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Dr Rachel McNamara

Dr Rachel McNamara

Director for Mind, Brain and Neuroscience Trials and Principal Research Fellow

+44 (0)29 2068 7614
418B, Neuadd Meirionnydd, University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4YS
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am a Chartered Psychologist and trials methodologist, experienced in the development and delivery of behavioural interventions and clinical trials of Investigational Medicinal Products, with a focus on neurodevelopment (intellectual disability and autism) and mental health (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; psychosis; adolescent depression).

My post encompasses two roles: as Deputy Director of the Mind, Brain and Neuroscience division within the Centre for Trials Research (CTR), and as Head of Trial Management across the four divisions of CTR (Mind, Brain and Neuroscience; Population Health; Infection, Inflammation and Immunity; Cancer).


Education and qualifications:

  • PhD Occupational/Health Psychology, Cardiff University, 2008
  • MSc Occupational Psychology, Cardiff University, 1998
  • Bsc (Hons) Psychology, Cardiff University, 1997 (2:1)

Honours and awards

  • Chartered Pyschologist, Bristish Psychological Society, 2016
  • Associate Fellow, British Psychological Society, 2016

Professional memberships

  • UK Society of Behavioural Medicine: Executive Committee Member 2017-2021
  • Bristish Pyschological Society: Graduate Member and Member of the Division of Health Psychology 2000-present

Academic positions

  • 2016 - 2019: Senior Research Fellow / Head of Trials Management, Centre for Trials Research, Cardiff University
  • 2006 - 2016: Research Fellow / Senior Trial Manager, South East Wales Trials Unit (SEWTU), Cardiff University
  • 2005 - 2006: Research Associate, Dept of Primary Care & Public Health, School of Medicine, Cardiff University
  • 2000 - 2005: Research Associate, Centre for Occupational & Health Psychology, School of Psychology, Cardiff University
  • 1999 - 2000: Research Assistant, Centre for Occupational & Health Psychology, School of Psychology, Cardiff University

Committees and reviewing

  • Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF) Collaboration panel member
  • Grant reviewer, NIHR
  • Journal reviewer, Trials, BMC Public Health, Journal of Intellectual Disability Research



















I am an external examiner for the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine MSc in Clinical Trials.


Behavioural interventions to treat anxiety in adults with autism and moderate to severe intellectual
disabilities (BEAMS – ID). NIHR HTA, £197,421 (Co-Investigator).

Specific phobias in children with learning disabilities (SPIRIT): An adaptation and feasibility study. NIHR HTA, £199,193 (Co-Investigator).


The STanding up fOR Myself (STORM) psychosocial group intervention for young people and adults
with intellectual disabilities: Feasibility study. NIHR PHR, £623,805 (Co-Investigator).

A randomised feasibility study of a school-based emotional literacy programme (Zippy's Friends) for
children with intellectual disabilities. NIHR PHR, £553,071 (Co-Investigator).


TAPERS: Treating Anxiety to PrevEnt Relapse in Schizophrenia (TAPERS) - a feasibility trial. Research for Patient and Public Benefit Wales £229,865 (Co-Investigator).


Early Positive Approaches to Support (E-PAtS for families of young children with intellectual disability: Feasibility Study. NIHR HTA, £644 (Co-Investigator).

Pragmatic RCT of Sensory Integration Therapy versus usual care for sensory processing difficulties in Autism Spectrum Disorder in children: impact on behavioural difficulties, adaptive skills and socialisation (SenITA). NIHR HTA, £1,193,553 (Chief Investigator).

Pragmatic RAndomised controlled trial of a trauma-focused guided self-help Programme versus InDividual Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (RAPID- TFCBT). NIHR HTA, £1,135,331 (Co-Investigator).


Clinical Trials Unit infrastructure funding 2015-18. Health & Care Research Wales, £2.9m (Co-Investigator).

Who’s Challenging Who: A cluster randomised controlled trial of a staff training intervention to improve support staff attitudes and empathy towards adults with learning disability and challenging behaviours. NIHR School for Social Care Research, £303,392 (Co-Investigator).


Identifying treatment Side effects in adults with Intellectual Disability and Epilepsy: Development of a Patient-Reported Outcome Measure for identification of Anti-Epileptic Drug side effects (SIDE-PRO). Epilepsy Research UK, £97,924 (Chief Investigator).


Antipsychotic drug reduction in primary care for adults with learning disabilities. A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial (ANDREA-LD). NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme, £1,445,854 (Co-Investigator).


A randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled study of Everolimus in the treatment of neurocognitive problems in tuberous sclerosis (TRON). Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK, £353k (Co-Investigator).


I am interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of:

  • intellectual disability
  • autism
  • mental health

Current Phd student:

Glarou, E: Multi-Party Communication in Therapy Sessions. School of Medicine PhD scheme.

Past projects

Co-Supervisor (33%) for Lauren Copeland: Understanding the therapeutic process: mechanisms of motivational interviewing in weight loss maintenance (PhD awarded 2015).

Co-Supervisor (50%) for Christina Louis: A review of the most effective behaviour change techniques used for long term weight loss amonf overweight and obese adults (MPH awarded 2012).