Jane’s background is in Developmental Psychology. She gained her BSc (Hons) in Psychology from The University of Sheffield in 2013 and her MSc in Development, Disorders and Clinical Practice from The University of York in 2014. She then completed her PhD in Psychology at the University of Leeds from 2014-2018. Jane’s research investigated the relationship between sleep, physical activity, cognitive function and psychosocial well-being in children with narcolepsy. Following this, Jane conducted a longitudinal follow up study of the children with narcolepsy (who participated in her doctoral research) funded by a Wellcome Trust ISSF Early Career Fellowship, before joining the Child Oriented Mental health Intervention Centre (COMIC) research team in January 2019.
My role in the COMIC team involves coordinating and supporting the submission of grant applications and papers for publication. In addition, I lead a systematic review of early support interventions for parent of deaf infants.
Jane is particularly interested in the effects of disturbed sleep on daytime functioning, social relationships and psychological well-being. Jane is also interested in the development and application of interventions to improve quality of life for sufferers of narcolepsy and other sleep disorders.
In the COMIC research team, I lead on a systematic review focussed on early interventions for parents of deaf infants (funded by NIHR RfPB). I am also coordinating the set up of The White Rose Child and Adolescent Sleep Research Network (funded by a White Rose Collaboration award).
My role also involves coordinating and supporting the submission of grant applications and papers for publication.
Public involvement in research event with children with narcolepsy and their parents (July 2017)
Our Level 3 Psychology PhD student, Jane Blackwell, arranged a public involvement event with children with narcolepsy and their parents from Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Public involvement in research is defined as “research being carried out ‘with’ or ‘by’ members of the public rather than ‘to’, ‘about’ or ‘for’ them”. The purpose of this event was to discuss a future research idea with the families, in order to gather their expert feedback on the importance and relevance of the research proposal.
The event took place on Saturday 8th July at the Holiday Inn in Rotherham. The event was funded by a grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research Design Service for Yorkshire and the Humber (RDSYH). The proposed research has been designed as part of a new collaboration between the SleepResearch@Leeds team (Jane Blackwell, Dr Hannah Nash, Dr Anna Weighall & Dr Ian Kellar) and the Clinical Sleep Team from Sheffield Children’s Hospital (Professor Heather Elphick, Dr Ruth Kingshott & Janine Reynolds).
16 children and 25 adults took part in the public involvement event which lasted approximately one hour. At the start of the session, Jane presented an overview of the proposed research to the families. The format of the presentation was based on the popular TV show “Dragon’s Den” where an idea or invention is pitched to a panel of experts. The audience were told they are the “narcolepsy experts” and that the research team really needed their feedback on a research idea. After this 15 minute presentation, the audience were split into age- appropriate groups and the research idea was discussed in further detail.
The participants found the proposal acceptable but were also able to suggest very useful enhancements to the study design. Jane and the research team are very grateful to the families for their helpful feedback and suggestions. Positive changes have been made to the research idea as a result of this event.
Jane would like to thank the Clinical Sleep Team from Sheffield Children’s Hospital for allowing this event to be part of their annual “Narcolepsy Family Day”.
Fellowship updates from successful applicants (January 2017)
Jane Blackwell-School of Psychology
I was delighted to be awarded a Wellcome Trust ISSF Early Career Researcher Fellowship which will enable me to stay on at The University of Leeds following my PhD. This fellowship will provide an invaluable opportunity for me to continue the research programme I designed during my PhD called “The Paediatric Narcolepsy Project”.
This study examined the relationship between sleep, activity, school performance and well-being in children with narcolepsy. I visited 23 children with narcolepsy and 23 healthy gender and age matched controls and during my visit the children underwent standardised neuropsychological assessment, a full home sleep recording and wore an actigraphy watch to measure activity levels for 7 days. During my fellowship, I plan to follow up this unique cohort of children (who have taken part in my doctoral research) in order to measure cognitive function and psychological well-being two years after their baseline data was collected.
I plan to use the time during my fellowship to develop my skills as researcher, to build new collaborations and to apply for an external post-doctoral fellowship.
Psychology come top in prestigious University awards
Jane Blackwell named Postgraduate Researcher of the Year.’Showcase’ is the University of Leeds annual showcase and celebration of excellence in postgraduate research. From a shortlist of 13 exceptional candidates Jane Blackwell was named University of Leeds Postgraduate Researcher of the Year 2016 following her presentation on the ‘The Paediatric Narcolepsy Project’.
Research project about children with narcolepsy needs volunteers. Narcolepsy UK, Blog (May 2016)
The Paediatric Narcolepsy Project research programme is investigating school performance and well-being in children with narcolepsy aged 8-16 years old. The project has been set up by The University of Leeds and has received ethical approval from the School of Psychology's Research Ethics Committee (ref: 15-0198, date: 03.08.15). The research is taking place in the United Kingdom and in the Republic of Ireland. They are still looking for families across the UK and Republic of Ireland to take part in this research.
Do you get enough sleep? Good Morning Britain, ITV (October 2015)
More than a quarter of the British population suffer from dangerously low levels of sleep - with many sleeping as little as five hours per night. A study by the University of Leeds found that 25% of 30 to 50 year olds admit they are dissatisfied with their sleep. When asked about their previous night's sleep nearly 25% of Brits reported sleeping less than five hours.
Katy Rickitt visited the Sound Asleep Laboratory at The University of Leeds. Jane Blackwell and Tamsin Margary set up the portable polysomnography equipment in this TV report.
The equipment used in this TV report was funded by the following grant:
Nash, H. Weighall, A. Kellar, I. & Blackwell, J. (2015) Using a portable, objective measure of sleep to investigate the relationship between sleep, cognition and psychosocial well-being in paediatric narcolepsy. Child Brain Research ‘Seedcorn’ funding. (£7,500)
Blackwell, J.E., Kingshott, R.N., Weighall, A.R., Elphick, H.E. & Nash, H.M. (2018) The Paediatric Narcolepsy Project: The relationships between sleep, physical activity, cognitive function and psychosocial well-being in children with narcolepsy. Poster presented at The International Paediatric Sleep Association Conference, Paris, France.
Blackwell J.E. (2017) Actigraphy data analysis. Workshop delivered to Postgraduate Research Students in the School of Psychology, The University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.