Nicola O’Donnell

Cumberland Lodge Fellow, 2022-24


Based in the Martin House Research Centre and Department of Health Science at the University of York, Nicola’s research focuses on best understanding the psychosocial experiences of young people who have had the rare eye cancer, Retinoblastoma. Funded by the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT), Nicola aims to develop a novel psychoeducation intervention, a crucial task as there is currently no routine psychological support for this population. Passionate about co-production, Nicola is engaging with young people at every stage of the research process. She is keen to break to down the power imbalance of ‘patient’ and ‘professional’ and highlight the expertise of lived experience. 

Alongside her PhD, Nicola is a trainee health psychologist in her final stage of training. This doctoral level of study will qualify her to practice clinically as a registered health care professional. She has over six years’ experience working clinically within health services, including Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS), paediatrics, child health, eating disorders, and the internationally renowned INPUT pain management unit at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

Nicola is particularly interested in understanding the psychological, social, and cognitive influences on living with and beyond a cancer diagnosis, considering how this shapes identity and coping skills. In the future Nicola aspires to work as a clinical academic, working clinically within cancer care whilst also contributing to the research evidence base to develop broader psychosocial support within oncology.