About our research
Rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases are extremely common conditions, representing up to 30% of all consultations in primary care. They are a major cause of morbidity and frequently associated with significant comorbidities, further impacting on wellbeing and function. The clinical rheumatology group undertakes translational, clinical, laboratory and epidemiological research into rheumatic diseases, with a focus on inflammatory conditions. These include rheumatoid arthritis, axial spondyloarthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, myositis, systemic sclerosis and Behçet’s syndrome. Large cohorts of well-characterised patients are available at Aintree University Hospital, with clinical care led by members of the group. Our research integrates seamlessly with clinical care, of which much is delivered from the context of national or supra-regional services.
Our group hosts the EULAR Centre of Excellence for Rheumatology Research 2015-2020 and the UK Behçet’s Syndrome Centre of Excellence. We are also part of the MRC-Arthritis Research UK Centre for Integrated research into Musculoskeletal Ageing (CIMA) and Arthritis Research UK/MRC Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work.
The rheumatology group undertakes programmes of work designed to:
- study the role of neutrophils at the cellular and molecular level in disease
- discover and evaluate biomarkers to predict treatment response
- elucidate the potential interaction between arthritis and co-morbidities (such as cardiovascular disease) on disease, response to treatment and other important outcomes such as work,
- explore the pathophysiology of muscle and inflammatory lung disease with a particular interest in the association of autoantibodies with clinical sub-type and outcome
- study pathophysiological aspects of connective tissue diseases such as systemic sclerosis
- study the effect of lifestyle factors (obesity and smoking) on disease activity and treatment response in inflammatory rheumatic disease
- evaluate the clinical utility and potential mechanisms of action of novel drugs for osteoarthritis
The group is based in the Clinical Sciences Centre at Aintree University Hospital and the William Henry Duncan Building on the University of Liverpool main campus.
The Clinical Sciences Centre has laboratory and clinical research facilities under the same roof on the site of a large hospital that provides care for well-characterised cohorts of patients with rheumatological disorders, under the care of leaders of the group. Patients are referred not only from the locality, but also from around the region and nationally. The laboratories support molecular immunology work, including primary and secondary cell culture, cell and tissue storage, flow cytometry and various PCR technologies. The clinical research suite provides facilities for clinical assessment, including joint aspiration and injection, together with phlebotomy on both healthy people and patients.