We are seeking to recruit a Clinical Research Fellow in Rheumatology to work within the Rheumatology Research Group (RRG) and the NIHR Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre at the University of Birmingham.
This post is part of the £7m A-TAP (Arthritis therapy Acceleration Programme) initiative, which brings together multiple trusts, the Universities of Birmingham and Oxford, and industry partners to advance detection of biomarkers and trial new therapies under collaborative agreements. You will assist in the day-to-day execution of various clinical studies in Rheumatology currently recruiting through the A-TAP. These include observational cohort studies and early phase clinical trials of new therapies, and provide opportunities for training in musculoskeletal ultrasound and interventional procedures. As a Clinical Research Fellow you will participate in ongoing A-TAP research with a focus on supporting Rheumatology, as well as working within the multidisciplinary team to deliver the strategic aims of the group and the delivery of the trial portfolio of studies according to time and target. You will also be involved in the writing and submission of grant applications related to your particular area of research and you will write research papers for submission to peer-reviewed journals and abstracts for submission to national and international conferences.
The primary purpose of the A-TAP collaboration is to provide a translational vehicle to help identify the right drug at the right dose for the right disease. It complements ongoing international studies in stratified medicine, which aim to identify the right drug for the right patient. A-TAP provides the missing “mechanistic” link to ensure that excellent basic science observations are “accelerated” into early phase experimental therapy for patients. A-TAP is the first cross-disease, cross-tissue consortium that uses pathology-based outcome measures, innovative trial design and Bayesian statistics to match the right patients to the best treatment option based on their individual profile of inflammation and not just disease symptoms. A-TAP, through its innovative approach of operating across different types of immune-mediated inflammatory disease with a focus on tissue biology enables the de-risking of drug development and speeding up the delivery of new medicines.
A-TAP is delivered through its alliance of academic and NHS partners comprised of the University of Birmingham (UOB) and the University of Oxford (Oxford) and seven NHS partners. These are Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB), Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust (SWBH), Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Dudley), University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW), Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust (Walsall) and the Modality Partnership (Primary Care).
The Research Unit: The Rheumatology Research Group (RRG) sits within the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, one of seven research institutes in the College of Medical and Dental Sciences at the University of Birmingham. The RRG is a multidisciplinary team of academic and clinical rheumatologists, biological and social scientists, general practitioners, allied health professionals and patient representatives. Truly collaborative on a global scale, the world-leading RRG research focusses on understanding the epidemiology, mechanisms and pathobiology of three major autoimmune rheumatic diseases; Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Systemic Lupus Erythromatosus (SLE) and Sjogren’s Syndrome (SS). The RRG currently has over £10 million of live funding, from Arthritis Research UK, the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, NIHR, European Commission and several hospital trusts and industry. The vast range of RRG fundamental science expertise includes stromal cell and immune pathobiology, metabolomics in rheumatic disease and developing animal models of rheumatic disease.
Clinical Research: The clinical skills of the RRG are closely linked to its translational science: For instance, developing skills in musculoskeletal ultrasound is necessary to undertake training in ultrasound guided biopsy which in turn is required for innovative tissue-based science examining pathological mechanisms of disease in our observational cohorts and response to therapy in new trial designs. Work is supervised by eight clinical academics alongside three clinical lecturers and multiple fellows, who have the opportunity to undertake postgraduate MD or PhD degrees. Clinical facilities are located within the research unit itself via the Inflammation Research Facility (a spoke of the hub NIHR Clinical Research Facility) which is staffed by six clinical trials nurses and multiple support staff dedicated to observational and trials work in inflammatory disease. The unit features six consulting rooms, a three bedded day unit and ultrasound suite. This facility ensures excellent support and training for clinical fellows alongside continuity of patient care. Support for fellows is underpinned by dedicated monthly clinical research meetings and ultrasound training sessions run by Prof Karim Raza and Dr Andrew Filer.
Our key observational disease cohorts through which internationally known research is conducted are the Birmingham Early Arthritis cohort (BEACON: Total >900 subjects in the current dataset, recruitment 150 per year) and the Sjogren’s syndrome OASIS cohort: Total >300 subjects, current recruitment 50 per year. We also run a dedicated clinic for checkpoint inhibitor induced arthritis and sicca syndromes.
The group has significant expertise and is able to provide training opportunities in musculoskeletal ultrasound, ultrasound guided synovial biopsy, salivary gland biopsy, clinical trial design, pathological effects of biological disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs and the psychology of chronic autoimmune disease. Interested fellows are also welcome to express interest and become involved in the high quality laboratory based research undertaken in the Institute. The RRG is linked to busy regional NHS Trusts NHS clinical units including within the Queen Elizabeth Hospital itself (University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHBFT)), Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust (SWBH), Birmingham Women’s & Children’s Hospitals (BWCH) and the Modality musculoskeletal primary care unit. Fellows can take advantage of diverse opportunities for experience linked to these units.
Broad aims of the post
- To contribute to the achievement of the Institute’s research strategy by undertaking specified research activities within rheumatology pathogenesis
- To contribute to the management of and recruitment to early phase trials in arthritis and Sjögren’s disease
- To assist with research in patients recruited to the Birmingham Early Arthritis (BEACON) and OASIS Cohorts.
- To undertake clinical work by attending up to one clinical session per week to develop and maintain clinical skills.
- To become proficient in the conduct of clinical trials and to share with other BRC fellows the day to day management of early phase trials in arthritis undertaken by the Centre.
- To ensure that, once recruited, patients are followed up at appropriate intervals and clinical samples are processed and despatched to the relevant laboratories according to Standard Operating Procedures.
- To work closely with laboratory technicians, post-doctoral scientists and trial co-ordinators to establish and undertake laboratory research to support the BRC-related projects and the RRG.
- To discuss research data and devise appropriate plans for data analysis in conjunction with experienced colleagues and bio-statisticians.
- To assist with trial set-up and obtaining necessary local and national approvals (ethics, MHRA) and contribute to site file and data management under guidance of the trials coordinators and lead investigators.
- To work closely with and support the Inflammation Research Facility and the Clinical Research Facility, including following necessary approval processes.
- To prioritise tasks within an agreed work schedule to ensure that projects are delivered in timely fashion accordance to the milestones in the BRC.
- To suggest and contribute to the development of research techniques, models and methods in collaboration with colleagues.
- To contribute to writing bids for future research grants.
- To disseminate research findings using appropriate and effective media such as publication, research seminars etc.
- To provide guidance to other staff and students.
- To contribute to the production of research reports and publications in high impact-factor journals
- To plan and develop research contributions to subject area using methodologies, critical evaluations, interpretations, analyses and other appropriate techniques.
- To contribute to events celebrating the public engagement of science/social sciences/humanities.
- Keep up to date with recent literature and advances in the field.
- To engage in continuous professional development.
- To undertake clinical work under an NHS honorary contract.
- To contribute to the enhancement of the University’s international profile in line with the University’s Strategic Plan.
Knowledge, Skills, Qualifications and Experience Required
- Candidates should be registered with the GMC with a License to Practice.
- Medical degree with preferred MRCP or equivalent. Applications for out of programme experience from enthusiastic pre-MRCP core trainees will also be considered (see below).
- We will accept applications for out of programme experience from enthusiastic post foundation year CT or ST1,2 (or IMT1, 2 and 3) trainees. At least 4 months’ experience in Clinical Rheumatology is desirable.
- Preference may be given to Rheumatology Specialist applicants on the Specialty Training Programme for Rheumatology at ST3 level or above.
- Core clinical skills, including phlebotomy.
- Preferred: previous undergraduate experience of research via scholarship, funded holiday project or intercalated degree.
- Desirable: Clinical research experience within Rheumatology
- Desirable: basic experience of musculoskeletal ultrasound, however training can also be provided.
- Analytical and problem solving capability
- Ability to communicate complex information with clarity, both verbally and in writing
- Strong interpersonal skills, ability to get on well with colleagues.
- Ability to work both independently and as part of a team
- Ability to work towards departmental and Institute objectives.
- Excellent IT skills
Informal enquires to Andrew Filer (A.Filer@bham.ac.uk)
The University is committed to safeguarding and we promote safe recruitment practice, therefore all associated pre-employment checks will be undertaken before any appointment is confirmed. Due to the nature of the work undertaken in this role all successful applicants will be subject to a satisfactory Occupational Health and/or DBS clearance prior to appointment.
The University is committed to safeguarding and we promote safe working practice, therefore all occupational health checks required for this role will be taken once individuals are appointed. Due to the nature of the work undertaken in this role all successful applicants will be required to complete an Occupational Health assessment once in post.
Further particulars can be found http://www.download.bham.ac.uk/vacancies/jd/MDSFPs.pdf
Valuing excellence, sustaining investment
We value diversity and inclusion at the University of Birmingham and welcome applications from all sections of the community and are open to discussions around all forms of flexible working