for this position because I am passionate about mental health research, enjoy working in multicultural environments and believe that international knowledge exchange is essential for scientific development.