Celebrating our female researchers

19 February 2020
A group of female researchers looking at the camera with Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall in the middle.

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall smiling at the camera wearing a Versus Arthritis badge.Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall hosted a reception at Clarence House last night to celebrate the women who are leading the way in arthritis research.

From developing drug treatments to improving diagnosis, they are helping transform the lives of people with arthritis.

Her Royal Highness, who became a Patron for the charity in 2012, is passionate about supporting our work and it was an honour to be hosted by her at last night’s reception.

The women we’re celebrating lead over half of our thirteen research centres across the country, where they work on a broad range of innovative research projects. These include:

  • new treatments for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis,
  • rare diseases afflicting children,
  • using smartphone data to help make smarter surgical decisions.

Jennifer Lane, a researcher at The University of Oxford said: “My research uses big data to better understand the role of surgery in treating musculoskeletal conditions. It is such an honour that it has been recognised at this prestigious event.”

Collectively, they’re showing brilliant leadership for the next generation in understanding these conditions and improving treatments for millions of people.

Let’s take a closer look at what they’re working on.

Meet our researchers


Miss Jennifer Lane, University of Oxford

Jennifer is looking at the role that female hormones play in hand conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome and osteoarthritis and uses the data she collects from tools such as smartphone apps to help people make informed decisions about surgery. Learn more about Jennifer’s research.

Professor Tonia Vincent, University of Oxford

Tonia researches the causes of osteoarthritis and how these might be targeted to reduce the burden of this prevalent disease. You can read Tonia’s initial findings here.

Inflammatory conditions

Professor Fiona Powrie, University of Oxford

Fiona is looking to discover whether people with inflammatory arthritis have abnormal types of gut bacteria. Learn more about the research.

Professor Leonie Taams, King’s College London

Leonie wants to find the best options for therapeutic intervention of inflammation and to better inform treatment decisions.

Professor Maya Buch, University of Manchester

Maya’s work looks to improve drug outcomes for people with rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma.

Dr Lucy Norling, Queen Mary University of London

Lucy is researching how omega-3 fats could help manage the symptoms of arthritis and is training in tissue bioengineering to further her professional development.

Dr Helen Wright, University of Liverpool

Helen combines lab experiments with new technologies to understand how a particular type of immune cell can cause rheumatoid arthritis. Helen is also supervising the first Versus Arthritis Masonic Charitable Foundation PhD Scholarship. Learn more about the PhD scholarship.

Professor Frances Williams, King’s College London

Frances looks at common conditions causing high levels of disability in the general population, such as low back pain and other chronic pain syndromes. Find out more.

Dr Elisa Corsiero, William Harvey Research Institute

Elisa is helping to develop new diagnostics and therapies for clinical use by looking at how certain types of antibodies function in people with rheumatic autoimmune diseases and cancer.

Children and young people

Professor Lucy Wedderburn, University College London

Lucy is looking at the mechanisms of childhood arthritis, control of childhood immune responses and the development of methods to help doctors choose the right medicine at the right time. Read about Lucy’s work here.

Dr Clare Pain, University of Liverpool

Clare’s research aims to improve care and outcomes for children affected by musculoskeletal conditions.


Dr Charis Pericleous, Imperial College London

Charis’ research aims to prevent cardiovascular disease in people with rheumatic conditions such as lupus, antiphospholipid syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis. Find out more.

Sjögren’s Syndrome

Dr Elena Pontarini, William Harvey Research Institute

Elena is focusing on the biology of Sjögren’s syndrome, the second most common rheumatic autoimmune disease, and how to move from preclinical to clinical studies.

Dr Katie Hackett, Northumbria University

Katie is developing and testing a self-management smartphone app for people with Sjögren’s syndrome.


Dr Jessica Eccles, University of Sussex

Looking at the relationship between body and brain, Jessica trials and tests targeted treatments for people with hypermobility, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Learn more here.

Health and work

Professor Karen Walker-Bone, University of Southampton

Karen directs the MRC-Versus Arthritis Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work and leads a Medical Research Council programme in Southampton. Her own research focuses on how to prevent musculoskeletal disorders from making people unable to work.

Find out more about our research

Read more on the research we’re currently supporting and how to apply for funding.