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21 February 2020

Faculty researchers recognised at royal event celebrating women's arthritis research

Professor Leonie Taams, School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences, and Professor Frances Williams, School of Life Course Sciences, were recognised at the recent Versus Arthritis celebration hosted by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

Versus Arthritis

Professor Leonie Taams’ work explores the use of anti-TNF therapy in the treatment of inflammatory arthritis. More specifically, she aims to understand how this type of therapy encourages certain immune cells, called inflammatory T-cells, to change roles from causing inflammation to reducing it, as well as investigate why not all patients respond to these drugs.

I was delighted and honoured to be invited to this special event, and to meet HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, the outstanding women in arthritis research as well as several Patient Insight Partners and sponsors of Versus Arthritis. The funding support from Versus Arthritis helps us elucidate how anti-TNF therapy influences the function of T lymphocytes, leading to reduced inflammation. This will provide novel insight into the mechanism of action of this widely used drug, as well as help understand why some people do not respond to this therapy.

Professor Leonie Taams

Professor Frances Williams’ work focuses on common conditions that cause high levels of disability in the general population, such as rheumatoid arthritis, back pain and other chronic conditions. She aims to understand how genetics, the environment and the microbiome – the millions of bacteria and other microbes that live in and on our bodies – are linked in the development of these conditions.

I was delighted to be included in this event, particularly as Versus Arthritis recently agreed to fund our Spine Microbiome project. In this novel study we will collect and examine intervertebral discs which are removed at spine operations for back pain. We will use new microbiome techniques to answer the question of whether some bugs get into the disc and bones and cause back pain.

Professor Frances Williams

Arthritis charity Versus Arthritis (previously Arthritis Research UK and Arthritis Research Campaign) has supported both researchers throughout their careers.

In this story

Leonie Taams

Head of the School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences