Institute of Cellular Medicine

Staff Profile

Dr Fraser Birrell

Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer


Title of current posts         

  • Consultant & Senior Lecturer in Rheumatology, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
  • Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer, Newcastle University
  • Honorary Consultant Rheumatologist, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust                All May 2002-

Area of expertise

Translational Epidemiology

Osteoarthritis- biomarkers and treatment

Musculoskeletal Ageing

Group Consultations (aka Group Clinics; Academic Lead of Shared Medical Appointments UK)

Patient Engagement (Engagement Lead for CIMA) 


My role is 6 sessions clinical, 3 sessions undergraduate teaching (SIFT), 2 sessions postgraduate teaching & research (Degree Programme Director Masters of Clinical Research) & 0.5 session CLRN. There is agreement through the PDR process & appraisal to increase research time. I am both clinically qualified and clinically active.

Employment History

Specialist Registrar to: Dr PA Sanders, Dr B Pal & Dr A Ismail, Rheumatology,

South Manchester University Hospitals

Honorary Clinical Research Fellow, arc Epidemiology Unit (now ARUK)                                 Aug 2001-April 2002

Specialist Registrar to: Dr RM Bernstein & Dr I Bruce, Rheumatology, Manchester Royal Infirmary

Honorary Clinical Research Fellow, arc Epidemiology Unit (now ARUK)                                 Feb 2000-July 2001

Clinical Epidemiology Training Fellow: Professor AJ Silman (supervisor) & Dr GJ Macfarlane (adviser)          

                                arc Epidemiology Unit, University of Manchester (now ARUK)                  Feb 1997-Jan 2000

Registrar to: Dr RC Butler & Dr AF Macleod, Rheumatology & General Medicine/Endocrinology, Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, Oswestry  Feb 1996-Jan 1997

Registrar to: Dr T Price, Dr TP Sheeran & Dr AB Hassell, Dr J Gibson, Dr J Elizabeth

Rheumatology & General/Elderly Medicine, Cannock Chase Hospital                                     Feb 1995-Jan 1996

Senior House Officer to: Prof. J Walls, Dr J Feehally, Dr K Harris & Dr G Warwick

                                Nephrology, Leicester General Hospital                                                                          Aug 1994-Jan 1995

Senior House Officer to: Prof. DB Barnett, Dr KL Woods & Dr LL Ng

                                Clinical Pharmacology & Medicine, Leicester Royal Infirmary                                        Feb-July 1994

Senior House Officer to: Prof. David de Bono & Dr PJB Hubner

                                Cardiology, Groby Road Hospital & Glenfield General Hospital                             Aug 1993-Jan 1994

Senior House Officer to:  Dr DR Ives, Medicine for the Elderly, Leicester Royal Infirmary                            May-July 1993

Senior House Officer to: Dr MA Stern & Dr A Scriven. Medicine, Immunology & Cardiology,
                                Leicester General Hospital                                                                                             Feb-April 1993

Pre-registration House Surgeon to: Mr DNL Ralphs, Mr BA Ross & Mr R Vaughan.

                                General & Thoracic Surgery, Norfolk & Norwich Hospital                                       Aug 1992-Jan 1993

Pre-registration House Physician to:  Dr G Neale, Dr JO Hunter  Dr BL Hazleman, Dr AJ Crisp & Dr JR Jenner,                            Medicine, Gastroenterology & Rheumatology, Addenbrooke’s Hospital                                        Feb-July 1992



Secondary: The Manchester Grammar School                                                              1979-

Undergraduate: Emmanuel College, Cambridge                                                           1986-

Clinical School: Addenbrooke’s, Cambridge                                                                  1989-

Leicester SHO Rotation in Medicine                                                                              1993-

North Midlands Specialist Registrar Rotation in Rheumatology                                    1995-

PhD: ARUK Epidemiology Unit, University of Manchester                                            1997-

North West Specialist Registrar Rotation in Rheumatology                                          2000-2

Postgraduate Certificate & Diploma in Clinical Education                                             2004-9



BA (Hon’s, Med Sci Tripos, Cantab. IIi) Part II Physiology                                            1989

MB, B Chir (Cantab.)                                                                                                     1991

MA (Hon’s, Cantab.)                                                                                                      1993

MRCP (UK)                                                                                                                    1994

FRCP (RCP London)                                                                                                     2007

PhD (Manchester)                                                                                                          2000

Certificate & Diploma of Clinical Education (Newcastle)                                               ,2004 & 2009

Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy                                                    2018



  • LEA Scholarship to Manchester Grammar School
  • Junior & Senior Exhibitions, Emmanuel College
  • Fisons Prize, Paed’s Dept, Addenbrooke’s (for paper on Cystic Fibrosis)
  • Desmond Hawkins Award, University of Cambridge
  • Commonwealth Foundation Elective Bursary
  • 3M Elective Competition, First prize (Cambridge)
  • Leicester Hospitals Case Presentation Competition, First Prize
  • (for presentation on Wegener’s granulomatosis)
  • arc/ARUK Clinical Epidemiology Training Fellowship
  • British Society for Rheumatology Young Investigator Award 
    (for research on progression of hip osteoarthritis)
  • BSR Innovation in Development Award (for Group Clinic pilot)

My research students have also been awarded:

  1. British Society for Rheumatology Young Investigator; OARSI Young Investigator; DOHAD Young Investigator; EULAR bursary; ARUK Primary Care regional & national prizes; Zeshan-Qureshi Award for Outstanding Achievement in Medical Education


Recent & Current Grants

PROvision of braces for Patients with knee OsteoArthritis (PROP OA): a randomised controlled trial

National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment Commissioned Call: 16/160 Knee Braces in the Management of Knee Osteoarthritis


Co-applicant & Principal Investigator for Northumbria Site (1 of 3 sites; CI: Prof George Peat, Keele)



Are microRNAs a molecular clock for biological and musculoskeletal ageing? The Newcastle Thousand Families Study (NTFS)

National Institute for Health Research Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre Project Grant


Principal Investigator



Industry Partnership HTG

Loan equipment provided by HTG (equipment value £120,000)

Partnership discount saving on Edgeseq analysis= £750-£125=£625 per sample (for 390 samples) = £243,750

Training & support £10,000


Group Consultations; a potential solution to the workforce crisis in primary care.

Health Education England NE


Joint Principal Investigator



Centre for Integrated research into Musculoskeletal Ageing (CIMA) Renewal

Medical Research Council & Arthritis Research UK


Co-investigator: Engagement Lead

£1,999,998.00 (FEC £2.45m)


CIMA equipment award (Qubit™ fluorometric quantitation)

Medical Research Council & Arthritis Research UK

Co-investigator (with Tania Jones & David Young)




PROMOTE: a trial to treat painful knee osteoarthritis

Arthritis Research UK

Principal Investigator for multicentre study (Philip Conaghan CI)




HERO: does hydroxychloroquine provide effective pain relief for people with hand osteoarthritis?

Arthritis Research UK

Principal Investigator for multicentre study




Arthritis Research UK Experimental Arthritis Treatment Centre- Newcastle

Arthritis Research UK





CIMA Clinical Fellowship: Lifecourse influences on the development of structural changes on pMRI

Arthritis Research UK & Medical Research Council

Chief Investigator




A pilot study to investigate the role of CILP in predicting the development of Osteoarthritis

NIHR BRC for Ageing





X-ray Reconstruction of Moving Morphology (XROMM) for human and veterinary biomechanics

Medical Research Council

Co-Investigator (Lead for Newcastle; Karl Bates CI)

September 2013