By Dr. James Prior, NIHR School for Primary Care Research Launching Fellow
During the summer, myself and Sara Muller were both successful in obtaining competitive Keele University Santander Travel Bursaries, made available by Santander bank for Keele students and staff to facilitate trips for education or research purposes. Using this funding we have just returned from a productive trip to Lund University, Sweden where we met with researchers and clinicians to form new research questions and build on existing links between our two universities.
The process began in March 2015 when a group of Lund researchers led by Professor Ingemar Petersson came to Keele to meet with researchers and clinicians based at the Research Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences, Keele. Though the focus of this meeting was primarily about Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal pain, there was also the opportunity for myself and Sara to meet with the group to discuss our epidemiological research around inflammatory conditions. These very useful initial meetings resulted in an invitation to visit Lund to explore the potential for collaborative research into inflammatory health conditions and allow comparisons between UK and Swedish populations. Our subsequent Santander bursaries made this trip possible by covering our travel costs.
This research trip proved to be highly productive, successful and enjoyable. Lund is a beautiful University City in Southern Sweden and researchers from the Epidemiology Registry Centre, Ingemar Petersson, Anna Jöud and Maria Sandberg were very kind hosts. The focus of our trip was to investigate the potential for us to use Swedish healthcare data to ask new research questions. This is a unique opportunity, as all patient consultations in Scandinavia are recorded in regional registries and provide a wealth of information for the investigation of diseases in large populations. We also met with primary care physicians from the wider Skåne region, which provided a forum to discuss the similar and different research processes between the UK and Sweden.
From a personnel perspective, I was able to meet with a Aladdin Mohammad, a Consultant Rheumatologist who has conducted several studies into Giant Cell Arteritis (an inflammatory condition of the blood vessels) using this registry data. We were able to plan several new sets of research analyses using the registry data to begin our research collaboration.
Meanwhile, Sara met with Anna Jöud and Maria Sandberg to discuss details of a project, they had up until that point been planning by email, to look at outcomes for rheumatoid arthritis and how they differ between the UK and Sweden. They are now putting together grant applications to pursue this work further.
This research trip has been an excellent opportunity to form solid research questions which will benefit all parties and lead to much research output in the future, as well as continue to strengthen the ties between Keele & Lund University.