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 BIRD's Current Research

BIRD continues to fund research and support the next generation of researchers into bone and joint diseases.

Our achievements have included training more than 25 PhD students, 20 clinical research fellows and 10 post-doctoral research assistants. We had significant involvement in developing anti-TNF therapy, one of the treatments for patients with severe arthritic diseases who have failed to improve with standard medicines, and BIRD funded staff are internationally recognised for identifying or characterising new and tiny parts of the immune system (novel autoantibodies) that are not working properly in patients with connective tissue diseases.

BIRD welcomes applications for grants in support of research. Please see http://birdbath.org.uk/page1.aspx?p=15&t=1 for more information on the application process.

BIRD is currently supporting the following research projects;


Summer Studentships – Arthritis Grand Challenge

Following last years successful studentships, BIRD is funding another programme of summer student scholarships in 2017 as part of the Arthritis Grand Challenge programme at the University of Bath & RNHRD.

After receiving many applications, the successful applicants were Kishwar Khanum & Natasha Kilpatrick. Both students will work on the respective projects over the summer with further updates to follow.

Adherence to anti-TNF therapy in Rheumatoid Arthritis – project supervisor Dr Sarah Chapman

Please click on the following links for further information into this research project;

Lay & Scientific summary

Inhaler ease of use and inhalation flow rate in people with rheumatoid arthritis – project supervisor Dr Matthew Jones

Please click on the following links for further information into this research project;

Lay & Scientific summary


Characterisation of the CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells populations in psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis using single cell sequencing - Prof Mark Lindsay

BIRD awarded Prof Mark Lindsay (Univeristy of Bath) a research grant of £9895 in March 2017 for continued research into Characterisation of the CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells populations in psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis using single cell sequencing.

Prof Lindsay’s application went through external and internal review following BIRD's Grant Awarding Policy. Thank you to Dr J Sherlock (University of Oxford) and Dr S Jones (Queen Elizabeth Hospital) who provided external peer reviews for BIRD. 

Please click on the following links for further information;

Lay Summary

- Scientific Summary & Progress Report (to follow in due course)


Ankylosing Spondylitis and Work: a biomechanics approach to inform self-management programme - Dr Dario Cazzola

BIRD awarded Dr Dario Cazzola (Univeristy of Bath) a research grant of £30,000 in December 2016 for continued research into Ankylosing Spondylitis and Work: a biomechanics approach to inform self-management programme.

Dr Cazzola’s application went through external and internal review following BIRD Grant Awarding Policy. Thank you to Dr R Gill (University of Bath) and Dr L Modenese (University of Sheffield) who provided external peer reviews for BIRD. 

Please click on the following links for further information;

- Lay Summary (to follow)

- Scientific Summary & Progress Report (to follow in due course)


The ASCAM Study - Dr Abbie Jordan

BIRD awarded Dr Abbie Jordan (Univeristy of Bath) a research grant of £5506.03 in December 2016 for continued research into CAM use in AxSpA.

Dr Jordan’s application went through external and internal review following BIRD Grant Awarding Policy. Thank you to Dr J Martindale (Lancaster University) and Dr C Flurey (UWE) who provided external peer reviews for BIRD. 

Please click on the following links for further information;

- Lay Summary

- Scientific Summary & Progress Report (to follow in due course)


An epidemiological study of systemic sclerosis and its association with cancer in the UK using the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) – Dr John Pauling

BIRD awarded Dr John Pauling (RNHRD, RUH) a research grant of £30,000.00 in December 2016 for ‘An epidemiological study of systemic sclerosis and its association with cancer in the UK using the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD)’.

Dr Pauling’s application had already been through external review with SRUK, and had been reviewed by the BIRD Research Group and its Council of Management.

Please click on the following links for further information;

- Lay Summary

- Scientific Summary & Progress Report (to follow in due course)


Summer Studentships – Arthritis Grand Challenge

BIRD funded a programme of summer student scholarships in 2016 as part of the Arthritis Grand Challenge programme at the University of Bath & RNHRD.

After receiving many applications, the successful applicants were Kelly Blaxall, Maria Edwards & Yasmin Kafaei Shirmanesh, further details below.

The Arthritis Grand Challenge aims to address key health issues and develop new therapeutic strategies by collaboration between the University and the RNHRD. The studentships were run in conjunction with the University of Bath's Department of Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology and colleagues at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases (RNHRD).

The Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology has a long-standing and internationally recognized reputation for high quality research with an overall aim of improved healthcare outcomes and the RNHRD has a strong record of delivering high quality research into rheumatic disease, with several investigators recognised as international leaders in their field. By generating an interdisciplinary arthritis research programme through integrating knowledge from different areas, including public policy, the Arthritis Grand Challenge will promote and advance medical knowledge and treatments in arthritis.

This new initiative provided educational and research opportunities for undergraduate students in the area of arthritis research, one of the key aims of BIRD. The studentships provided hands-on experience of laboratory-based research for undergraduate students between the 2nd and 3rd year of their degree course, prior to applications for postgraduate programmes and graduate employment.

Ultimately, working with colleagues from the University and the two local hospitals, especially the RNHRD, we wish to build an internationally recognised, interdisciplinary programme of research that leads to a new Centre of Excellence in Arthritis Research located at Bath.

A qualitative study of complementary and alternative therapy use by people with ankylosing spondylitis, prior to their diagnosis – Kelly Blaxall

Please click on the following links for further information into this studentship and the outcomes for the future;

- Lay Summary  

- Scientific summary 

Development of anti-TIF1 alpha and beta ELISAs / Development of laboratory tests for novel myositis biomarkers - Maria Edwards

Please click on the following links for further information into this studentship and the outcomes for the future;

- Lay summary  

- Scientific summary  

Inhaler ease of use and inhalation flow rate in people with rheumatoid arthritis - Yasmin Kafaei Shirmanesh

Please click on the following links for further information into this studentship and the outcomes for the future;

- Lay Summary

- Scientific summary


Autoantigen specificity in Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis – Dr Sarah Tansley

BIRD supported Dr Tansley’s research grant in Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis since January 2015. Sarah is based at the University of Bath.

Please click on the following links for further information;

-Lay Summary 

-Scientific Summary & Progress Report


Myositis Autoantibody Research – Dr Zoe Betteridge

BIRD has supported Dr Betteridge’s research into Myositis Autoantibodies at the University of Bath for some years and funding ceased in March 2016.

The latest progress reports can be found below, please click on the following links for further information;

- Lay Summary 

- Scientific Summary & Progress Report

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