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Research & Development



The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Disease (RNHRD) is a rheumatology specialist centre with an international reputation for leading the way in providing a high quality service with excellent patient outcomes and high patient satisfaction.

The RNHRD was founded nearly 300 years ago to provide treatment to patients in the local area and from around the country. The service transferred from the Mineral Water Hospital in 2019, it is now part of the RUH site, situated next to the new Therapies Centre. The rheumatology service has 5 research active consultants as well as research projects being undertaken by rheumatology registrars, including PhD students. The rheumatology team regularly contribute to international publications as well as advising national and international research groups.

Research aims

Rheumatology research runs across all aspects of the specialty including axial sponyloathropathy, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and connective tissue diseases such as systemic sclerosis, lupus and myositis.

Research studies undertaken within the RNHRD vary in their methodology from short one-off questionnaires to trials with multiple study visits over several years; the latter may involve new drugs and other novel treatment interventions.

Overview of studies

The rheumatology research team work on a constantly changing portfolio of commercial, academic and in-house led studies.

Examples of our work include:

  • The 'Mi-Part' study which is investigating gut bacteria (the Microbiome) in people with inflammatory arthritis. This involves two study visits, the completion of a food diary and the analysis of gut bacteria. The study compares the gut bacteria of people with inflammatory joint disease and healthy volunteers. It is hoped this work may lead to a new line of treatment for inflammatory joint disease.
  • We have another study looking at novel treatment strategies in psoriatic arthritis. The study aims to establish the best time to start treatment with biologic drugs. Biologics are expensive and the study looks at whether starting these drugs earlier for a fixed period of time could prevent long term joint damage.
  • In connective tissue disease research we are currently running a study to determine if oral prednisolone (steroid) is effective in treating systemic sclerosis. The absence of a proven effective treatment to reduce the pain and morbidity of early diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis highlights the need for this study.
  • We have been recruiting research patients with psoriatic arthritis and axial spondyloarthritis to our in-house database and bio-bank for the last 30 years, as such these resources have become recognised internationally as an outstanding academic resource.
  • In rheumatoid arthritis, the RNHRD contributes to observational and registry studies. These are important studies looking at the long-term effects of treatments and continue for many years.

Research partners

The RNHRD collaborates with many universities and specialist centres for research trials including Oxford University, Imperial College, Leeds University, Manchester University and Aberdeen University. The RNHRD also runs commercial studies funded by pharmaceutical companies.

Our Research Team


Dr R Sengupta is a Consultant Rheumatologist and Lead for ankylosing spondylitis. He is the principal investigator in several national and international clinical trials in axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA). He has a number of peer-reviewed publications and is a sought after speaker at regular national and international axSpA meetings.

Dr W Tillett specialises in Psoriatic Arthritis and conducts research studies into the early detection of disease, treatment strategies and disease assessment. Dr Tillett has co-authored the 2013 British society of rheumatology psoriatic arthritis anti-TNF guidelines and currently co-chairs the guideline update committee.

Dr J Pauling is a specialist in Raynaud's phenomenon and systemic sclerosis. Dr Pauling lectures internationally on systemic sclerosis and has been co-applicant on a number of significant research grants. Dr Pauling conducts drug studies, patient focus groups and patient reported observational studies.

Dr E Korendowych specialises in Psoriatic Arthritis and leads the specialist anti-TNF service for patients with this condition. She is actively involved with research projects focusing on Psoriatic Arthritis and Lupus.

Dr S Skeoch specialises in Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Interstitial Lung Disease. Dr Skeoch is a member of a number of national and international clinical research networks and has been the lead or co-applicant of several large research grants.

Lead Research Practitioner

Debbie Delgado

Research Team

The rheumatology research office is based in the Wolfson Centre within the main RUH building. The research team includes Rheumatology Registrars, Research Nurses, Clinical Trials Assistants and Administrators, as well as a database team who collect and collate patient data collected at the RNHRD clinics.

Contact details

Rheumatology Research Office, Research and Clinical Trials Centre, Wolfson Centre, D1, Royal United Hospital.

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