Professor Helen Foster
Prof of Paediatric Rheumatology


Helen Foster trained in adult rheumatology and subsequently in general paediatrics and paediatric rheumatology. She leads active clinical and educational research programmes focussing on identifying barriers to specialist care, and has developed novel educational tools to facilitate earlier diagnosis and referral. There are numerous research collaborations at international level and an active clinical research portfolio within the CLRN. She is active within BSPAR Executive to champion best practice and Chairs the RCPCH Advisory Committee responsible for Higher Specialist Training in paediatric rheumatology in the UK.


Trained in adult rheumatology and subsequently in general paediatrics and paediatric rheumatology. Clinical Fellowship Paediatric Rheumatology, Vancouver, 1992-3.

Roles and Responsibilities

Academic lead paediatric rheumatology Newcastle University and
Honorary Consultant paediatric and adolescent rheumatologist, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Speciality Group Lead Paediatrics - NTW CLRN - 2012 -

Chair Royal College Paediatrics and Child Health Specialist Advisory Committee (Rheumatology) - responsible for national Higher Specialist Training in paediatric rheumatology - 2007-2013 

Scientific and Founding member Arthritis Research UK/MCRN Paediatric Rheumatology Clinical Studies Group (initiative of Medicines for Children Research Network and Arthritis Research UK to develop research strategy for paediatric rheumatology in the UK) - 2009

Representative for National Specialist Commissioning -Paediatric Rheumatology  

British Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Rheumatology Board 2007-2013

Paediatric Rheumatology European Society Training and Education Committee - UK representative 2007-2013

Associate Editor Rheumatology (Oxford)

Steering Group Pediatric Rheumatology Innovations in Medical Education


MBBS (Newcastle) Hons 1985
MRCP 1988
MD 1991
DCH 1995
FRCP 2000
Cert Med Ed 2002

Previous Positions

Arthritis Research Campaign Clinical Senior Lecturer Paediatric Rheumatologist (2001 - 2007)
NHS Consultant Rheumatologist (1996 - 2001), Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust
Arthritis Research Campaign Junior Research Fellowship (1989-1991)

Honours and Awards

Abbott - Innovation in Rheumatology - Educational research in rheumatology awarded to Newcastle Educational research group - 2007

National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) Patient in Focus award - Independence weekends for adolescents with rheumatic disease awarded to Newcastle paediatric rheumatology team - 2005

Wyeth "Moving Forwards" - Team award for rheumatology services 2004 

Research Interests

The clinical research programme focusses on understanding the barriers and drivers to paediatric rheumatological care and developing educational tools to faciliate earlier diagnosis and referral to specialist care.

The basic science programme focusses on understanding of biochemical and immunological mechanisms of joint damage and their role as prognostic indicators in early arthritis.

There are also numerous clinical research collaborations within the University, and national and international levels. There is active participation in clinical trials and an active NIHR portfolio. 

Current Work

Barriers to paediatric rheumatology care and educational research within paediatric musculoskeletal medicine to promote access to care

Colloborations within Newcastle University with the Newcastle Musculoskeletal Educational Research, the Institute Health & Society and the School of Medical Education. Collaborations nationally with Manchester University and colleagues within BSPAR. International collaborations with Paediatric Rheumatology International Trials Organisation (PRINTO) and Pediatric Rheumatology Innovations in Musculoskeletal Education (PRIME).

Future Research

Interventional strategies to improve access for care for children with rheumatic disease in resource poor countries

Implementation and evaluation of educational strategies in paediatric musculoskeletal teaching.

Esteem Indicators


Currently over £1 million grant income. Current Arthritis Research UK projects include:

Improving paediatric musculoskeletal clinical skills in medical students.
A study to develop Regional Musculoskeletal examination for use in school aged children.
Exploring barriers to care for children with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Paediatric musculoskeletal learning outcomes for trainees in primary care

Undergraduate Teaching

Personal Tutor, Educational supervisor SSC modules paediatric rheumatology. Tutor general paediatrics. Tutor Chronic Illness and Disability Rotation.

Postgraduate Teaching

Postgraduate teaching for General paediatrics, adult Rheumatology, paediatric rheumatology and Primary Care colleagues (locally, regionally and and nationally).

Educational Supervisor to Higher Specialist Trainees in paediatric rheumatology.