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BSR has a number of Special Interest Groups, which bring unique and unparalleled insight into different areas of rheumatology.

There are a number of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) affiliated to us, which provide informal networks for the discussion and exchange of information within their subject area.

Each group is run by individuals who manage and organise meetings, information and proposals. These groups also submit session proposals to help shape Annual Conference content.

They are, and always have been voluntary groups, set-up by one or more individuals with the understanding that they operate for the benefit of an identified interest group.

The SIGs have an invaluable role to play in providing research and educational benefits to members. There are many things that SIGs are capable of achieving, for example organising collaborative or clinical scientific research projects, rationalising therapy, organising audit etc.

If you are interested in forming a new group or require any additional information, please contact Erin Taylor

Adolescent/young adult SIG

The Adolescent/Young Adult (AYA) SIG is an opportunity for paediatric and adult health professionals caring for adolescents and young adults with rheumatological disease to meet with, listen to and learn from one another.

The AYA SIG is linked closely to the Barbara Ansell National Network for Rheumatology (BANNAR), a multidisciplinary, national network of professionals working in both paediatric and adolescent rheumatology that provides a focus for resources to improve both research into, and clinical care for, adolescents and young adults.

Group objectives:
  • Promote high quality, young person-friendly, developmentally appropriate health services, engaging and informing stakeholders across paediatric, adolescent, and adult groups
  • Understand the challenges of ensuring continuous, high-quality developmentally appropriate health care for adolescents and young adults and explore how young person friendly, developmentally appropriate services have been achieved in different centres across the UK
  • Review recent advances relevant to the care and long-term health outcomes of young people with rheumatological disease
The AYA SIG meets annually for a planned programme of teaching. The programme is chosen in conjunction with the BANNAR membership and the meeting is coordinated by the SIG convenors. The SIG is an opportunity to present and discuss best practice and clinical research relevant to the field.

The AYA SIG does not have a formal membership. Clinicians expressing an interest in joining the group are directed to BANNAR. BANNAR meets twice yearly and has very clearly defined aims, objectives and terms of reference. Meetings are targeted at all stakeholders engaged with delivering or advancing the care of adolescents and young adults with rheumatological diagnoses.

Convenors: Dr Flora McErlane and Dr Martin Lee

B-cells and B-cell targeted therapies SIG

Optimal use of B-cell targeted therapies and their long-term safety is still not well established. There is a large potential for the development of more effective and/or safer B-cell targeted therapies for the treatment of autoimmune rheumatic diseases as new drugs continue to be developed in particular for the treatment of malignancies of B-cell origin.

Group objectives:
  • Provide an opportunity to meet, learn with and increase collaboration between adult and paediatric and adolescent rheumatologists and scientists with a special interest in B-cells and B-cell targeted therapies
  • Educate our community regarding up to date knowledge on these therapies, current optimal use and ongoing research projects
  • Contribute to writing Best Practice guidelines in this area
  • Establish collaborations with other specialities including haematologists, clinical immunologists and infectious disease specialists to contribute to safer use of these therapies and to possible development of new therapies
  • Establish collaborations with international groups with similar focus
Convenors: Dr Maria Leandro, Dr Venkat Reddy and Dr Edward Vital

Cardiovascular comorbidities in rheumatoid arthritis SIG

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the main co-morbidities and a principal cause of mortality in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The causes for this are still not clear, but classical CVD risk factors, systemic inflammation and other factors peculiar to RA (e.g. genes and therapies) all appear to play an important role. Pharmacological and lifestyle interventions for control of these risk factors are of importance.

The group exchanges information on current research and practice work streams, facilitates the exchange of ideas and the development of collaborating small or large networks to help provide answers to specific research questions, develop, implement and evaluate relevant guidelines and practice changes to the benefit of patients with RA.

Convenor: Dr Jet Veldhuijzen van Zanten

Crystal arthritis SIG

The Crystal Arthritis SIG aims to provide a focus and leadership for gout and calcium pyrophosphate crystal deposition. It ensures a high profile for crystal arthritis at Annual Conference and provides regular educational updates for rheumatologists, trainees and health professionals in rheumatology to share best practice and improve the management of these neglected conditions.

The SIG seeks to facilitate the exchange of ideas and information, promote the development of collaborative research projects, and to link to international crystal arthritis networks in Europe and the USA. Meetings are targeted at rheumatologists, GPs, nurses and AHPs.

Convenors: Dr Edward Roddy, Dr Abhishek Abhishek and Dr Kelsey Jordan

Education SIG

This SIG works closely with the Education Committee to build a multidisciplinary network of people with an interest in medical education and promote sharing of ideas and good practice.

Group objectives:
  • Highlight areas of good practice
  • Encourage people to get involved in developing our eLearning platform
  • Update clinicians in the field of clinical reasoning both with regards to their own clinical practice and how they can incorporate it into their teaching
Convenors: Dr David Coady and Dr Pippa Watson

Ethnicity SIG

The purpose of this SIG is to advance knowledge and understanding about rheumatological conditions and patient care for patients of minority ethnic groups.

Group objectives:
  • Consider ethnic variations in perception, awareness and acceptance of conditions
  • Explore patient education needs in minority ethnic groups
  • Explore development of patient education material in local languages
  • Promote local resources for patient information and support
Convenor: Dr Ash Samanta

Foot and ankle SIG

There's a growing body of knowledge in this previously poorly understood area of practice and it is attracting rising interest. The foot and ankle course is perennially oversubscribed and the growing evidence base has enabled foot-related recommendations to be included in the NICE clinical guidelines for osteoarthritis (OA) and RA, and ARMA standards of care.

The Foot and Ankle SIG attracts a diverse range of disciplines including medical practitioners and researchers in different fields (e.g. rheumatology, orthopaedics); allied health professionals (podiatrists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, orthotists); bioengineers; epidemiologists and others.

Group objectives:
  • Convene an annual meeting of the group and interested parties
  • Identify areas of common concern and devise strategies for their solution
  • Provide opportunities for the development of collaborative research projects
  • Provide a forum for discussion of ongoing work, work in evolution or the development of new ideas
  • Provide a forum for developing consensus-based statements or standards
Convenors: Dr Anthony Redmond, Dr Edward Roddy and Dr Lindsey Cherry

Heritable disorders of connective tissue SIG

This SIG covers all hypermobility, vasculopathy, and bone-related connective tissue disorders including Ehlers-Danlos syndromes, Marfan syndrome, Osteogenesis imperfecta and their allied conditions.

The group welcomes participation from all those interested in complex multi-system disease, clinical genetics, rehabilitation, and pain management. It aims to hold meetings in association with our Annual Conference and ACR's, and to support regional meetings on a regular basis.

Convenor: Dr Philip Bull

Infections in rheumatology SIG

Rheumatology has many pertinent infections-related issues. Immunosuppressant agents including the biologic therapies have transformed the management of various rheumatological conditions; however, infections in immunocompromised patients is a major concern. This SIG aims to provide a focused forum for clinical, educational and research purposes.

Group objectives:
  • Provide a forum for those interested in infections in rheumatology
  • Offer rheumatologists an opportunity to broaden their knowledge and keep abreast of the latest developments
  • Establish close links with national experts in the fields of microbiology, infectious diseases, orthopaedics, musculoskeletal radiology and nuclear medicine
  • Promote collaborative research and form close links with our biologics registers
  • Contribute to the development of clinical guidelines
Convenors: Dr Graham Raftery and Dr Muddassir Shaikh

Lung and rheumatic disease SIG

An association between positive rheumatoid factor and interstitial lung disease (ILD) in RA is well established. This group aims to share new developments in ILD and bronchiectasis. This SIG is for professionals interested in the management of patients with ILD complicating rheumatic disorders.

Convenor: Dr Clive Kelly

Musculoskeletal pain SIG

MSK pain challenges healthcare professionals and systems. This SIG is a forum for clinicians who wish to improve treatment and services for patients with chronic MSK pain. It is also a forum to meet others interested in chronic pain. Projects that the SIG is contributing towards include the National Pain Research strategy in conjunction with the NIHR, Wellcome and ARUK as well as leading the development of -approved Persistent Pain in Inflammatory Arthritis strategy.

Meetings are targeted at clinicians – including allied health professionals – with a professional interest in the management of pain, and researchers interested in networking with other professionals within the rheumatology community.

Convenor: Dr Nick Shenker

Myositis SIG

The UK MyoNet is an open group of physicians, scientists and others interested in the advancement of our understanding of the pathology and management of the idiopathic inflammatory myopathies. The group is multidisciplinary, including paediatricians, respiratory physicians, dermatologists and neurologists in addition to rheumatologists.

It meets twice a year to present recent research advances, plan future research projects and discuss clinical cases/issues. It has links with the European myositis research group EUMYONET and the international group IMACs and collaborates with them on various research projects.

This group represents a great opportunity to be kept up to date with advances in myositis as it occurs, and to get involved in research in the area.

Convenors: Prof Hector Chinoy and Dr Patrick Gordon

Nailfold capillaroscopy in the rheumatic diseases SIG

To establish a network of individuals in the UK with an interest in nailfold capillaroscopy, with a view to ensuring best clinical practice via increased knowledge/expertise in the technique.

Group objectives:
  • Share knowledge in how best to acquire nailfold images in everyday clinical practice
  • Share knowledge in how best to interpret nailfold images in everyday clinical practice
  • Inform professionals about ongoing research projects
Convenors: Dr Ariane Herrick and Dr Graham Dinsdale

Osteoarthritis SIG

OA is the most common form of joint disease worldwide and it continues to gain increased attention due to its clinical burden. This SIG aims to share new developments in OA. It's targeted at members with an interest in advancing research in this area.

Group objectives:
  • Promote development and dissemination of relevant guidelines and research
  • Promote public information about OA
  • Implement changes of best clinical practice
  • Determine future directions of research in OA
Convenor: Dr Fraser Birrell

Osteoporosis SIG

The osteoporosis SIG aims to provide a regular update for general rheumatologists on topical issues in osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease. In addition, it highlights the importance of osteoporosis and ensures that this key specialist area maintains a high profile at Annual Conference.

Its role also includes coordinating our response to new policy documents in the field of osteoporosis, including NICE guidance, ensuring that the views of practicing rheumatologists with an interest in osteoporosis are taken into account.

Meetings are targeted at rheumatologists, trainees, nurse specialists and allied health professionals working in the field of bone health.

Convenors: Dr Sarah Hardcastle and Dr Zoe Paskins

Physical activity SIG

Physical activity has been shown to be an effective intervention for patients with a variety of rheumatology conditions to improve challenging symptoms including fatigue, stiffness and pain.

Furthermore, it has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of comorbidities such as type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancer, depression and cardiovascular disease in the general population.

Physical activity prescription is currently underutilised in the NHS and amongst rheumatology patients. Many healthcare settings have limited resources and healthcare professionals lack confidence when discussing it with patients.

This sport and exercise medicine specialist interest group focuses on the latest evidence surrounding physical activity and the importance of promoting and delivering interventions amongst patients with rheumatological conditions.

Group objectives:
  • Focus on the latest evidence on the benefits of physical activity related to OA and MSK pain
  • Demonstrate models of care where physical activity has been incorporated into patient pathways and inspire clinicians to consider how they can integrate these concepts into their own practice
  • Explore effective strategies in consultations to motivate patients to be more active. In turn, it aims to generate awareness, positive discussion and future strategies to inspire patients
  • Promotion, education, dissemination and utilisation of the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine Inflammatory Rheumatic Disease Moving Medicine Module for Health Professionals to use with patients
Meetings are targeted at all healthcare professionals working with rheumatology patients, including doctors, physiotherapists, specialist nurses and occupational therapists. It will also be of interest to patient representatives.

Convenors: Dr Ralph Smith and Dr Julia Newton

Pregnancy and rheumatic diseases SIG

This SIG aims to provide educational updates for rheumatologists, trainees and health professionals, share best practice and improve the quality of care and management of rheumatic disease pre-conception, through pregnancy and postnatally.

Group objectives:
  • Share knowledge on the interplay between rheumatic diseases and pregnancy
  • Provide updates on research conducted in this area
  • Disseminate current evidence and recommendations regarding the use of pharmaceuticals and biologicals in pregnancy
Convenors: Dr Iona Thorne, Dr Oseme Etomi and Dr Ian Giles

Quality improvement SIG

This SIG provides an opportunity to publicise quality improvement (QI) initiatives undertaken by us and our members – including the RCGP QI project and the Choosing Wisely UK initiative.

Group objectives:
  • Work with us on our initiatives to promote QI work – NHS England Best Practice Tariff (BPT), the new Quality Review Scheme, Peer Review, Getting it Right First Time (GiRFT), links with the Care Quality Commission (CQC)
  • Work closely with our Standards, Audit and Guideline working group (SAGWG) to ensure that QI becomes an integral part of guideline development and of our coordinated audit work
Convenors: Dr Jo Ledingham, Dr Lizzy MacPhie, Dr Charlotte Sharp and Dr Iona Thorne

Rheumatoid arthritis SIG

The core members of this group are all involved in RA longitudinal cohorts and/or have major research interests in qualifying, quantifying and predicting different outcomes in RA. This covers clinical, functional, radiological, laboratory, comorbid and morbid, therapeutic, genetic, psychosocial and socio-economic aspects.

Discussions centre around: current status of these cohorts and how these can be harnessed in deliberations with funding bodies, our clinical affairs team and NICE; relevant and current findings in outcome research; the need for future clinical studies.

The group holds a two-hour session yearly with invited speakers and encourage participation from rheumatologists, scientists and health professionals. Meetings are targeted at rheumatologists, scientists, health professionals and patient support groups.

Convenor: Elena Nikiphorou

Rheumatology in low and middle income countries SIG

This SIG promotes and supports research, training and service provision in low- and middle-income countries.

Group objectives:
  • Promote rheumatology in low- and middle-income countries
  • Review advances in research related to rheumatology in low and middle-income countries and develop new projects through collaboration
  • Exchange information and ideas regarding projects focused on training and service provision and provide opportunities for collaboration in this
  • Set up an online database for collaborative projects which are underway to promote and encourage collaboration
Convenors: Professor Robert MootsDr Mwidimi Ndosi, Dr Zoe Rutter-Locher and Dr Fred Otieno

Scleroderma SIG

This SIG aims to provide updates on recent clinical trials and increase understanding of current assessment of scleroderma vascular disease. Meetings are targeted at people who have a clinical and research interest in scleroderma.

Group objectives:
  • Continue to foster close links with other relevant groups such as Scleroderma & Raynaud’s UK (SRUK) and UK Scleroderma Study Group (UKSSG)
  • Provide guidance about investigation and treatment of systemic sclerosis
  • Highlight key challenges and opportunities in trial design and disease assessment
  • Consider barriers that must be overcome to support successful clinical trial programmes for cutaneous vascular manifestations of systemic sclerosis
Convenor: Prof Chris Denton

Sjögren's syndrome SIG

The Sjögren's SIG aims to educate clinicians on the presentation & diagnosis of Sjögren's syndrome; its oral, ocular and systemic manifestations and optimal clinical management. The SIG updates clinicians on advances in diagnosis and treatment and promote and coordinate collaborative research into Sjögren's syndrome. Meetings are targeted at trainees and consultant rheumatologists, allied health professionals and rheumatology specialist nurses.

Convenor: Dr Nurhan Sutcliffe

Specialised commissioning in rheumatology SIG

This SIG aims to provide expert clinical advice and leadership to develop national commissioning polices and products.

Group objectives:
  • To provide update to clinicians regarding NHS England’s specialised services including rheumatology
  • To facilitate implementation of NHS England’s specialised commissioning proposals
  • To share good practice
Meetings are targeted at consultants, clinical nurse specialists and health professionals who provide a specialised rheumatology service.

Convenors: Dr Frances Hall and Dr Bridget Griffiths


The Spondyloarthritis (SpA) SIG covers issues relating to the group of conditions, including ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis (PsA). This SIG aims to keep all members up to date with a broad range of topics including early detection, assessment and new therapies.

It also covers research, guidelines and nationally relevant issues such as NICE guidelines and commissioning. The group meets once a year and also aims to keep all members updated via email during the rest of the year. The SIG will create the opportunity for networking and development of collaborations.

The field of SpA is evolving rapidly, and members will find this SIG an invaluable way of keeping up to date. Meetings are multidisciplinary and it welcomes input from all health professionals as well as patient groups.

Group objectives:
  • Update SIG members on upcoming initiatives, educational event and clinical trials
  • Submission of proposals to the Heberden Committee for SpA-related topics at our educational events
  • Work in collaboration on our behalf with partner organisations
  • Increase awareness and participation in BSR activities including registries and audit
Convenors: Dr Antoni Chan and Dr Bruce Kirkham

Telemedicine and remote monitoring

BSR's telemedicine and remote monitoring SIG provides a mechanism to share and disseminate best practice and experiences, as well as identifying important clinical and research priorities for this rapidly developing field.

The core aims of the SIG are:
  1. To provide a forum to facilitate the meeting of individuals with a special interest in telemedicine and remote monitoring in rheumatology
  2. Gather and share best practice and advances in telemedicine and relevant digital technologies in clinical practice and research (including issues and process of remote consent), to enhance rheumatology patient care
  3.  To develop educational materials and training sessions for the effective implementation of telemedicine and digital technologies into rheumatological healthcare settings
  4. Identify barriers to patient and clinician uptake and identify methods to minimise barriers to uptake (including identifying strategies to avoid digital exclusion)
  5. Involve patients and patient representatives to ensure that the SIG agenda and priority setting remains aligned with both patients and healthcare professionals requirements

Ultrasound SIG

The Ultrasound SIG formed with a view to increasing awareness of the benefits of ultrasonography in rheumatology practice. This dynamic group has grown over time, supporting the development and improvement of our ultrasound courses.

It meets annually at our Annual Conference, but has lots of informal contact through the year, sharing ideas around training needs and ways to increase appropriate use in practice.

Group objectives:
  • Support the use of ultrasound (US) in rheumatology
  • Raise awareness of the benefits of US in day to day practice, with a view to introducing elements of US practice into the training curriculum
  • Coordinate educational programmes for US, developing standardised training programmes and learning outcomes
  • Use the SIG as conduit for collaborative research
  • Develop local centres of excellence, and specialist skills (within SIG)
Convenor: Dr Ismael Atchia

Vasculitis SIG

The vasculitis SIG is a cross-specialty group focusing on the systemic vasculitides and related diseases. It promotes knowledge of and participation in studies of these uncommon and potentially life-threatening conditions. It reviews current and future planned studies and present evidence of work in progress.

It seeks active audience participation in the meetings as well as looking for centres to partner with them in many projects, which by their nature, usually require multi-centre involvement. The SIG wants members to join and get involved in activities at all levels, from learning about vasculitis and what SIG members do, to providing feedback on presentations through active discussion, and perhaps to take part in some projects as collaborative ventures.

Convenor: Prof Raashid Luqmani

Work and health SIG

This SIG aims to provide an opportunity for all those interested in health and work research, clinical practice and for dissemination of best practice in this field.

Group objectives:
  • Provide a forum for communication, information sharing and collaboration
  • Continue to develop a body of literature about musculoskeletal interventions that enhance work participation
  • Increase awareness of the importance of work as a health outcome

    Convenor: Prof Karen Walker-Bone