Dr Kimme Hyrich
Kimme Hyrich is a reader and honorary consultant rheumatologist at the University of Manchester.
What does your work involve?
My research focuses on studying outcomes of children and adults diagnosed with arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
or juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)
, and is a type of research called epidemiology. Much of my work focuses on the effects of treatments for arthritis. I analyse data, using statistics, which has been collected directly from patients or their families and their doctors about their diagnosis, looking for patterns and associations between treatment and outcomes.
How long has Arthritis Research UK been funding you?
I joined the Arthritis Research UK Epidemiology Unit at The University of Manchester in 2001 as a PhD student. Although the funding for my PhD came from an arthritis charity in Canada, I benefited from the training I received. In 2006, I came back to the unit as a senior lecturer and have received Arthritis Research UK funding ever since.
What’s the most important thing you have found out in the past 12 months? And why?
For over 10 years, I have been studying the safety of biological therapies. This has been challenging work as there are a lot of factors which need considering when comparing different types of treatments. We have recently shown that in adults, at least in the early years of treatment, the anti-TNF drugs
do not appear to increase the risk of lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system. This will be reassuring to both patients and healthcare professionals.
What do you hope or expect to achieve as a result of your Arthritis Research UK funding?
Arthritis Research UK funds two large paediatric research projects which are both studying different aspects of outcome in JIA: the Childhood Arthritis Prospective Study (CAPS) and the Biologics for Children with Rheumatic Diseases (BCRD) Study. The main objective of BCRD is to describe the safety of methotrexate and biologic drugs when used in children.
What do you do in a typical day?
I spend most of my time in research but also spend one day of the week at the hospital. My research time is different every day and I meet with a lot of different people, including students; my research teams to ensure the studies are progressing smoothly; and my research colleagues to plan analysis and even future research questions.
What is your greatest research achievement?
I think my greatest research achievement has been the establishment, with my colleagues, of a number of large biologic drug registers, including the BCRD study. These registers have set a new standard in drug safety research across Europe, with the study design endorsed by the EMA, the European drug regulator. These studies have already answered a number of questions about the safety of these new drugs. We are continuing to recruit new patients to these studies, as even with many thousands of patients enrolled, there remain important unanswered questions about our treatments.
Why did you choose to do this work?
I chose rheumatology for many reasons. A family friend with RA gave me great insight into living with this disease. She remained very hopeful that a new treatment would be discovered but sadly died before biologics became available. I chose my research career as it is very diverse and allows me the opportunity to design and undertake research to address the currently ‘unanswerable’ questions of my patients.
Do you ever think about how your work can help people with arthritis?
I think about the importance of my work for people with arthritis every day. By analysing data collected directly from patients as well as talking to patients in my clinics, it makes all of my research very ‘real’. I realise how important it is to patients to have an understanding of what the risks of new treatments are to help them make informed decisions about their healthcare.
What would you do if you weren’t a clinician/researcher?
Although I do enjoy my work very much, I think I would also enjoy being an interior designer. I’ve recently moved into a new house and have enjoyed choosing new paint colours for the walls and designing our new deck.
I have a two-year-old daughter, Elsa, and I spend most of my time away from work with her and my husband, John. We love to travel, especially to Canada to see my family and to show my daughter where I grew up. She is already collecting air miles.