Dr Tony Redmond
Dr Tony Redmond is an Arthritis Research UK lecturer in rheumatological podiatry at the University of Leeds.
What does your work involve?
I'm part of the Foot and Ankle Studies in Rheumatology (FASTER) group in Leeds, and my work is focused on foot and ankle problems associated with a range of musculoskeletal disorders. Our most recent and current studies include mechanical treatments in hypermobility syndrome, the interaction of mechanical and inflammatory factors in osteoarthritis, the effects of inflammatory arthritis on foot structure and function and non-surgical and surgical treatments for foot problems in rheumatoid arthritis.
My professional background is in podiatry, so I also have a role representing podiatry within the musculoskeletal community and improving the way in which foot health services are provided. I sit on various committees within Arthritis Research UK and other professional bodies, such as British Health Professionals in Rheumatology (BHPR) and the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA), as well as the podiatrists’ professional body. Wearing a different hat I also chair the steering group for ARMA’s local networks project, but that's a different story for another day.
How long has Arthritis Research UK been funding you?
Arthritis Research UK first funded me through one of their academic posts for allied health professionals (AHPs) in 2002. This scheme has now helped eight promising AHPs develop substantive research careers. Since 2002, in addition to the academic post, Arthritis Research UK has supported my work through a range of fellowships, project grants and PhD studentships.
What’s the most important thing you have found out in the past 12 months? Why?
We've shown that foot pain and impaired health status in hypermobility syndrome relates to a breakdown in the mechanical linkages between the rear (heel) section of the foot and the forefoot. This has led to an Arthritis Research UK-funded trial exploring the effects of mechanical treatments that might address this breakdown.
What do you hope or expect to achieve as a result of your Arthritis Research UK funding?
Ultimately we'd like to identify the most effective treatments for the range of foot complaints found in people with arthritis and understand more about how they work. Equally important in my professional role, we hope that the Arthritis Research UK funding will continue to contribute to the development of a research culture in podiatry.
What do you do in a typical day?
I certainly have variety in my life. My day can involve anything from sitting in front of the computer screen writing grants or papers, time in the gait laboratory or in clinic with patients, to student supervision, committee work or (joy of joys) financial or university administration. My job also involves a lot of travel so I'm on a train or plane about once a week – the laptop is a wonderful invention.
What is your greatest research achievement?
The FLEXI hypermobility trial is the most significant to date. The trial spawned a range of spin-off studies, which have improved our understanding of the impact and prevalence of hypermobility syndrome, and teased out some of the complex relationships between generalised joint mobility, specific joint motions and symptoms.
Why did you choose to do this work?
I think most clinicians go into their chosen profession with the intention of making a difference for their patients. My research work is just an extension of this, investigating how we can help people in ways we don't understand fully yet.
Do you ever think about how your work can help people with arthritis?
I like to think that all my work helps people with arthritis. Leeds is a centre with a strong clinical research focus and the FASTER group is strongly patient-orientated. We do some basic science work as this helps understand how treatments work, but all of our efforts are directed towards actually making a difference for patients in the immediate future.
What would you do if you weren’t a researcher?
Ten years ago I would have sold my soul to be a professional sportsman. Nowadays the joints are a bit more creaky and I'd have to settle for something a bit more sedentary. Carving out a career as a professional musician would be difficult given my limited talent, but I'd give it a go.
My family and I live in rural Yorkshire and, as an ageing sportsman with outdoorsy tendencies, I try to make the most of the natural environment. I've swapped running for cycling recently and most weekends will try to get out locally or up in the dales. If driven indoors I'll hack away at the guitar or murder a few tunes on my electronic keyboard. Failing that, I'm always happy to watch sport, any sport.
This article first appeared in Arthritis Today Autumn 2007, issue 138.