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Our leadership team

Liam O’Toole – chief executive officer

Liam O'TooleArthritis Research UK will merge with Arthritis Care from autumn 2017. Liam will be chief executive officer of the new organisation.

Before this, Liam was responsible for leading Arthritis Research UK for seven years, with investment in breakthrough treatments and the best information to help people with arthritis push back the pain, isolation and fatigue of arthritis. Under Liam’s leadership the charity has undergone transformational change and emerged as a modern, third sector organisation with the needs of people with arthritis central to everything it does.

Before joining Arthritis Research UK, Liam played a leading role in many of the major changes that have taken place in the UK’s health and medical research landscape over the last decade. Between January 2007 and November 2009 he was head of the Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research (OSCHR), a joint office funded by the Department of Health and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, set up to develop a more coherent strategic approach to publicly funded health research. Before his role with OSCHR Liam spent three years as chief executive of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration and was the first administrative director of the National Cancer Research Institute following 16 years’ experience of research management at the Medical Research Council and the British Diabetic Association (now Diabetes UK).

Adrienne Skelton – director of policy, health and social care improvement

Adrienne joined Arthritis Research UK as the first director of strategic development in June 2015. Musculoskeletal conditions can have a huge impact on people’s lives. They may not take life, but for many they take away the quality of life. To 2020, Arthritis Research UK will make a positive and tangible change in the quality of life for people with arthritis, and Adrienne’s priority is to steer our organisational path towards achieving this goal.

Previously, Adrienne held a range of senior strategy and evidence roles at Macmillan Cancer Support, the Big Lottery Fund and Arts Council England. Her work focuses on maximising the impact of an organisation, through strategic alignment, a focus on beneficiaries and customers, and the use of evidence to inform decision making. She's a keen writer, gardener and mother of three young daughters.

Charlotte Guiver – director of income generation

Charlotte’s priority, along with her team, is to grow, diversify and integrate our income streams to provide the organisation with the resources it needs to deliver it's charitable aims.

Charlotte joined Arthritis Research UK in 2013 after 15 successful years working in various fundraising roles across the not for profit sector, most recently as director of fundraising and marketing at the British Lung Foundation, where she combined her income generation and marketing knowledge with her passion for health and medical research.

Before that, Charlotte held senior roles within Arthritis Care and the British Heart Foundation, as well as five years in the publishing sector.

Justin Parfitt – director of finance and corporate services

Justin is a chartered accountant with over 15 years’ experience in the not-for-profit and charity sectors. He joined Arthritis Research UK in October 2015 to lead the finance and corporate services directorate in supporting the charity to deliver improved quality of life for people with arthritis.

Before his appointment, Justin was the director of finance and IT at Breakthrough Breast Cancer and subsequently led the financial aspects of the merger of this charity with Breast Cancer Campaign to form Breast Cancer Now in early 2015.

Justin was a member of the executive team responsible for the abolition and transfer of functions of the Hearing Aid Council to the Health Care Professions Council in 2010. He was also a member of the senior leadership team at the NHS Counter Fraud and Security Management Service from inception in 2000, and implemented the transfer of its finance operations to the NHS Business Services Authority when the organisations were merged in 2006.

Justin has a keen interest in music and he's participated in many running events to raise funds for charities.

Nicola Peachey – director of organisational development

Following 10 years with the NSPCC as deputy director of HR, Nicola joined Arthritis Research UK in November 2010 to develop and lead the newly created function responsible for internal communications, employee engagement, learning and development and effective people management.

Before moving to the not-for-profit sector in 2000, Nicola’s HR career included roles in local government, international publishing and re-insurance, where she gained extensive experience in organisational design, recruitment, business start-ups, expatriate management, reward, retention and major organisational change programmes.

Nicola balances her role at Arthritis Research UK with a busy family life. She's deputy chair of governors for a local primary school.

Olivia Belle – director of transformation

Responsible for raising the profile of arthritis and the organisation as a whole with decision makers and our target audiences, Olivia leads the teams delivering media relations, digital, branding and policy and public affairs work to support our activities and champion the cause.

Olivia joined Arthritis Research UK in 2012 from Hospice UK, where she led the development of Hospice Care Week, delivered in partnership with local hospices. She has 20 years’ experience in a variety of communications roles in the charity sector and worked on a number of campaigns, including Dying Matters, Carers Week and the End Child Poverty coalition.

Stephen Simpson – director of research

Stephen is responsible for the development of our research strategy, working closely with our scientific strategy committee, and leads the team responsible for the peer review, management, evaluation and translation of our research. 

Stephen joined Arthritis Research UK in July 2012, after four years as director for life sciences at Science Foundation Ireland, where he lead a team of scientific programme managers responsible for delivering major funding across a spectrum of bioscience research in Ireland.

Before this, Stephen spent eight years as a member of the editorial team at the international journal Science, latterly as senior editor responsible for managing the peer review and publication of research in the areas of immunology and other areas of biomedicine.

Stephen’s research specialisation is in immunology and inflammation, having obtained a PhD at the MRC’s National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London, before spending nine years as a postdoctoral researcher and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and as a researcher in Ireland and the UK.

Stewart Long – director of involvement and services

With over 25 years in the charity sector, Stewart has worked at five major charities including the MS Society and RNIB. He joins the transformational leadership team from Arthritis Care, where he was Director of Nations and Servces and led the delivery and development of the charity’s services, including its helpline and via local branches and groups across the UK.

As Director of involvement and services, Stewart is responsible for our nations, services, involvement and volunteering, to ensure they have the biggest impact for people with arthritis.

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Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.