The Academic Department of Rheumatology, led by Professor Andrew Cope (Arthritis Research UK Professor of Rheumatology) accomodates a clinical academic grouping integrating the activities of the Rheumatology Departments at King’s College Hospital and Guy's, and the Lupus Unit at St Thomas’ Hospital. Working in close collaboration with its basic science partners in the Division of Immunology, Infection and Inflammatory Diseases (DIIID) and the Centre for Molecular and Cellular Biology of Inflammation, the department seeks to deliver excellence in clinical service, basic, translational and clinical research, and teaching and training across three campuses.
King’s College London has long been recognised as having one of the premier Academic Rheumatology units in Europe, fostering excellence in the delivery of clinical services, basic and clinical research, and teaching and training for several decades. As such, it is one of the most popular training centres for aspiring young clinician scientists.
Since March 2009, the Rheumatology Clinical Academic Group has become a single academic unit, integrating the portfolio of activities at three sites (King’s College Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital), working in close collaboration with its basic science partners in the Division of Immunology, Infection and Inflammatory Diseases. Some of its staff members and research group leaders are based within the Centre for Molecular and Cellular Biology of Inflammation on the Guy's campus.
The Academic Department is just one of five UK Oliver Bird Rheumatism Programme Collaborative Centres, funded by the Nuffield Foundation and its comprehensive research programme was renewed in 2008 in partnership with Queen Mary’s University London. This programme of PhD studentships aims to provide outstanding research training environment relating to the scientific basis of the rheumatic diseases. It is currently coordinated at KCL by Professors Andrew Cope and Frederic Geissmann. The Department also runs a part-time MSc course in Rheumatology, designed specifically for specialist rheumatology trainees and closely related medical specialties. All clinical trainees are well supported and strongly encouraged to register for higher research degrees and to pursue a dedicated period of training in basic or clinical research.
The work of the Department is based on three broad themes – Inflammatory Arthritis, Connective Tissue Diseases and Musculoskeletal Medicine and Metabolic Bone Disease. Research into the basic molecular, cellular and immune mediated mechanisms of chronic inflammatory disease is now undertaken in the newly established Centre for Molecular and Cellular Biology of Inflammation (CMCBI) on the Guy’s campus at London Bridge. Here, the principle investigators focus on monocyte and T cell biology, immune regulation, live imaging of cells in vivo, and in vivo models of arthritis. Research effort also seeks to understand the basis for co-morbidities associated with chronic inflammatory disease, especially cardiovascular disease.
Research on the King’s College Hospital campus, Denmark Hill, is aimed at the identification and prediction of disease outcomes in rheumatic disease, including Inflammatory Arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and connective tissue diseases such as myositis. Particular effort is targeted towards the identification of good and poor treatment responders, the effectiveness of conventional and innovative treatments and the overall impact of arthritis on patients’ global health; integration of outcomes research with basic laboratory science at the CMCBI is a priority. This research feeds directly into the activites of the King’s Musculoskeletal Clinial Trials Unit (KMS CTU) , which now coordinates a broad and balanced portfolio of investigator led and commercial clinical trials on both the Guy’s and KCH sites.
The Louise Coote Lupus Unit at St Thomas’ Hospital is an internationally recognised tertiary referral centre for complex autoimmune Connective Tissue Diseases. In addition to a growing portfolio of investigator led studies, focusing on evaluating new biologics for treating SLE, such as B cell and T cell targeted therapies, the Lupus Research Unit strategy is focused on understanding the mechanisms of immune mediated thrombosis and vascular damage. In collaboration with basic scientists in DIIID, a specific focus is to explore aberrant B cell response in tissue samples and peripheral blood of patients with Wegener’s granulomatosis, SLE and the anti-phospholipid syndrome (APS), with the intention of improving treatments, preventing end-organ damage and promoting survival for patients with autoimmune connective tissue disorders such as lupus, APS and systemic vasculitis.
Research into Musculoskeletal Medicine and Metabolic Bone Disease is accomodated on all three campuses, encompassing pain studies (genetics, imaging, biomarkers), the genetics of degenerative spine disease, and exploiting large Twin Cohorts weblink to understand the genetic epidemiology of soft tissue conditions, osteoarthritis, gout and osteoporosis. Integration of state-of-the-art imaging technologies (MRI, PET, SPECT) is vital to many of the studies in this field and is facilitated by close collaboration with the Division of Imaging Sciences (St Thomas’ Hospital campus) and the Institute of Psychiatry(at Denmark Hill).