UCL Division of Medicine


Rheumatology (Bloomsbury)

The Centre for Rheumatology is a leading UK academic rheumatology unit. We explore connective tissue diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis. These are characterised by systemic or localised chronic inflammation, potentially leading to irreversible damage. We are identified as a Lupus Centre of Excellence by Lupus UK, the main SLE patients' charity, and as a Centre for Adolescent Rheumatology, by Versus Arthritis, the largest rheumatology charity in the UK.

Our work

The Centre for Adolescent Rheumatology

Adolescence is a critical time in life, characterised by major physical, emotional and educational development. Despite this, very little research is focused on this age group. We aim to address the gaps in education and high-quality research in adolescents and young people with lupus, myositis, arthritis and other rheumatic conditions.

We are supported by a partnership between the UCL Division of Medicine and UCL Institute of Child Health in collaboration with the Adolescent Rheumatology clinical service at University College London Hospital and the Paediatric Rheumatology service at Great Ormond Street Hospital. We bring scientists and health professionals together to support unique research focused on adolescent health.

Visit Centre for Adolescent Rheumatology

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Autoimmune Rheumatic Disease

Lead investigator: Professor Mike Ehrenstein

This research group focuses on how biologic therapy can be utilised as a molecular scalpel to understand the pathogenesis of autoimmune rheumatic disease, in particular systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis, both in terms of loss of immune tolerance and ongoing inflammation, to develop novel (and safer) therapies and improve existing therapies, and to target therapies to patients most likely to benefit through biomarker identification. One impact of this research was the BEAT-LUPUS trial which arose from experimental medicine studies looking at the immune consequences of B cell depletion (rituximab) in patients with SLE and was one of the first trials to test combination biologic therapy (belimumab after rituximab) for patients with SLE. Following identifcation of a biomarker that predicts response to belimumab after rituximab, IgA2 anti-DNA antibodies, a biomarker enrichment trial is planned for patients with SLE.

Group members

  • Dr Daniel McCluskey, Postdoctoral Fellow
Immune Profiling and Metabolomics

Lead investigator: Professor Elizabeth Jury

The group investigates lipid metabolism and how this can influence immune cell function in patients with autoimmunity. The group also uses multi-omic and clinical data and machine learning analysis to stratify patient subgroups according to disease severity, cardiovascular disease risk and response to therapies.

Group members

  • Alexandra Oppong, PhD student
Antiphospholipid Antibodies

Lead investigator: Professor Anisur Rahman, Professor Ian Giles

The APS Group focuses on the structure, function, origin, and pathogenic consequences of the antiphospholipid antibodies. These antibodies are linked to a predisposition to arterial and venous clotting and an increase in the risk of pregnancy losses - the clinical condition known as the antiphospholipid antibody syndrome. They are working on understanding at a cellular level how these antibodies cause clinical effects and on the development of a novel therapeutic agent.

Group members

  • Abida Rym, Clinical Research Fellow, PhD student
Pregnancy in Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases

Lead investigator: Professor Ian Giles

Professor Giles’ group studies factors affecting the outcomes of pregnancy in patients with autoimmune rheumatic diseases, especially systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and antiphospholipid syndrome. This includes changes in the immune system and metabolomics profiles as well as effects of medication.

Group members

  • Bethan Goulden, Clinical Research Fellow, PhD student
Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases in Adolescence

Lead investigator: Professor Coziana Ciurtin

This group works on investigating the impact of puberty and sex determinants on immune system function using a gender-diverse adolescent cohort, including trans-gender individuals, aiming to understand why girls and females are more predisposed to developing autoimmune diseases. They are also working on understating the molecular causes that drive immune system dysregulation in lupus and Sjogren disease with onset in childhood and their role in causing damage and increased comorbidity risk in young people with these conditions.

Group members, Adolescent Rheumatology

  • Dr Maria Leandro, Consultant
  • Dr Hannah Peckham, Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • Dr Ania Radziszewska, Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • Junjie Peng, PhD student
  • Heather Thorn, Research Manager (until 1 September)
  • Kathryn O'Bryan, Research Manager (maternity leave)
Immunomodulation of Pathogenic B Cell Responses by Metabolites

Lead investigators: Dr Elizabeth Rosser

Our group focuses on understanding the nature of the environmental signals that drive pathogenic B cell differentiation in paediatric and adolescent rheumatic disease. We use a multi-layered experimental approach to:

  1. characterise how B cell biology is altered in these diseases;
  2. identify potential metabolic signals, such as those from the gut-microbiota or diet, that may be modulating B cell function.

Our group is funded by a senior research fellowship awarded to Dr Rosser by the Kennedy Trust for Rheumatology Research in 2022.

Group members

  • Dr Diana Matei, Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • Dr Ben Ingledow, Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • Beth Jebson, PhD student [50% ICH]
  • Vicky Alexiou, PhD student
  • Persephone Jenkins, Research Assistant
  • Chadwick Pils, Research Assistant
Antigen Detection and Characterisation

Lead investigator: Dr Thomas McDonnell

The McDonnell group works on discovering new antibodies in diseases with difficult diagnosis, whilst also characterising the underlying structural abnormalities which lead to the development of these autoantibodies. The diseases the group currently work on vary from Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogren Disease and Antiphospholipid Syndrome, to Chronic Histiocytic Intravillousitis and Cardiovascular Disease. The group also maintains strong links with other departments including Biochemical Engineering, Biophysics, Archaeology and the Fetal Medicine Unit.

Group members

  • Christophe Lalaurie, Research Fellow
  • Emily Cornish, PhD student, Obstetric Registrar
  • Lucia Martin, Senior Research Technician
Multiomic Mechanisms of Adolescent Autoimmunity

Lead investigator: Dr George Robinson

The Robinson group focuses on understanding both immune and metabolic pathological mechanisms of systemic lupus erythematosus across age, with a focus on younger patients and associated comorbidities including cardiovascular disease. This research uses rare patient cohorts to combine immunological laboratory techniques, in-depth multi-omic (immune-phenotype, proteomic, metabolomic, and transcriptomic) data, and artificial intelligence modelling to understand the disease.

Group members

  • Heather Cross, PhD student
Targeting and Programming of T and B Cells

Lead investigator: Dr Venkat Reddy

I am a clinical academic. I have three key areas of research interests spanning the life course in healthy ageing and autoimmune disease:

  1. Targeting of B lineage cells including anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies such as Rituximab and Obinutuzumab; CAR-T cells and T cell engagers; 
  2. Signalling pathways and metabolic programming of B and T cells 
  3. Interactions between the immune and musculoskeletal systems.
Omics and Machine Learning: Advancing Precision Medicine in Autoimmune Disease

Lead Investigator: Dr. Muhammad Shipa

This group is at the forefront of integrating omics and machine learning to transform the treatment of autoimmune rheumatic diseases, particularly systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Sjogren’s disease, and other rare conditions. In collaboration with leading researchers, the team is dedicated to identifying distinct disease endotypes and novel biomarkers that are essential for customising precision medicine. The goal is to develop an advanced machine learning platform that not only predicts patient responses to biologic therapies but also discovers new therapeutic targets, effectively translating groundbreaking immunological discoveries with next-generation clinical practice.

B Cell Depletion

Lead investigator: Prof. Jo Cambridge

This group focuses on B cell depletion (an idea it introduced with the now retired Professor Jo Edwards over 20 years ago to treat rheumatoid arthritis). It explores more precisely how the technique works and tries to explain the marked variation in response between different patients.

Are drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis harmful in pregnancy?

For the Medical Sciences Lecture Series, Prof. Ian Giles discussed whether stopping biologic drugs in pregnancy has harmful effects. Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women and often requires biologic drugs to control symptoms and prevent joint damage. Many women under treatment become pregnant, and there is uncertainty if biologic drugs should be continued. Treatment of RA in pregnancy is important because active arthritis may increase risk of adverse outcomes and is more likely if biologic drugs are stopped.

Medical Sciences Lecture Series

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Our experts

Coziana Ciurtin

Prof. Coziana Ciurtin

Liz Jury

Prof. Liz Jury

Michael Ehrenstein

Prof. Michael Ehrenstein

Ian Giles

Prof. Ian Giles

Professor Anisur Rahman

Prof. Anisur Rahman

Geraldine Cambridge

Prof. Jo Cambridge

Dr Lizzy Rosser

Dr Lizzy Rosser

Dr Thomas McDonnell

Dr Thomas McDonnell

Dr George Robinson

Dr George Robinson

Dr Muhammad Shipa

Dr Muhammad Shipa

Emeritus Professor David Isenberg

Em. Prof. David Isenberg

Emeritus Professor Jonathan Edwards

Em. Prof. Jonathan Edwards

Additional members

UCLH Honorary Staff
Postdoctoral Research Associates
Clinical Research Fellows
Research Technicians / Managers
  • Heather Thorn
  • Lucia Martin-Gutierrez
Research Assistants
  • Persephone Jenkins
  • Chadwick Pils
PhD Students
Administrative Staff
  • Esther Geary
  • Samia Jahangir
  • Mahnaz Abbasian

Selected Publications

  1. Radziszewska A, Peckham H, de Gruijter NM, Restuadi R, Wu WH, Jury EC, Rosser EC, Ciurtin C (2024). Active juvenile systemic lupus erythematosus is associated with distinct NK cell transcriptional and phenotypic alterations. Sci Rep. 2024 Jun 6;14(1): 13074.
  2. Oppong AE, Coelewij L, Robertson G, Martin-Gutierrez L, Waddington KE, Dönnes P, Nytrova P, Farrell R, Pineda-Torra I, Jury EC (2024). Blood metabolomic and transcriptomic signatures stratify patient subgroups in multiple sclerosis according to disease severity. iScience. In Press, Journal: February 14, 2024.
  3. Cope A, Jasenecova M, Vasconcelos JC, Filer A ... Ciurtin C, et al (2024). Abatacept in individuals at high risk of rheumatoid arthritis: a randomised, multi-centre, placebo-controlled phase 2B interception trial. The Lancet.
  4. Taylor PC, Askari A, Choy E, Ehrenstein MR, Else S, Nisar MK (2023). Approaches to optimising access to NICE-approved biologic anti-TNFs for patients with rheumatoid arthritis with moderately active disease. BMC Med 21, 55 (2023).
  5. Shipa M, Santos LR, Nguyen DX ... Isenberg DA, Gordon C, Ehrenstein MR (2023). Identification of biomarkers to stratify response to B-cell-targeted therapies in systemic lupus erythematosus: an exploratory analysis of a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Rheumatology, Vol. 5 (1) e24-e35.
  6. Sandhu HK, Booth K ... Rahman A, et al (2023). Reducing Opioid Use for Chronic Pain With a Group-Based Intervention: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA, 329 (20) 1745-1756.

  7. Farina N, Webster J, Luo W, Garelick D, Pinto SM, Isenberg D, Rahman A (2023). Factors associated with cardiovascular events in systemic lupus erythematosus in a monocentric cohort with up to 40 years of follow-up. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2023 Aug;61:152226.

  8. Clarke AE, Hanly JG, Urowitz MB, St Pierre Y ... Isenberg DA, Rahman A, et al (2023). Assessing the Costs of Neuropsychiatric Disease in the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics Cohort Using Multistate Modeling. Arthritis Care Res.
  1. Peng J, Donnes P, Ardoin S, Schanberg L, Lewandowski L, Robinson G, Jury ECiurtin C (2023). Atherosclerosis progression in the APPLE trial can be predicted in young people with juvenile-onset systemic lupus erythematosus using a novel lipid metabolomic signature. Arthritis and Rheum, 2023.
  2. Johnson SR, Gladman DD, Brunner HI, Isenberg D, Clarke AE ... Rahman A, et al (2023). Evaluating the Construct of Damage in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Arthritis Care Res.
  3. Wilkinson MGL, Moulding D, McDonnell TCR, Orford M, Wincup C, Ting JYJ, Otto GW ... Rosser EC*, Wedderburn LR* (2023). Role of CD14+ monocyte-derived oxidised mitochondrial DNA in the inflammatory interferon type 1 signature in juvenile dermatomyositis. Ann Rheum Dis. 2023 May;82(5):658-669.
  4. Robinson GA, Peng J, Peckham H, Butler G, Pineda-Torra I, Ciurtin C, Jury EC (2022). Investigating sex differences in T regulatory cells from cisgender and transgender healthy individuals and patients with autoimmune inflammatory disease: a cross-sectional study. Lancet Rheumatol. 2022 Aug 31;4(10):e710-e724.
  5. Kearsley-Fleet L, Baildam E, Beresford M ... Ciurtin C (2022). Successful stopping of biologic therapy for remission in children and young people with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Rheumatology, 62(5): 1926-1935.

  6. Szylar G, Wysoczanski R, Marshall H, Marks DJB, José R, Ehrenstein MR, Brown JS (2022). A novel Streptococcus pneumoniae human challenge model demonstrates Treg lymphocyte recruitment to the infection site. Sci Rep 12, 3990.
  7. Shipa MRA, Langley L, Sacks B, Yeoh S-A, Mainuddin MD, Mukerjee D, Castelino M, Ehrenstein MR (2022). Increased erythrocyte mean corpuscular volume by methotrexate predicts clinical response in psoriatic arthritis. Rheumatology, 61(9): e270–e273.
  8. Conrad N, Verbeke G, Molenberghs G, Goetschalckx L, Callender T, Cambridge G, et al (2022). Autoimmune diseases and cardiovascular risk: a population-based study on 19 autoimmune diseases and 12 cardiovascular diseases in 22 million individuals in the UK. The Lancet, Vol. 400 (10354), pp. 733-743.


Our new academic research laboratory on the fourth floor of the Rayne Building allows us to run virtually any kind of immunological experiment.

These range from the simplest ELISA to immuno-histochemistry and the very latest in flow cytometry using an image scanner which incorporates up to nine different colour variants identifying different cell populations.

We also work closely with colleagues in Cardiology, Respiratory, Pharmacology and Hepatology who each have their own specialists and imaging capacity.

Rayne Building

Funding and Partnerships

The logo for the URKI Medical Research Council. A quadrilateral, with 'UKRI' over navy on the left, and two teal portions on the right.

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Logo for the Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA)

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Clinical Services

Related programmes

Contact us

Lab Manager: Mahnaz Abbasian

Centre Administrator: Esther Geary

Research Secretary: Samia Jahangir


Centre for Rheumatology
UCL Division of Medicine
4th Floor, Rayne Building
University Street