Birmingham University researchers will give presentations about the type of work they do at SMQB (Centre for Systems Modelling and Quantitative Biomedicine) and they appreciate our feedback and ideas on how their presentations and ideas can be improved.
“THE VOICE FOR EPILEPSY” charity will act as one of the ‘amigo’ representatives, and will be acting as a critical friend, sharing our feedback, insights and ideas on how we can improve the research being done at the SMQB. Our perspective and experiences are will be really important to the SMQB.
There will be approx. 10 other members of the public/people with lived experience of different health conditions so I will not be the only person there with epilepsy.
The Voice For Epilepsy is helping the University of Birmingham with its research
13:00-13:05 Welcome from SMQB Director John Terry
13:05 -13:1 AMIGO Introductions: Briefly introduce yourself*
13:15-13:45 SMQB Research Theme Talks (2 x 15 minute talks)
13:45-14:25 Break Out Room Discussions
14.25-14.40 Comfort Break
14.40-15:10 SMQB Research Theme Talks (2 x 15 minute talks)
15:10-15:50 Break Out Room Discussions
15:50-16:00 Comfort Break
16:00-16:55 Prioritisation Activities
16:55-17:00 Close
Preparation in advance: There is minimal preparation required for this event. However, please note the following:
  • *Please be prepared to say your name and your motivation for taking part during the ‘AMIGO Introductions’ section. If you have lived experience of a health condition and are willing to share this openly, please do. However you are under no pressure to disclose this if you prefer not to. Please keep your introduction short in the interest of time, 3-4 few brief sentences would be ideal.
  • We suggest that you have a pen and paper on hand, as you may find it useful to take down a few notes during the talks or discussions.

  • We have provided you a prompt sheet which asks a few questions about your impressions of the talks. You may find it useful to read this in advance.

  • We have provided biographies on the research team and other staff who you will meet on the day. This helps us to save time as they will not need to introduce themselves one by one. You may find it useful too so that you know who is who.
  • We will use an online platform for the prioritisation activities. You will need to open a browser on your computer or else use your smartphone to participate. This will be explained further on the day, but no sign up is required and you can participate anonymously.
The Voice For Epilepsy's founder, Kasam Parkar, was an AMIGO representative at this University of Birmingham research event

How do AMIGO support our research?

  • Working with researchers to develop appropriate public engagement and involvement

  • Providing an alternate perspective so researchers better address societal priorities

  • Commenting on language used in public facing communications
  • Reviewing grant applications or draft proposals e.g. lay summaries
  • Collaborating with researchers to design or deliver future public engagement
  • Helping researchers prepare and practice for presentations, interviews or outreach
  • Sharing public platforms with us to ensure lived experience perspectives are
  • Facilitating engagement with specific non-academic communities e.g. patient groups
  • Supporting training or workshops aimed at helping researchers develop their skills

AMIGO Prompt Sheet

SMQB’S research is divided into four interconnected themes:

  • Mathematical and computational modelling in biomedical and clinical systems
  • Medical sensors and wearable devices
  • Neuroscience and neurology
  • Endocrinology, metabolism and reproduction

At our AMIGO event, each of the theme leads will give a talk about one of the themes, the type of research it covers and their initial ideas for public engagement. They will also present their research priorities for discussion later in the afternoon.

In total you will listen to 4 talks, each lasting 15 minutes. When listening to the talks, please consider the prompts below, used as the basis of our break out discussions.

  • How clear was the overall talk? Did they use a lot of complex language or forget to explain acronyms? Were research examples and priorities well explained? Were images or graphs easily to follow and relevant? Did the talk flow logically?
  • How engaged were you by the talk? Did you find the content of the talk interesting or compelling? Did you feel convinced by the need for or importance of the research? Were the speakers passionate and enthusiastic?
  • What did you think of their public engagement ideas? Do you have suggestions for how these could be more meaningful, impactful or useful? Can you offer ideas for how to reach specific audiences? What would make people want to take part in such activities? Are plans realistic within the timeframe or budget?

Important: This event is designed to gather your perspectives, expertise and insights. Feedback is therefore strongly welcomed, however we do ask that everyone tries to interact as politely and constructively as possible. It can be very discouraging if comments are fed back in a very negative or personal way. Please note that for several members of our research team, English is not a first language. If you find it difficult to follow what they are saying at times because of this, this can be fed back to me privately so that we can look at addressing this through further support or training, Additionally and very importantly, if you find that any of our team are dismissive or rude to you, please let me know on the day if you feel comfortable doing this or else after the event so that this can be raised anonymously and addressed. Respect goes both ways and everyone should feel valued and able to participate in a friendly environment. Please contact me if you have any questions or feedback postevent:

Caroline Gillett, Community & Public Engagement Manager.
Email: / Mobile: 07729294034

SMQB Biographies


Professor John Terry,
Director of the SMQB

Professor John Terry is the Director of the Centre for Systems Modelling and Quantitative Biomedicine (SMQB). He is Interdisciplinary Professorial Fellow: a post he holds jointly across Mathematics, Computer Science and the Institute for Metabolism and Systems Research. John’s research transcends traditional discipline boundaries speaking to mathematics, computer science, physics, biology, biomedical and clinical sciences. John has substantially contributed to approaching 70 pieces of original research and has a very strong track-record of research funding. John holds 1 patent with 2 pending, and is co-founder of Neuronostics (a start-up company established in 2018).

John sits on a number of national and international committees including the EPSRC peer-review college, the MRC non-clinical training and career development panel, the UKRI future leaders fellowship committee and the Epilepsy Research UK scientific advisory committee. John is also a passionate science communicator and co-wrote and codirected Beyond My Control: a unique piece of theatre that brings to life what it is like to have epilepsy, the mathematics behind understanding brain networks and how this can be used to better diagnose epilepsy.


THEME: Mathematical and computational modelling in biomedical and clinical systems

Dr Eder Zavala is an MRC Skills Development. His work focuses on interdisciplinary research spanning mathematics, physics, computer science, biology, biomedical and clinical sciences. In addition to his fellowship award, Eder has secured an ULTRADIAN EU Horizon 2020 secondment to revolutionise the diagnosis and management of endocrine conditions through the use of quantitative methods to analyse hormone rhythms. Eder is also passionate about public engagement and science communication, speaking in events such as Pint of Science and organising workshops towards the development of communities where researchers, clinicians and patients work together to address current challenges in neuroendocrinology.


Dr Eder Zavala


Dr Atif Shahzad

THEME: Medical sensors and wearable devices

Dr Atif Shahzad is a research fellow and lead for MSc Biomedical Innovation program at the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, University of Birmingham. He is associated with the Centre for Systems Modelling and Quantitative Biomedicine and also holds an honorary position at the National University of Ireland (NUI), Galway. Atif is interested in need-led health technology innovation with a focus on device-based therapies, monitoring and diagnostic technologies. He is a topic editor of MDPI Biosensors journal and frequent reviewer of Diagnostics, Sensors and several engineering journals.

THEME: Neuroscience and neurology

Dr Leandro Junges is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Systems Modelling and Quantitative Biomedicine (IMSR – UoB). He has a particular interest in the development and application of quantitative methods to help understanding biomedical systems and develop personalised predictions in healthcare, especially in the context of neuroscience.


Dr Leandro Junges


Dr Meurig Gallagher

THEME: Endocrinology, metabolism and reproduction

Dr Meurig Gallagher is an applied mathematician and Centre Fellow at the Centre for Systems Modelling and Quantitative Biomedicine. Meurig’s research concerns how mathematical modelling can be used to extract informative and accurate information from biomedical and clinical imaging data sets. He is particularly interested in creating tools for researchers and clinicians to use, and has released the software packages FAST – the world’s first fully automated system for high-throughput tracking of sperm flagella ( and NEAREST – a meshfree, regularised stokeslet code to solve Stokes flow problems in MATLAB ( Meurig spends a lot of time thinking about how the application of fluid dynamic modelling can help tackle problems in male fertility, a global problem that can have a direct impact on the quality of life for people everywhere. In 2018 Meurig was awarded the Iwan Lewis Jones Young Scientist prize (British Andrology Society) for his work developing FAST.


Dr Daniel Galvis is a biomathematician focusing on the simulation and analysis of dynamical systems to study how networks interact to generate complex behaviours. During his PhD, Daniel was focused on developing models of the neural architecture required for adult song production in zebra finches. He is currently working on developing biomarkers for epilepsy surgery using network
analysis and modelling techniques on non-invasive neuroimaging data, studying motility in microorganisms using molecular dynamics simulations, and developing
models of senescence in cultured human fibroblasts. He is also interested in applying these techniques to networks in endocrinology.


Dr Daniel Galvis


Dr Aravind Kumar Kamaraj

Dr Aravind Kumar Kamaraj is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Systems Modelling and Quantitative Biomedicine at the University of Birmingham. His research interests include dynamical systems, complex networks, and mathematical modelling. Aravind has research expertise in the modelling of nonlinear, non-autonomous dynamical systems, with applications in energy harvesting and aerospace engineering. Currently, at Birmingham, he is investigating the effect of external perturbations on self-excited systems in the context of neuroscience. Specifically, he is working on the modelling of human brain as a network of self-excited neuronal oscillators. He intends to explore the role of perturbations such as sleep and medicines on neuronal synchronization, and epileptic seizures.

Dr Isabella Marinelli is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Systems Modelling and Quantitative Biomedicine (Institute of Metabolism and System Research. Her research focuses on the development of mathematical models that can be used to understand the dynamics of complex biological systems and eventually to support clinicians in their decision-making process. Isabella’s work is at the interface between Mathematics, Biology, and Medicine. She is part of an interdisciplinary team, actively collaborating with medical doctors, physiologists, and experimentalists.


Dr Isabella Marinelli


Dr Paul Roberts

Dr Paul Roberts is a mathematical biologist who uses mathematical models to explain and predict the behaviour of biological and physiological systems, with a particular emphasis on modelling the healthy and the diseased retina. In addition to performing his own experiments, his work is conducted in close collaboration with experimental biologists, biomedical scientists and clinicians.

Dr Luke Tait is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Systems Modelling and Quantitative Biomedicine. His research involves using quantitative methods (dynamical systems, graph theory, time-series analysis, machine learning) and functional brain data (EEG, MEG) to study brain dynamics in neurological disorders such as epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. The aims of this research are to uncover neural mechanisms of brain disease and to develop methodologies to aid with diagnosis of disease.


Dr Luke Tait


Dr Patricia Thomas

Dr Patricia Thomas is an MRC Skills Development Fellow based in the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research (IMSR). Her research uses cutting-edge experimental and computational research methods to investigate the mechanisms underpinning obesity-induced type 2 diabetes (T2D). She is particularly interested in understanding how intracellular fatty acid storage, mobilisation, and metabolism cause insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells to become dysfunctional and die.

Dr David Tourigny has an interdisciplinary background in experimental, mathematical and computational biology. His research interests include the development and application of computational approaches to understand singlecell metabolism, and particularly the role of metabolic heterogeneity in cancer.


Dr David Tourigny


Dr Wessel Woldman

Dr Wessel Woldman’s central research focus is around applying mathematical techniques and computational models to clinical and health-care related problems with a strong focus on epilepsy and diabetes. Of interest is the dynamic behaviour of systems in the body, in understanding how transitions between pathological and healthy states occur and might be prevented. In particular, Wessel develops and analyses mathematical models and interrogates clinical and experimental data, in order to discern differences between healthy controls and people with epilepsy which could potentially decrease misdiagnosis and improve the prognosis for people with epilepsy.

Dr Alexander Zhigalov is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Systems Modelling and Quantitative Biomedicine, led by Professor John Terry. Dr Zhigalov has extensive training in the field of cognitive neuroscience, computer science and brain imaging. His main expertise is in the development of methods for neuroimaging data, particularly, to help understanding the functional role of neuronal oscillations and scale-free brain dynamics.


Dr Alexander Zhigalov


Professor Manfred Opper

Professor Manfred Opper is a professor of machine learning. He is interested in the development and the theoretical analysis of methods for probabilistic inference in machine learning using techniques of statistical mechanics and statistics. He is based at TU Berlin in Germany.

Professor Michael Biehl is an Honorary Professor of Machine Learning. His main research interests are theory of machine learning, algorithm development and applications in life sciences and astronomy. He is based at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.


Professor Michael Biehl


Professor Viktor Jirsa

Professor Viktor Jirsa is a Professor of Network Dynamics and Brain Sciences. Since the late 90s he has made contributions to the understanding of how network structure constrains the emergence of functional dynamics using methods from nonlinear dynamic system theory and computational neuroscience. He is based at the Institute de Neurosciences des Systèmes in Marseille, France


Dr Rebecca Ward is the Centre Manager. She supports the SMQB in the delivery of their research. She works with Professor John Terry to develop the Centre’s vision, strategy and delivery plan and to manage the Centre resources. Prior to joining the team, Rebecca worked for the Medical Research Council in London as a programme manager and previously for the UK Clinical Research Collaboration and the Royal Society in programme management and science policy roles.

dr ward

Dr Rebecca Ward

dr marsden

Dr Debbie Marsden

Dr Debbie Marsden is the Senior Research Manager. She supports SMQB researchers in all aspects of the research grant lifecycle, with a particular emphasis on large and complex bids, fellowships and industry funding opportunities. Debbie has joined us from the University of Exeter, where she was previously Senior Research Manager and Cluster Lead for Engineering and Physical Sciences.

Dr Caroline Gillett is the Community & Public Engagement Manager. She supports SMQB with its strategic research engagement ambitions. She works with researchers to devise, deliver and evaluate meaningful public engagement and patient involvement activities, crafted in collaboration with a range of community and creative partners – including our ‘critical friends’ the AMIGO group.

dr gillett

Dr Caroline Gillett


Kasam Parkar

Kasam Parkar founded The Voice for Epilepsy after he contracted the condition when he was 23 years old. Due to the severity of his seizures, he faced a variety of health problems including numerous hospital stays, memory loss and serious injuries. His epilepsy is now under control through medication and he decided to found The Voice for Epilepsy to help support others like him who are struggling with the condition. He was inspired by the realisation that many people are unaware of the condition and how common it is.

Due to the stigma around the condition, many are unaware of its prevalence. Part of the Voice for Epilepsy’s mission is to raise awareness around the condition while challenging stigma to ensure that those with the condition are treated more compassionately and humanely.

SMQB also features a number of other researchers working on specific projects or secondments, as well as PhD students. We focused this document on those you will be likely to meet at the event. Therefore this list is therefore not fully comprehensive, but you can find more details about all of our team on their website at


Few people are actually willing to step up and talk about Epilepsy. We need to make the world aware of the impact Epilepsy has on so many and find a cure. Without a cure, there are far too many people who will never have relief from seizures.