Congratulations to Professor Michael Doherty on his retirement

09 November 2020
Professor Michael Doherty with a patient and standing next to an image of bones.
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Professor Doherty retired from the University of Nottingham, as the Head of the Academic Rheumatology Department, where he has been based since 1985, carrying out research and teaching alongside his clinical work.

Over the years, he has published over 370 original research papers, and received numerous awards and honours for both his research and teaching work.

A recent example of his research is a Versus Arthritis funded study showing that nurse-led care of people with gout, involving full education and patient engagement, is superior to GP-led care and is cost effective in improving outcomes in more than 9 out of 10 people with gout.

He’s also been one of the core members of our Pain Centre Versus Arthritis in Nottingham since its inception in 2010.

Thank you for working with Versus Arthritis

We would like to thank Michael for all the work he has done for Versus Arthritis. He’s been involved with the charity since becoming one of our research fellows in 1980, back when we were known as the Arthritis and Rheumatism Council.

During this time, Michael has helped us to do more for people with arthritis.

  • He’s been a champion of rheumatology teaching and training for healthcare professionals, having held several educational awards funded by the charity.
  • Played an active role in the charity’s educational committees and working groups, offering his expert review and guidance.
  • Helped us to produce health information for the public, and educational resources for healthcare professionals.
  • He’s always been passionate to provide people with the best possible care, to raise the profile of rheumatology conditions, and to help people understand their arthritis and how they can help themselves.

"We would like to thank Michael for all of the work he has done for the charity over the years. He has not only carried out important research funded by the charity, including his work at the Pain Centre Versus Arthritis, but has offered his expert review and guidance to the charity in a number of different functions, including being a real champion of clinical and academic careers. We wish you all the best for your retirement Michael, and we hope you enjoy your extra family time."

Stephen Simpson, Director of Research at Versus Arthritis

What inspired you to help people with arthritis?

We always love to know what inspires our researchers to help people with arthritis and get involved with research.

Michael told us he was inspired as a trainee doctor in Bristol by two senior doctors; Dr Michael Shipley showed him how important a positive interaction with healthcare professionals can be, particularly for people with chronic pain.

In addition, Professor Paul Dieppe inspired his interest in osteoarthritis and gout, setting him on the path of research to improve understanding and management of these conditions.

What have been your career highlights?

Michael’s career highlights have included:

  • Creating the GALS – Gait, Arms, Legs and Spine – screen, which is an initial musculoskeletal screening tool used by healthcare professionals before a more focused examination.
  • Writing the book 'Clinical Examination in Rheumatology' (1992) containing illustrations by his brother John who is an artist in Canada, and the 'Crystallisation of thought' project about gout misconceptions, involving artwork by his daughter Jill Tegan Doherty.
  • Working with several exceptionally bright, positive junior researchers and seeing them develop into highly successful researchers.

“Mike has been an inspirational leader both in education and research. His commitment to addressing the problems for people with arthritis has always been rock solid. He is the master of big ideas and life-changing `ah-ah moments’. He's both fair and supportive, encouraging the best from all who have worked with him. His expertise, experience and influence have carved an appropriately large space for people with arthritis, in Nottingham, in medical education, and across the world."

David Walsh, Co-Director, Pain Centre Versus Arthritis

What’s your advice for the next generation of researchers?

Michael’s advice to any aspiring researchers would be:

“Be prepared to work hard to learn all the required skills and focus on questions and conditions that truly interest you.”

“Research is a team effort, so engage openly and positively with everyone involved. As much as possible, be proactive in asking good research questions and working out the best way to answer them, rather than reacting to calls for studies that have been thought of and devised by others.”

What are your future plans?

Michael told us that he will continue to co-supervise current PhD students and collaborate with close colleagues on a limited number of projects. He remains very interested in strategies to improve the education and care of patients with osteoarthritis and gout.

He shared, “I'm now spending more time with my wife and family, including two lovely grandchildren who live close-by.”

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