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Dr Marina Anderson

Marina AndersonDr Marina Anderson is an Arthritis Research UK senior lecturer and honorary consultant in rheumatology at the University Hospital Aintree, Liverpool.

What does your work involve?

My schedule is divided between clinical work, research and teaching. I look after patients with arthritis and connective tissue disease in the clinic and on the wards at University Hospital Aintree, Liverpool. I also lead a programme of research in Raynaud’s phenomenon and the connective tissue disease scleroderma at the University of Liverpool academic rheumatology unit. In addition, I'm involved in organising and delivering the education of medical students, doctors and healthcare professionals in Merseyside.

How long has Arthritis Research UK been funding you?

I've been in my current senior lecturer post in Liverpool for 3 years. Prior to this, during my rheumatology registrar training in Manchester, Arthritis Research UK funded my 3-year clinical research fellowship, examining measures of blood flow in Raynaud’s phenomenon and scleroderma.

What’s the most important thing you've found out in the past 12 months? Why?
At the University of Liverpool, we've shown that inflammation plays an important part in scleroderma, both in blood samples examined in the laboratory and in the joints of patients scanned in the clinic. This information is important to help us better understand the processes involved in causing scleroderma and how we can improve treatment.

What do you hope or expect to achieve as a result of your Arthritis Research UK funding?

I've already set up a specialist clinic for Raynaud’s phenomenon and scleroderma and expect this service to expand over the next few years. I expect that our research unit, in collaboration with other departments, will contribute to a better understanding of what happens in Raynaud’s phenomenon and scleroderma so that we can then go on to develop targeted therapies for these disorders.

I also hope to raise the profile of the specialty of rheumatology in the medical student course and in junior doctor training in order to inspire the next generation of doctors to pursue a career dedicated to treating and researching arthritis and the connective tissue diseases.

What do you do in a typical day?

One of the best things about my job is that a 'typical day' is a rare occurrence. Most days will involve treating people with arthritis and connective tissue disease in clinic or on the wards. As co-director of the second year of the University of Liverpool undergraduate medical course, part of my day usually involves meetings or organisation of aspects of the course. My day often involves either teaching, supervising, tutoring or counselling medical students or junior doctors. Every day will also involve a meeting with one or more of my research team to discuss progress of the research programme. Of course, all aspects of my job generate paperwork and emails that require daily attention. Add on top of this regular educational meetings and conferences, and life is never boring!

What's your greatest research achievement?

My greatest achievement has been drawing together, in under 3 years, a strong Raynaud’s and scleroderma research team that spans laboratory to bedside. The team consists of a post-doctoral laboratory research assistant, a MRC research fellow, two specialist registrars with ongoing clinical research projects, a vascular technician and specialist nurse. The team works in parallel with the Raynaud’s and scleroderma clinic to further knowledge of these disorders.

Why did you choose to do this work?

Having been inspired by patients and medical staff during a senior house officer rotation in rheumatology, I spent a year researching Raynaud’s phenomenon and scleroderma at the University of Manchester rheumatic diseases unit, Hope Hospital, Salford. I continued this research work, under the auspices of Dr Arianne Herrick at Hope Hospital, while a specialist registrar and spent 3 years as an Arthritis Research UK clinical research fellow before moving to Merseyside.

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

Because I'm a clinician, I'm constantly reminded of how arthritis and connective tissue diseases affect people in the real world. The need to treat these diseases better drives our research programme.

What would you do if you weren’t a clinician/scientist?

I'd be a dance teacher. Dance is a lifelong passion, and before I left school I gained my ABATD (Associate of the British Association of Teachers of Dancing). Being a dance instructor would fulfil my strong desire to share my love of dance with others and nurture my enjoyment of teaching.

About Marina
I started dance lessons at the age of 2½ years and have been hooked ever since, be it ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, Highland or Scottish country. I'm currently enjoying street dance, American rhythm tap, Pilates and yoga. Music and drama have also played a big part in my life and I've enjoyed many diverse theatrical roles. My last project was as Principal Boy in panto for Altrincham Garrick Theatre and I'm currently rehearsing the role of Lady Capulet for the forthcoming Wilmslow Green Room production of Romeo and Juliet at Gawsworth Hall, Cheshire.

This article first appeared in Arthritis Today Summer 2001, issue 137.

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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.