The Arthritis Research Unit within the Rheumatology Department at Liverpool Hospital has three active research programs: inflammation basic science; clinical and health services research relevant to rheumatic and autoimmune diseases and medical education and evaluation research.
The Unit’s research focus is centred on common types of arthritis and related autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), scleroderma, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). It seeks to explore underlying mechanisms operating in these diseases and how they are managed, with the aim of developing new or improved treatments. The Unit has collaborations with basic science researchers in the Inflammation and Infection Research Centre (IIRC) at UNSW and is part of the Asia Pacific Lupus Collaboration (APLC).
Currently, the following research activities are underway:
Basic science programs studying how mast cell tryptases cause cartilage damage in arthritis; structure/function studies of tryptase variants; the role of leukocyte immunoglogulin -like receptors (LILRs) in RA and SLE; and the significance of autoantibodies to lipoproteins in SLE.
Clinical research, currently developing a clinically useful low disease activity index for SLE (in collaboration with APLC), examining the place of vertebroplasty as a treatment for osteoporotic crush fractures; health literacy of consumers; and the evidence base underpinning clinical rheumatological practice.
Health services research studying the impact of electronic medical records on rheumatology outpatient work practices.
Members of the Unit are also involved in educational research stemming from design and evaluation of UNSW’s innovative undergraduate Medicine program.
The Unit’s research program is based in the Ingham Institute with collaborations at the IIRC in the School of Medical Sciences at UNSW’s Kensington campus.