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New Rheumatology Network lead aims to ‘bring rheumatologists and researchers together’

New Rheumatology Network lead aims to ‘bring rheumatologists and researchers together’

29th April 2024

The Chief Scientist Office (CSO) has announced the appointment of a new National Research Network Clinical Lead for Musculoskeletal Conditions (Rheumatology)

Dr James Dale, a Consultant Rheumatologist, who has been with NHS Lanarkshire for nine years and is an Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at the University of Glasgow’s School of Infection & Immunity, is delighted to be taking up the role.

James undertook training in Rheumatology and General Medicine in the West of Scotland, and a PHD Fellowship funded by CSO investigating the use of musculoskeletal ultrasound in the treatment of newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis. As a Consultant, he undertook a Career Development Fellowship from NHS Research Scotland (NRS), allowing him to continue research into tailored therapies for early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

In his new role with the Musculoskeletal (Rheumatology) Research Network, James is now hoping to increase the number of patients enrolled into high-quality rheumatology studies while encouraging heightened integration of research into everyday clinical work and increased equity of access for patients.

He said: “I have gained very useful experience in research and understand the challenges of trying to conduct research as part of an NHS clinician’s everyday role.

“I hope to use that experience to encourage the uptake of rheumatology research around Scotland. Fundamentally, trying to bring rheumatologists and researchers together and helping more rheumatology clinicians become research active.

“My personal view is that research should become part of normal clinical care. Unfortunately, lots of research opportunities get missed because the key focus understandably remains on treating patients, but I hope to encourage change in that regard by providing advice, support, and mentorship that leads to greater research engagement.”

The Musculoskeletal (Rheumatology) Research Network supports a wide range of studies involving medicines, lifestyle interventions, medical devices, and comparison of surgical approaches for the prevention and treatment of bone and joint diseases both in adults and children.

James added: “Equity of access is also a big driver, in turn helping to develop more inclusive research and increasing the numbers of patients enrolling into trials. That goes hand in hand with promoting, delivering, and developing Research, Development and Innovation (RD&I) activity.”

He believes that simple steps can make big differences after a previous incumbent helped to provide a dedicated research room within hospital facilities.

“Having a focused space made it so much easier. That straightforward step really helped us to get started with research,” James said.

The new Clinical Lead has been tasked with “playing a key leadership role in the on-going development and performance of the Network” and providing “a strategic overview of the infrastructure required” to support research.

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