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For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org

Dr David Kane

David KaneDavid Kane is Arthritis Research UK senior lecturer in rheumatology at the University of Newcastle.

What does your work involve?

I divide my time evenly between academic and clinical roles. My clinical role is at the Freeman Hospital, where I work with six other rheumatologists and the rheumatology multidisciplinary team in a purpose-built musculoskeletal unit, which we share with orthopaedics. I have special interests in musculoskeletal ultrasound and seronegative spondyloarthropathy. Since 2003, we've had a training programme in musculoskeletal ultrasound and provide an ultrasound service in our outpatient clinic. I also run a seronegative spondyloarthropathy clinic with Dr Lesley Kay and a specialist nurse.

My academic role is to link the busy clinical rheumatology department with our musculoskeletal research group led by Professors Tim Cawston and John Isaacs at the University of Newcastle. To this end, we've recently built a 16-bed clinical research facility which contains an arthroscopy suite and musculoskeletal ultrasound-imaging suite with offsite MRI facilities. This will allow us to perform state-of-the art research on novel immunotherapies in inflammatory arthritis. My principal role will be in developing musculoskeletal ultrasound, power Doppler and synovial biopsy as objective measures of short-term outcome of immunotherapies. However, because of the massive enthusiasm shown by rheumatologists for musculoskeletal ultrasound, I find more and more of my time being drawn to this, particularly in providing training.

How long has Arthritis Research UK been funding you?

I began working in the UK in 2000 and was fortunate to be funded by Arthritis Research UK in 2002 with the award of an equipment grant for musculoskeletal ultrasound imaging systems and an educational project grant to develop a DVD for teaching musculoskeletal ultrasound. Recently we completed the DVD, which was successfully launched at the British Society for Rheumatology AGM.

On moving to work in Newcastle, Arthritis Research UK funded my first research fellow, who's performing a controlled trial of ultrasound-guided joint injection compared to clinical examination-guided joint injection. My current position, which I started six months ago, as Arthritis Research UK clinical senior lecturer in rheumatology, has given me more time to devote to clinical research.

What do you do in a typical day?

As I changed posts only six months ago I don't really have a typical day yet, though generally the week evens out at 50 per cent clinical activity and 50 per cent academic activity. Right now I'm spending more time with our new musculoskeletal ultrasound system in setting up protocols for clinical trials. In addition, we've just opened our arthroscopy suite this month and I'm training a research fellow so we can begin synovial biopsy, which I see as a critical means of linking patients with disease to our very active research group, where we study mechanisms of joint destruction.

I also teach medical students and postgraduate staff, in addition to setting up a training programme in musculoskeletal ultrasound. Currently I'm supervising two Masters degree projects and one PhD.

What's your greatest research achievement?

In only 18 months we've managed to set up state-of-the-art musculoskeletal ultrasound and arthroscopy facilities, and recruit staff to work with these facilities on research projects. The next step is to translate this into high-calibre research.

Why did you choose to do this work?

I was always going to do rheumatology, but from the first time I did a musculoskeletal ultrasound project with the radiologists I was itching to put the probe in my hand. I found that imaging technology like ultrasound and arthroscopy have altered the way I think about inflammatory joint disease and I enjoy working with scientists who have the abilities to take these thoughts – insightful or downright odd – and make them more understandable.

Do you ever think about how your work can help people with arthritis?

On a day-to-day, basis dealing with patients is what gives me the most satisfaction. Through my special interests in musculoskeletal ultrasound and spondyloarthropathy, I've enjoyed training and educating others – particularly in musculoskeletal ultrasound. I hope that it'll eventually become a standard part of rheumatology training as I think it has so many benefits for both doctor and patients.

What would you do if you weren't a scientist/doctor?

Something more creative – photographer, surrealist painter or movie director. No harm in dreaming.

About David

Spare time is a concept of the past since the arrival of Eva, our first child, though I'm not complaining. Before that I'd unwind with country walks, the occasional spot of skiing or scuba diving while on holiday, and a massive interest in cinema.

This article first appeared in Arthritis Today Summer 2005, issue 129.

For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org.
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.