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Visiting the rheumatoid arthritis pathogenesis centre of excellence

Written by Lynn Laidlaw, patient insight partner

The Arthritis Research UK Rheumatoid Arthritis Pathogenesis Centre of Excellence (RACE) is based at the Universities of Glasgow, Newcastle and Birmingham and is going through the process of applying for renewed funding from Arthritis Research UK. Patient insight and involvement characterises everything that Arthritis Research UK do so when RACE held an event recently in Glasgow to publicise the wonderful work that they do to local MPs and MSPs, I was fortunate to be invited as a representative from the patient insight partner group. I had previously attended the RACE on two occasions to discuss patient involvement in research. "The event was a very practical demonstration of why research is so important and the impact it can have on treatment as well as better understanding of why patients develop arthritis in the first place." I feel very much at home there and it was lovely to meet up with everyone again. Professor John Issacs from RACE in Newcastle was there, as well as Stephen Simpson (director of research at Arthritis Research UK) and colleagues from Arthritis Care, who are now merged with Arthritis Research UK

After some time chatting, including a lively debate on health inequalities, we got down to business with some excellent presentations on the work of RACE and Arthritis Research UK. The things that stood out for me were how much Arthritis Research UK have invested in arthritis research in Scotland (£17 million), the wonderful collaboration between the three RACE sites, the PhD programme which is training the arthritis research scientists of tomorrow, and the amount of industry and European Union money RACE has attracted due to the excellence of their research.

Professor Iain McInnes spoke with real pride and affection about working in the east end of Glasgow and the amount of investment there has been recently, in Glasgow University and the new hospital known in the city as "the Death Star" – Glaswegians have a wonderful sense of humour! Professor Issacs touched upon how RACE is working towards a cure for rheumatoid arthritis, something that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. I tried to provide some insight into what it is like living with a form of arthritis and how it’s more than just joint pain, also how much I appreciated the research that Arthritis Research UK funds as it brings real benefit to patients. Arthritis Research UK funded research into anti-TNF treatment which has made a real difference to my quality of life.

The MPs and MSPs wanted to know how much Brexit would impact on arthritis research in Scotland, the difference between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, as well as how poverty impacted on patient outcomes in arthritis. We were then privileged to be taken on a tour of the labs and meet the researchers which was very interesting and informative. Time for a photo opportunity and some interviews which were made into a short video to publicise the visit.

It was a great morning – the MPs and MSPs were obviously impressed and will hopefully give musculoskeletal health the priority it deserves. I am proud to be associated in a small way with the work of Arthritis Research UK. The money that is fundraised makes such a difference to people’s lives. The event was a very practical demonstration of why research is so important and the impact it can have on treatment as well as better understanding of why patients develop arthritis in the first place.

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