Research into better outcomes for early Rheumatoid Arthritis patients: a trainee’s story
Dr Faye Cooles is an NIHR clinical lecturer in Rheumatology. She received part-funding from the NIHR Newcastle BRC during her PhD to carry out research into type 1 interferons in early Rheumatoid Arthritis. This work aims to develop stratification of the disease for better clinical outcomes.
Since receiving this funding through the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (BRC)’s Musculoskeletal Disease Theme, she has continued to work at post-doctoral level on type 1 interferons in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Below she tells us how this research funding has helped her, and what this means for clinical outcomes related to RA.
What is your research aiming to achieve?
Early and effective disease control is essential to reduce the long-term morbidity associated with RA. We have identified, and since validated, markers at the time of RA diagnosis. These RA markers are related to type 1 interferon signalling, i.e. the IGS. These are increased in those patients who have poorer clinical response to treatments at six months. We anticipate that screening newly diagnosed RA patients for this marker can therefore give us the ability to stratify patients into different therapies, for example, therapies that target type 1 interferon signalling, or, towards more intensive clinical observation and escalation of therapies. This will hopefully provide better long-term disease control and better patient outcomes.
What support did you receive from the NIHR?
I have been an NIHR trainee at various levels. For example, I began as an NIHR Academic Foundation Trainee, then an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow and I am now an NIHR clinical lecturer. I was also funded by the NIHR Newcastle BRC for the first year of my PhD. The NIHR has therefore played an essential role in supporting me to pursue my interest in clinical academia.
The NIHR Newcastle BRC has also been essential in providing the infrastructure for much of my work. They funded the research component of the Freeman Hospital Early Arthritis Clinic and the Newcastle University Flow Cytometry Unit, to name just a couple.
What are your next steps?
I continue to receive funding for my research from a mixture of charity and government organisations. This is used to investigate the causes and implications of raised type 1 interferons in early RA. I have also been awarded The Peel and Rothwell Jackson Travelling Fellowship and will attend the University of British Colombia, Canada in 2022 for 12 months. This fellowship is both research and clinical and will allow me to continue to develop my interests in therapeutics and biomarkers, as well as bring back new skills and collaboration opportunities to the North East.