University of York

Empower Partner The University of York
Hull York Medical School

The University of York (UoY) established in 1963, is a public university offering over 250 undergraduate courses and numerous post-graduate taught and research degrees across sciences, arts and humanities and social sciences. >

The UoY is home to more than 18,000 students from over 140 countries. It is a proud member of the prestigious Russell Group of research-intensive UK Universities. Integrated in the Hull York Medical School (HYMS) within the Department of Health Sciences sits the mental health and addiction research group (MHARG). One of the group’s key themes is Translational, Stress and Psychosomatic Research, led by Professor Christina van der Feltz-Cornelis. The team members of this group collaborate with Europe’s leading institutions through its membership in different research consortiums and networks. The projects within this theme include the exploration of psychological, biological and environmental mechanisms underpinning stress and stress-related mental health conditions.

The CANDO study is an observational study with an international advisory board that analyses possible etiological factors in conversion disorder/functional neurological disorder. A partnership with the James Lind Alliance, Tilburg University and the clinical Centre of Excellence for Body, Mind and Health in the Netherlands explores research priorities for patients and clinicians in the field of medically not yet explained symptoms. In collaboration with Erasmus University and Leiden University, The Netherlands, the official Dutch version of the ReQol Questionnaire was developed and validated. Team members are currently translating and validating the Physical Symptoms Questionnaire in collaboration with the University of Leiden, the Netherlands. The team explores the association between pain and social exclusion in the UK Biobank dataset that contains data on 500,000 members of the general population in the United Kingdom. In collaboration with Kings College and the University of Brighton, the team published an analysis in data from the UPBEAT study that explored what comes first in patients with cardiovascular disorder: cardiac pain or depression and anxiety.

As leaders of work package one for the EMPOWER project, the UoY team, led by Professor Christina van der Feltz-Cornelis, will design the e-health intervention. This will involve developing components to tackle stigma and raise awareness of mental health, to reduce psychosocial risk factors in the workplace, to prevent and reduce psychological distress and to help maintain healthy days at work.

Translational, stress and psychosomatic research >

Project Staff

Professor Christina van der Feltz-Cornelis
Professor Christina van der Feltz-Cornelis

PhD in Psychiatry
Lead of the Translational research into the interface of physical and mental health.
Honorary Consultant Psychiatry in the TEWV NHS Trust, York. Honorary Professor at UCL Institute of Health Informatics


Christina van der Feltz-Cornelis, psychiatrist, psychotherapist and epidemiologist, is member of the mental health and addiction group in the Dept. of Health Sciences and HYMS, University of York since 2018. Before that, she was professor of social psychiatry at Tilburg University, the Netherlands.

She is clinically affiliated with TEWV NHS Trust where she provides an expert service for complex somatic symptom disorders in Yorkshire. She is a member of the International Advisory Group for the Revision of ICD-10/Mental and Behavioural Disorders.

She is a world-renowned mental health researcher in the field of combined somatic and mental disorders with wide experience in both clinical trials and epidemiological studies. She participated in the European funded project A Roadmap for Mental Health Research in Europe (ROAMER), leading the Clinical Research Taskforce.

Jenny Sweetman

Jenny Sweetman is a Research Associate in the Mental Health and Addictions Research Group, University of York. She completed a PhD in Health Sciences in 2021 focusing on understanding the barriers which affect access to primary care mental health services in England. Jenny has been working in applied mental health research since September 2009 contributing to projects focused on access to healthcare, priorities for healthcare, evaluating assessment tools and treatments and systematic and scoping reviews in the areas of common mental health problems, medically not yet explained symptoms, addiction and dementia. She currently oversees the recruitment for the EMPOWER trial evaluating the efficacy of an app to deal with work stress.

Fidan Turk

Fidan Turk is a Research Associate at the University of York. Fidan has a PhD in psychology, which focuses on the potential role of integrating compassion in the treatment of eating disorders and body image issues. Fidan’s research interests lie in understanding and improving mental health issues. Fidan is interested in applying both quantitative and qualitative methods to inform, develop, and evaluate mental health interventions. In EMPOWER she explores work stress and resilience.

Thirimon Moe Byrne - Universoty of York
Thirimon Moe Byrne

Thirimon Moe Byrne is a Research Fellow in the Health Services and Policy Research group, University of York. Thirimon has a Master of Public Health and BMedSci (Hons) in Nursing. She has worked at the York Trials Unit (YTU), co-ordinating multi-centre randomised controlled trials and feasibility studies. She worked in the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination in York (CRD), undertaking systematic reviews and health technology assessments, in a range of clinical areas funded by NIHR, NICE and the Department of Health Policy Research Programme. Prior to CRD she worked for seven years as a staff nurse in Renal and Urology at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.

Jessie Shepherd

Jessie Shepherd is a PhD student at the University of York. She recently finished a Masters of Social Justice and Education at the University of York. In 2010, she completed a Masters of Family Therapy at Kennedy University, California. For the last three years, she supervised and taught courses at the undergraduate and graduate level in several Californian Universities. As a licensed mental health professional, she worked in a variety of community mental health settings in the United states as a social worker, therapist, and case manager over the last 12 years.

Natalie Smith - University Of York
Natalie Smith

Natalie Smith provides administrative and research support for the UoY EMPOWER team.