Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia

Staff Profile

Professor Helen Foster

Strategic Research Adviser



Helen graduated from Newcastle University medical school in 1985 and then trained in adult medicine, adult rheumatology and subsequently general paediatrics and paediatric rheumatology with a clinical fellowship in Vancouver, Canada. She has worked in the National Health Service (NHS) UK since 1985 and as a Consultant since 1995 at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Helen was appointed as Clinical Senior Lecturer in Paediatric Rheumatology 2001 at Newcastle University and awarded a Personal Chair in 2008.

She has always been a champion of best practice and an advocate for 'right care'. She has led successful clinical academic programmes focused on clinical and educational themes with collaborative partnerships across the world. She has represented paediatric rheumatology at a national and international level to develop and implement changes in clinical practice, training and research. She has contributed to NICE and WHO guidance.

Helen moved to Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia in 2018 to join the clinical teaching faculty. During this time she set up the Paediatric Global Musculoskeletal Task Force and further developed her global health interests to address unmet need for children with musculoskeletal problems. 

She returned to the UK from Malaysia in October 2020 and was appointed as University Strategic Research Advisor in November 2020 to focus on global health and international collaborations.

Current Roles and Responsibilities

Strategic Research Advisor Newcastle University 

Chair Paediatric Global Musculoskeletal Task Force

Founder and Chief Editor Paediatric Musculoskeletal Matters -

Advisor to World Health Organisation (WHO) - Musculoskeletal disabilities in children

Advisor to Public Health England (PHE) - Musculoskeletal Framework

Advisor to Versus Arthritis (UK) - paediatric musculoskeletal matters and resources

Pediatric Rheumatology Online Journal Editorial Board and reviewer

Honorary Consultant Great North Children's Hospital, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, UK

Previous roles

Lead North East and North Cumbria Paediatrics Clinical Research Network 2014-2017 

Lead Clinical Reference Group Paediatric Medicine (rheumatology) - NHS England Specialist Commissioning 2012-2015

Chair Royal College Paediatrics and Child Health Specialist Advisory Committee (Rheumatology) - 2002-2015, Training Advisor, Quality Advisor

Chair European League Against Rheumatism / Paediatric Rheumatology European Society Recommendations for Transitional Care 2014-2016

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) - 2009-2014

Board member British Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Rheumatology 2007-2013

Board member Paediatric Rheumatology European Society Training and Education Committee - 2007-2013

Associate Editor Rheumatology journal 2008-2014


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 Research Fellowship (1989-1991)

Honours and Awards

Barbara Ansell Medal and Invited lecture - British Society for Rheumatology Annual Meeting 2018 

British Society for Rheumatology Best Model of Practice 2018 for 'Rightpath' (Paediatric Musculoskeletal Triage in the community) in partnership with Pennine MSK and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust.

Innovation in Rheumatology - Educational Research Award 2007

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

"Moving Forwards" - Team Award 2004

Hospital Doctor Finalist - 2001

Academic secretary

Janet Herdman


Research Interests

Our work aims to improve access to care for children with musculoskeletal problems and has informed international standards, best practice and NICE guidance.

Our work has progressed to the wider health care context in low and middle resource income countries around the world with efforts to raise awareness, workforce capacity build and lobbying for change through policy and guidelines.

Key Interventions include:

  • Novel evidence based educational resources targeting all health care professionals involved in care pathways for children - pGALS, pREMS and PMM.
  • Models of care to facilitate earlier diagnosis and access to specialist care - RightPath, pGALSplus
  • Evaluation of impact and reach of e-technologies - PMM e-portfolio (website, apps and e-modules).
Academic supervision

PhD, MD, MReS, BSc.

Medical student selected modules and audit projects.


Paediatric Musculoskeletal Matters portfolio (PMM - - Founder and Chief Editor

PMM launched November 2014, as a free evidence based e-resource. NICE approved 2016 

PMM International launched 2018 -  revised content with global partners launched 2018

PMM Nursing launched 2017. Royal College Nursing Endorsed 2018, 2019

pGALS app including multiple language translations. 

PMM e-modules targeting medical students, primary care and paediatricians -

Clinical teaching

Medical students (Newcastle UK and Malaysia)

Trainees in primary care and general paediatrics

Allied health professionals


MBBS (UK and Malaysia)