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Epidemiology and outcomes of psoriatic arthritis

Project Description

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) presents a unique clinical challenge. Characterised by inflammatory joint disease, enthesitis, skin and nail disease, it is also associated with vascular risk and increased likelihood of metabolic syndrome. In addition, it has important comorbidities, including mental health, and can have a significant impact on quality of life and working status.

The introduction of biologic Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) over the past couple of decades has significantly improved outcomes for patients, and many of these treatments (e.g. anti-TNFα therapies) are now well-established. More recently, other important molecules have been identified and various other novel therapies have been developed – indeed, continue to be developed. However, for many of these agents, good quality long-term data on effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, safety, and other important outcomes is limited. Although clinical trials are extremely informative, there remains a need for a large, high quality, prospective cohort study to complement such data.

The Epidemiology Group at the University of Aberdeen, part of the Aberdeen Centre for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Health, coordinates the British Society for Rheumatology Psoriatic Arthritis Register (BSR-PsA). The study aims to provide high-quality real-world data, with respect to:
• The impact of PsA on the individual, including function, work, and quality of life;
• The natural history of PsA, including clinical and social outcomes in the medium- to long-term; and
• The effectiveness of novel therapeutic agents (including biologic and biosimilar DMARDs and other targeted therapies) and to identify predictors of treatment response.

We are seeking to appoint a PhD student to work on BSR-PsA data. There can be some latitude in the precise research questions to be addressed, and these will be discussed with the successful candidate(s). However, they are likely to include:
• The impact of PsA on the individual – including function, work, and quality of life;
• The effect of early referral to rheumatology;
• Predictors of outcome; and / or
• The impact of different disease phenotypes on social and occupational outcomes.

Arthritis / musculoskeletal health is one of the key areas of clinical research within the Institute of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Aberdeen. The PhD candidate will work in the Epidemiology Group ( that offers a vibrant research culture focused on arthritis and musculoskeletal health. Our work spans the three IAHS strategic themes ( in that we seek to understand mechanisms of disease onset and outcome; this then informs our programme of observational studies and randomised controlled trials on disease management; and this in turn feeds into our work designing, implementing and evaluating health services for patients with these conditions.

The successful candidate will also benefit from involvement in the Aberdeen Centre for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Health, one of the Centres of Excellence within the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition. The Centre provides a multidisciplinary research environment, and a close working relationship with scientists within the Institute of Medical Science, clinical staff at NHS Grampian, and patients. Outside Aberdeen, the candidate will also benefit from the collaboration with the BSR-PsA partner institutions, with collaborators at the Universities of Glasgow, Leeds and Newcastle.

This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of APPLIED HEALTH SCIENCE. Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Health Science, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct person for processing.


Candidates should contact the lead supervisor to discuss the project in advance of submitting an application, as supervisors will be expected to provide a letter of support for suitable applicants. Candidates will be informed after the application deadline if they have been shortlisted for interview.

Funding Notes

This project is part of a competition funded by the Institute of Applied Health Sciences. Full funding is available to UK/EU candidates only. Overseas candidates can apply for this studentship but will have to find additional funding to cover the difference between overseas and home fees (approximately £16,625 per annum).

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a First Class Honours degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with a minimum of a 2:1 Honours degree may be considered provided they have a Distinction at Masters level.

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