Institute of Health & Society

Staff Profile

Dr Kara Danks

Knowledge Exchange Broker



I trained as a Midwife in the North East and qualified in 2004, working in the NHS providing care and support to women during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. This included care of the newborn and providing antenatal education and health promotion. In 2007 I moved to London, trained as a Probation Officer and worked to supervise those who were subject to community sentences, on licence and in the prison setting with multiple and complex needs including mental health, substance misuse and homelessness. I moved back to the North East in 2010 and worked as an Advocate providing independent advocacy support to a diverse range of individuals with NHS complaints, then progressing to the regional Team Leader role and managing a team of advocates across nine local authority areas. In 2014, I returned to education and completed an MSc in Psychology followed by undertaking a PhD which was collaboratively funded by NHS England Health and Justice: Northern region and Northumbria University. This explored the implementation and service development of an NHS health trainer initiative in the prison setting and involved working closely with practitioners and commissioners. In 2018 I was appointed as the NIHR SPHR Knowledge Exchange Broker.


Established in April 2012, the NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR) is a partnership between 8 leading members of academic public health research excellence. From 2017, the members are as follows: the Universities of Sheffield, Bristol, Cambridge, Imperial and University College London; The London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM); the LiLaC collaboration between the Universities of Liverpool and Lancaster and Fuse; The Centre for Translational Research in Public Health, a collaboration between Newcastle, Durham, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside Universities.

With a total budget of £20.5 million over 5 years, the School aims to build the evidence base for effective public health practice by bringing together England’s leading public health research expertise in one virtual organisation. For more information, please see the SPHR website.

Role & responsibilities 

I work as the interface between the NIHR SPHR academic work programme and the wide range of policy and practice partner organisations in the field of public health and health and wellbeing. As the Knowledge Exchange Broker, I work across organisational and professional boundaries, strengthening the capacity of SPHR to interact with policy and practice partners, exploiting opportunities for knowledge exchange and helping to develop new avenues for translational research in public health.


PhD, Social Sciences, Northumbria University

MSc, Psychology, Northumbria University

BSc (Hons) Criminal Justice with Diploma in Probation Studies, University of Hertfordshire/London Probation Trust

BSc (Hons) Midwifery Studies, Northumbria University


Research interests

Public health

Health and wellbeing

Health and Justice

Complex systems

Realist methods

Health inequalities

Intersecting inequalities