Research student, School of Psychology
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I am a PhD student working within the Behavioural Genetics Group in the School of Psychology at Cardiff University. I am interested in understanding the psychosocial impact of long-term dermatological conditons, to support the development of future clinical interventions. My research is specifically focused on X-linked icthyosis, a rare, congenital skin disorder, caused by a defieincy in the enzyme steroid sulfatase (STS). I am using a mixed-methods approach to better understand this condition, specifically employing survey-based methods, content anlalysis, and online cognitive testing.
If you are interested in finding out more about our research, or you would like to take part in our work, please get in touch via email@example.com or via my primary supervisor, William Davies, at firstname.lastname@example.org
My other research interests are focused around the application of Health Psychology, to better understand patient decision-making and treatment choices for those with complex conditions. I also have a keen research interest in translational research with a healthcare setting.
BSc Psychology (First Class Hons) Cardiff Metropolitan University 2016-2019
MSc Health Psychology (Distinction) Cardiff Metropolitan University 2019-2020
Widening Access, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, and External Engagement
As a first-gen, LGBTQ+ researcher, I beleive it is really important to promote and encourage accesible Higher Education opportunities to potential students from all backgrounds. I am committed to various roles of academic service and volnuteer to ensure accessibility and equity play a pivotal role in decision making within entry level academia and beyond.
STEM Learning - Ambassador (2021)
Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committe at Cardiff University - Postgraduate representative (2021)
PsyPAG Quarterly Journal - 'How I changed my approach to failure' (Issue 122) (June 22)
EY Gibraltar - International Women's Day Office Talks Series - 'What is endometriois?' (April 22)
Division of Academics, Researchers and Teachers of Psychology - PsyPAG Representative (2021-2023)
CAWR (Cardiff Metropolitan University) Early Career Community - Steering Group member (Feb 21-Current)
SkinCare Cymru - Volunteer (Feb 21 - Current)
Cardiff University’s Wellcome Trust Institutional Translation Partnership Award (ITPA) Management Group - ECR representative (Nov 20 - Current)
I am interested in researching the psychological effects of living with visible skin conditions, and my current work is focused on those affected by X-linked ichthyosis. This project is three-fold:
- Study 1: Investigating mood and neurodevelopmental disorder-associated traits in XLI, ichthyosis vulgaris and psoriasis
- Study 2: Investigating heart-related symptoms and attitudes towards heart screening in XLI
- Study 3: Investigating memory, cognitive functin and mood in icthyosis
I am conducting a mixed-methods project to investigate these aspects of XLI, as well as using qualitative data to explore the impact of these factors. I am also interested in further understanding the experiences of XLI-patients and clinicians, with particualr reference to their experiences in a primary care, and specilalist healthcare setting.
If you are interested in getting involved in our research, or hearing more about the project, please click here to get in touch.
1. Investigating mood and neurodevelopmental disorder-associated traits in XLI, ichthyosis vulgaris and psoriasis
- European Society of Dermatology and Psychiatry Conference 2021
Mood symptoms and neurodevelopmental traits, and their contributory factors in X-linked ichthyosis, ichthyosis vulgaris and psoriasis: Wren et al. (2022) Clinical and Experimental Dermatology doi:10.1111/ced.15116
I presented our study at ESDAP in July 2021 - 'An investigation into mood and neurodevelopmental disorder associated traits in X-linked ichthyosis, Ichthyosis Vulgaris and psoriasis'.
- If you are interested in viewing this presentation, please click here.
2. Investigating heart-related symptoms and attitudes towards heart screening in XLI
Wren, G., & Davies, W. (2022). Sex-linked genetic mechanisms and atrial fibrillation risk. European Journal of Medical Genetics, 104459.
Brcic, L., Wren, G. H., Underwood, J. F., Kirov, G., & Davies, W. (2022). Comorbid medical issues in X-linked ichthyosis. JID Innovations, 2(3).
I recently disseminated this work through an oral presentation at the Cardiff University Speaking of Science Confernce in May 2022, and I am due to present a poster at the European Conference on Rare Diseases in June 22.
3. Investigating memory, cognitive functin and mood in ichthyosis
We have recently begun to collect preliminary data for our next project, investigating the relationship between STS deficiency and memory, mood and cogntivie functioning. This work will continue until the end of 2022.
4. Young women's experiences of endometriosis
My previous postgraduate research investigated young women’s experiences of an endometriosis diagnosis and subsequent support, exploring how clinical practices can be improved and the role of complex care structures within this journey.
Dismissal, distrust and dismay: A phenemenological exploration of young women's diagnostic experiences with endometriosis and subsequent support: Wren & Mercer (2021) Journal of Health Psychology: doi: 13591053211059387
Health Psychology Symposium, City Unity College, Athens: Oral Presentation (Jan 21)
European Health Psychology Society Conference 2021: Oral Presentation (June 21)
Graduate Teaching Assistant – School of Psychology
Cardiff University Enriching Student Life Awards PGR Graduate Tutor - Winner (2022), Shortlisted (2021)
Psychological issues in congenital skin disorders
This research project will consist of three main studies, each investigating a different aspect of the psychological issues in congenital skin disorders. The first of these studies, employed an online Qualtrics survey to compare mood symptoms and associated risk factors in adults diagnosed with X-linked ichthyosis (XLI), Ichthyosis Vulgaris (IV) and Psoriasis.The survey will include a combination demographic questions, of six well-validated psychological questionnairres, and a custom-designed questionnaire to rate underlying factors related to mood. This study will: a) allow for quantification and comparison of mood disorders/traits within and between disorders for male and female participants, and b) allow us to determine which factors may contribute the most to these symptoms for each condition and to investigate whether these contributory factors differ by condition. As such, this work should help to identify the best targets for intervention/therapy to minimise the occurrence of mood problems associated with these skin conditions
The second part of this research project, used survey-based measures to explore the experiences of males with XLI, female XLI carriers, and parents of male children diagnosed with XLI, of cardiac arrhythmias and attitudes towards cardiac screening. Previous work has suggested an elevated rate of atrial fibrillation in male deletion carriers, and current research suggests that early cardiac screening procedures may reduce the risk of later complications, including stroke and heart failure. The goal of this study was to examine in detail the onset, treatment and severity of any heart problems (including arrhythmias) in both males and females affected by XLI, as well as trying to identify risk factors which commonly precipitated arrhythmic episodes. We hope that by understanding the characteristics, severity and potential risk factors contributing to heart arrhythmias in individuals affected by XLI, as well as attitudes towards the feasibility and usefulness of heart screenings, we can learn more about how heart issues develop in XLI, and how best they may be addressed clinically.
The third study of this project will be exploring the relationship between STS deficiency and cogntivie functioning, specifically mood and memory. Using a two-phased approach, we will be developing a baseline messure of cognition in individuals with XLI and IV, followed by an extensive exploration of in-depth neurological functioning using online neuropsychological testing.