Research at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Bath

The RNHRD has a longstanding reputation for research into rheumatic diseases. Many leading academic rheumatologist around the world have trained in Bath. The research has been underpinned by a large throughput of patients attending dedicated subspecialist clinics such as in connective tissue disease, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, metabolic bone disease and early synovitis. A 20 bed rheumatology inpatient unit allows admission for patients with complex needs. Ultrasound imaging and DEXA have been long-established and there is a unique microvascular imaging suite with thermography, laser Doppler and video-capillary microscopy. The Bath Institute for Rheumatic Diseases (BIRD) is adjacent to the RNHRD and accommodates staff from the RNHRD and the University of Bath undertaking translational research. The BIRD facilities include a CPA accredited autoimmune serology service, some laboratory facilities and an epidemiology unit with database and statistical support. More extensive laboratory sciences and facilities are available through strong links with the top-rated department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology at the University of Bath.

Trainees are encouraged to undertake research and there is an excellent track record of success in obtaining external funding for fellowships. At present there are two trainees taking out of programme experience to undertake PhDs through the University of Bath, and a new NIHR academic clinical funded fellowship has commenced. Also, there are two non-accredited clinical fellow posts funded by the RNHRD and the WCLRN that can be used as a starting point for research. At present the RNHRD is recruiting to 26 projects on the NIHR portfolio, six of which it is taking the main lead. WCLRN funding also supports three research nurses, two database managers and a laboratory assistant

The consultants at the RNHRD all have a special interest which provides STRs with a comprehensive training programme. In addition we have specialised chronic pain and Complex Regional Pain services which take national referrals.

The main areas of research activity currently are

  • Autoimmune connective tissue disease
  • Seronegative spondyloarthropathy
  • Pain management and complex regional pain syndrome

There may be opportunities for research in other areas such as rheumatoid arthritis, metabolic bone disease or sports medicine