Arthritis Research UK Centre for Epidemiology

Director: Dr Will Dixon

The Arthritis Research UK Centre for Epidemiology (CfE) is a unique research institution internationally, in terms of its major focus on understanding the epidemiology of the major musculoskeletal disorders. The Centre receives substantial infrastructure funding from Arthritis Research UK of approximately £2.3 million over 5 years. The CfE also receives research support from The University of Manchester and the major grant receiving bodies such as the Medical Research Council, British Society for Rheumatology, NIHR, Arthritis Research UK and other funding agencies. These resources support approximately 100 individuals working on a wide variety of different programmes and projects.

The work of the CfE includes:

  • Undertaking longitudinal observational studies, case control studies and intervention studies to investigate inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Investigating the co-morbidities associated with inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders and their impact on quality of life and mortality
  • Hosting national databases and monitoring drug safety in RA, JIA and SLE
  • Use of "big data" to address relevant epidemiological questions
  • Studies of bone health from childhood to very old age
  • Intervention studies of devices and the development of new models of outcome in osteoarthritis.

Research is diverse and multi-disciplinary addressing environmental risk factors  and their interaction with genetic risk factors for the development and outcome of musculoskeletal conditions.

The CfE conducts research in community, primary and secondary care settings and adds to the published evidence on the best treatment for musculoskeletal disorders.

The translation of identified risk factors for the development of disease or of a poor outcome of disease into evidence-based strategies for disease prevention or improvement is the major aim. Investigation of the existence and impact of co-morbidities is also a major theme.

The CfE is a founding member of the UK Research in Musculoskeletal Epidemiology (UK-RiME) partnership, a national collaboration between seven epidemiology centres.

Subgroups and studies within the CfE include:

Childhood Arthritis Prospective Study (CAPS)

Principal Investigators: Professor Wendy Thomson ; Dr Kimme Hyrich

  • The aim of this programme of work is to identify the predictors of outcome, both short- and long-term, following presentation with childhood onset inflammatory arthritis and to identify the relative contributions of socio-demographic, clinical, psychological, laboratory and genetic factors and treatment in explaining outcome.

See: Childhood Arthritis Prospective Study (CAPS)

Cardiovascular Group

Principal Investigator: Professor Ian Bruce

  • Studying the causes and consequences of accelerated atherosclerosis in inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions

See: Cardiovascular Group


Principal Investigator: Dr Will Dixon

  • The eHealth programme uses data sourced from digital media to support epidemiological analysis. The focus of the programme is the safety of glucocorticoid (or steroid) therapy, examining a range of outcomes including infection, diabetes, cataract and glaucoma, bone health and adrenal insufficiency. This work uses data from anonymised electronic patient records such as the Clinical Practice Research Datalink.
See: e-Health

Norfolk Arthritis Register

Chief Investigator: Professor Alex MacGregor (Norwich),  Principal Investigator: Dr Suzanne Verstappen (Manchester)

  • The Norfolk Arthritis Register is the largest primary care derived cohort of early inflammatory arthritis in adults

See: Norfolk Arthritis Register (NOAR)


Principal Investigator: Professor Ian Bruce

  • A nationwide Register of First-Degree Relatives of Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis to evaluate predictors of the development of RA


Pharmacoepidemiology Group

Principal Investigator:Dr Kimme Hyrich

  • British Society for Rheumatology Rheumatoid Arthritis Biologics Register (the largest prospective observational study of the safety and clinical effectiveness of biologic agents), BSPAR Biologics Register, BILAG Biologics Register
  • Large randomised controlled clinical trials in inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions

See: Pharmacoepidemiology Group

Research in OsteoArthritis Manchester (ROAM study)

Principal Investigator: Professor David Felson

  • Developing new treatment approaches

See: Research in OsteoArthritis Manchester (ROAM)