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With a new year comes the opportunity for learning and development that inspires new ideas. Visit our eLearning platform this month to find out the latest on lupus to help advance your knowledge. We speak to Dr Megan Rutter, Clinical Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham and Chair-elect of our Trainees Committee.

Tell us about your involvement with BSR. Would you recommend it?

I was elected to Trainees Committee as West Midlands representative just under a year ago. I also took up the deputy chair role on the Trainees Committee at the same time, and I'm now chair elect. It's a fantastic opportunity to get involved in projects, meet the BSR team and collaborate with other clinicians.

Yes! I’ve been able to meet fellow trainees and consultants at a time when networking has been quite difficult. It’s also incredibly useful to compare how things are done in different regions, taking forward ideas to your own area.

How did you first get into research?

My route into research wasn’t traditional. It was only when I got to ST5 that it was recommended I do a clinical research fellow post as I had an interest in complex multi-system rheumatology. I was worried that it was too late, but I did a post in Nottingham which got me exposed to hands-on research. I then started getting involved with other projects and applied for a PhD; it’s been an unexpected turn in my career.

Tell us more about the RECORDER project you’re involved with.

It’s led by Dr Fiona Pearce at the University of Nottingham and the focus is rare diseases in rheumatology. We’re working closely with the National Congenital Anomaly and Rare Disease Registration Service in NHS Digital. Since COVID-19 hit, we’ve been focussing on how the pandemic has affected outcomes for these people using routinely collected data.

What have you found?

We looked at diseases such as vasculitis, lupus, scleroderma and myositis and linking those to PCR tests and death certificate data. The key findings with the first wave of the pandemic were that people with these conditions were more likely to test positive for COVID-19.

The other major finding was that people with these conditions were 2.4 times more likely to die with COVID-19 than people in the general population, when adjusting for both age and sex.

You also work with Versus Arthritis. Tell us about that?

I’m a trainee representative for their Research Advisory Group for autoimmune rheumatic diseases. It’s fascinating to be involved in the process shaping the direction of research, which involves working with clinicians and extensive consultation with patients.

Have you found eLearning and the spotlight series useful?

Going online can sometimes be overwhelming, whereas BSR has everything you need to know in a focused way. The spotlight series brings together lots of linked resources for a comprehensive piece of learning.  I’ve particularly found the lupus spotlight useful because it’s so broad. I enjoyed the paediatric and adolescent learning and the lecture on juvenile lupus. The podcasts have been valuable reminders and a great way to learn.

Improve your knowledge and skills on lupus by visiting our eLearning platform.