Dr Ian Scott
Dr Ian Scott is a specialist registrar in the rheumatology department at Guy's and St Thomas's Hospital Trust.
What does your work involve?
My research is focussed on rheumatoid arthritis; specifically trying to develop ways to predict who will develop the condition and to look for things that predict how severe an individual’s condition is likely to become once they have developed it.
How long has Arthritis Research UK been funding you?
I have been receiving funding from Arthritis Research UK for the last 15 months. I feel very indebted to the charity for believing in, and supporting, my work and to all its fundraisers.
What’s the most important thing you have found out in the past 12 months? And why?
In the last 12 months I have spent a lot of time looking at which things in the environment make people more or less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. I have found, along with my research colleagues, that drinking alcohol may reduce your risk of developing this disease, although more research is needed to confirm this. A better understanding of what makes people more or less likely to develop it is very important. We may be able to use this information to find people at a very high-risk, allowing gain a much better understanding of the changes in the body’s immune system that lead to it and perhaps even look at ways to try and prevent rheumatoid arthritis.
What do you hope or expect to achieve as a result of your Arthritis Research UK funding?
As part of my Arthritis Research UK clinical research fellowship I have developed a computer programme that allows one to estimate someone’s risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis over their lifetime using genetic markers (obtained from a single blood test) and questions about what they have been exposed to in the environment. I hope that, as we better understand the risk factors, this programme could be used in the future to screen people for this disease before they develop any symptoms.
What do you do in a typical day?
At the moment I am spending a lot of my time seeing patients in the clinic as part of my study looking at the genetics of rheumatoid arthritis in individuals of African ancestry (most research in this area has concentrated on people of European descent). This involves a lot of cycling around the hospitals in South London, which is keeping me fit.
What is your greatest research achievement?
My greatest research achievement to date is the development of a method to estimate someone’s risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, and the implications for further research and clinical care that this has.
Why did you choose to do this work?
There are many reasons behind this. Firstly, I’ve always been interested in learning new things and tackling new challenges. Doing research regularly throws up unexpected problems and requires you to learn new skills to address them. Secondly, my father (Professor David Scott in Norwich) is a clinical researcher in rheumatology, and I’ve seen first-hand what a rewarding job it is as I’ve grown up. Thirdly, to a certain extent you are able to set your own agenda in research and look at questions that you feel are important to answer, such as if you can predict who will get a disease. Forming and answering your own research questions is a very rewarding experience.
Do you ever think about how your work can help people with arthritis?
Yes. My research is very clinically focussed and I hope that the methods I develop during my clinical research fellowship to predict rheumatoid arthritis development and severity can be used in the future in clinical practice to better treat this disease.
What would you do if you weren’t a clinician/researcher?
That’s a very tough question as this job forms a large part of my life. To be completely honest I can’t imagine doing anything else.
The last year has been very exciting for me on a personal level. I got married and my wife, Charlotte, and we are expecting our first child, which I think will take up a lot of my spare time soon. I enjoy cycling, which is how I get to work and around London, and also music, driving Charlotte mad with my guitar playing.