Leadership team

MICRA includes senior academics at The University of Manchester and experts in the field of ageing.

Professor Alistair Burns, Institute Executive Director

Professor Alistair Burns is a consultant old age psychiatrist and National Clinical Director for Dementia in England.

His research interests are in mental health problems of older people, particularly dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. His research papers have looked at cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease, behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia and drug repositioning for Alzheimer’s disease.

He is Editor of the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, Assistant Editor of the British Journal of Psychiatry, and is on the Editorial Boards of International Psychogeriatrics and Advances in Psychiatric Treatment.

Professor Tarani Chandola, International Director

Tarani Chandola is a Professor of Medical Sociology.

He is the director of the Methods Hub in the Faculty of the Social Sciences at the University of Hong Kong. He is a co-director of the ESRC International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Society and Health, a member of the ESRC Strategic Advisory Network, a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and the Royal Statistical Society, and is an editor of the journal Sociology.

Professor Rachel Watson, Deputy Director

Rachel Watson is Professor of Cutaneous Science and is Head of the Division of Musculoskeletal and Dermatological Sciences.

She sits on the editorial boards of three scientific journals and is Section Editor (Translational Research) of the British Journal of Dermatology.

Rachel also sits on the British Association of Dermatologists’ UK TREND committee, which helps guide research priorities in the area of skin health and disease.

Professor James Nazroo

Professor James Nazroo is a sociologist and international authority on social determinants of health and wellbeing in later life.

He leads a five-year research project ‘Inequalities in later life frailty and wellbeing’, funded by the UK research councils’ Lifelong Health and Wellbeing programme.

James is interested in how inequalities are transmitted across the lifecourse, and in patterns of retirement, and social and civic participation. James also specialises in longitudinal surveys of health and retirement. He helps lead the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), an ongoing study of people aged 50 and over.

Professor Chris Todd

Chris Todd is a professor of Primary Care and Community Health.

He is Director of the NIHR Older People and Frailty Policy Research Unit. Also, the Deputy Director for the Healthy Ageing Theme NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Greater Manchester.

Chris leads the Healthy Ageing research group in the School of Health Sciences. His interests include fall prevention, healthy ageing, activity promotion, use of technologies to promote healthy ageing, resilience and frailty, and nutrition and ageing.

Chris is also an NIHR Senior Investigator and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh.

Professor Chris Phillipson

Chris Phillipson is a Professor of Sociology and Social Gerontology and MICRA Interim Deputy Director.

His particular focus is on the social, political, and economic issues affecting ageing populations.

He has held grants in ESRC and cross-research council programmes, including Family and Household Change (ESRC), Cultures of Consumption (ESRC/AHRC), and the Life-long Health and Wellbeing programme (MRC-led).

He is presently a co-investigator on the ESRC-funded: Beyond the 10 000 steps: Managing less visible aspects of healthy ageing at work.

Chris has developed a particular interest in the relationship between population ageing and urbanisation, with research in this area supported by Manchester City Council and various other funders.

He led an ESRC-funded International Partnership and Networking Scheme (IPNS) which brought together European and North American research centres and policymakers engaged in the study of the impact of demographic change on urban life.

His latest books are co the-edited Precarity and Ageing: Understanding Risk and Insecurity in Later Life (Policy Press, 2020), and Ageing and Migration in a Global Context: Challenges for Welfare States (Springer, 2021).

Professor James Banks

James Banks is a Professor of Economics at Manchester.

He is also a Senior Research Fellow of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). There, he is Co-Director of the ESRC Centre for the Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policy.

His research focused on empirical modelling of individual economic behaviour over the lifecycle, with a particular focus on consumption and spending patterns, saving and asset accumulation, housing dynamics, and retirement and pension choices.

James was a founding principal investigator of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and still remains a co-principal investigator on the study. Following the establishment of ELSA, his research has looked at broader issues in the economics of ageing, such as health, physical and cognitive functioning (and their association with labour market and broader socioeconomic status), and the dynamics of work disability.

Dr Jonny Blaker

Jonny Blaker is Research Area Lead for the Royce Biomedical Materials Research Area. He is Senior Lecturer in Biomaterials in the Department of Materials, School of Natural Sciences, Faculty of Science and Engineering, at The University of Manchester and Adjunct Professor (Professor II) at The University of Oslo, Department of Biomaterials (since 2019). Prior to joining The University of Manchester as Lecturer in 2014 he was Research Fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London, in the Polymer Composites and Engineering (PaCE) group working with Alexander Bismarck developing bioinspired hierarchical composites, sustainable biobased composites, and bioactive composites for medical use.

He established his Bioactive Materials Group in 2014. Principal research areas are i) hierarchical composite materials and fibres as scaffolds for regenerative medicine, and ii) advanced materials derived from synthetic biology/2D nanocomposite materials. Active lines of research include electrically conductive materials for peripheral nerve repair, hierarchical fibre reinforced additive manufactured scaffolds, development of bio-inks for 3D printing, and fibre processing, especially nanofibres via disruptive fibre spinning technologies. These areas span the themes: Bioinspired Composites, Synthetic Biology, Fibre Technologies, Additive Manufacturing and Regenerative Medicine.