Arthritis Research Coalition

Arthritis Research Coalition Biobank

X-Ray 1 mild RA, diagnosed in 1998, with no damage to finger joints by 2005X-Ray 2 severe rapidly progressive RA, diagnosed in 1999, with severe damage to finger joints by 2005

About ARC

The Arthritis Research Coalition (ARC) was established in 2016 by rheumatologists across Ireland to support research studies and clinical trial activities. This multi-centre initiative involves the collection of clinical data and biosamples from patients with common rheumatic diseases. The aim is to enhance patient-centred research into the causes and treatments of rheumatic diseases.

The biobank will recruit patients with:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis led by Prof Doug Veale at St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus led by Dr Grainne Murphy at Cork University Hospital, Cork
  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis led by Dr Orla Killeen at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, Dublin
  • Gout led by Prof Geraldine McCarthy at The Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin
  • Scleroderma led by Dr Bernadette Lynch at University Hospital Galway, Galway
  • Autoinflammatory led by Dr Alexander Fraser at University Hospital Limerick, Limerick

Research Objectives

The primary objective is to recruit clinically characterised cohorts of patients with common rheumatic diseases and obtain biosamples (DNA, RNA, serum/plasma) that will underpin clinical research.

A secondary objective is to increase national involvement in clinical trials of novel therapeutic agents.

The Importance of this Research

A recent report assessing rheumatology research excellence, measured by the number of citations per article published between 1996 and 2010, ranked Ireland 1st of the 35 richest countries. Major research outputs have included molecular studies on the pathogenesis of common rheumatic diseases, the discovery and validation of prognostic biomarkers, and clinical studies on novel therapies. These have relied on the recruitment of highly characterized patients populations and by the development of linked biorepositories of blood and synovial tissue.

Despite these successes the research activity has been reliant on a fragmented and poorly funded infrastructure. The development of national rheumatology research networks in many European countries including Britain, Sweden and The Netherlands highlights their value. The establishment of Arthritis Ireland chairs, and the development of a Dublin Centre of Excellence, will form the foundation of national rheumatology research strategy, however, the development of a research nurse network will seek to engage all clinicians, co-ordinate all research activities and ensure that Ireland remains on top.

Funding to Date

This coalition is supported by Arthritis Ireland and the Health Research Board Clinical Research Coordination Ireland (HRB CRCI).


Coalition lead: Prof Gerry Wilson, University College Dublin


Rheumatoid ArthritisProf Doug Veale
Connective Tissues DiseasesDr Grainne Murphy
PaediatricsDr Orla Killeen
SclerodermaDr Bernadette Lynch
GoutProf Geraldine McCarthy
AutoinflammatoryDr Alexander Fraser


Recent Research Outputs from ARC leads

Prof Gerry Wilson

Attur M, Zhou H, Samuels J, Krasnokutsky S, Yau M, Scher JU, et al. Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist ( IL1RN) Gene Variants Predict Radiographic Severity of Knee Osteoarthritis and Risk of Incident Disease. Ann Rheum Dis. 2020 Mar; 79(3): 400-407. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2019-216055.

Nisha N, Wilson AG. Can machine learning predict responses to TNF inhibitors? Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2019 Dec; 15(12): 702-704. doi: 10.1038/s41584-019-0320-9.

Wilson AG, Sherwin J, Dorris ER. Patient and public involvement in biomedical research: training is not a substitute for relationship building. Ann Rheum Dis. 2019 Nov; 78(11): 1607-1608. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2019-215595.

Dorris ER, Linehan E, Trenkmann M, Veale DJ, Fearon U, Wilson AG. Association of the Rheumatoid Arthritis Severity Variant rs26232 with the Invasive Activity of Synovial Fibroblasts. Cells. 2019 Oct; 8(10): 1300. doi: 10.3390/cells8101300.

Nair N, Plant D, Verstappen SM, Isaacs JD, Morgan AW, Hyrich KL et al. Differential DNA methylation correlates with response to methotrexate in rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2019 Oct. kez411. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kez411.

Prof Doug Veale

Foley C, Floudas A, Canavan M, Biniecka M, MacDermott EJ, Veale DJ, et al. Increased T Cell Plasticity With Dysregulation of Follicular Helper T, Peripheral Helper T, and Treg Cell Responses in Children With Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and Down Syndrome–Associated Arthritis. Arthritis and Rheumatology. 2020 Apr; 72(4): 677-686. doi: 10.1002/art.41150

Murray K, Low C, O’Rourke A, Young F, Callanan I, Feeney E, et al. A quality improvement intervention failed to significantly increase pneumococcal and influenza vaccination rates in immunosuppressed inflammatory arthritis patients. Clin Rhematol. 2020 Mar; 39(3): 747- 54. doi: 10.1007/s10067-019-04841-6.

Wade SM, McGarry T, Wade SC, Fearon U, Veale DJ. Serum microRNA signature as a diagnostic and therapeutic marker in patients with psoriatic arthritis. J Rheumatol. 2020 Mar; jrheum.190602. doi: 10.3899/jrheum.190602.

Petrasca A, Phelan JJ, Ansboro S, Veale DJ, Fearon U, Fletcher JM. Targeting bioenergetics prevents CD4 T cell-mediated activation of synovial fibroblasts in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2020 Feb; kez682. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kez682.

Veale DJ, Fearon U. Next-generation analysis of synovial tissue architecture. Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2020 Feb; 16(2): 67-68. doi: 10.1038/s41584-019-0357-9.

Dr Grainne Murphy

O’Leary H, Larkin L, Murphy G, Quinn K. The Relationship Between Pain and Sedentary Behavior in Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Cross-Sectional Study. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2020 Apr. doi: 10.1002/acr.24207.

Murphy G, Isenberg DA. New Therapies for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus – Past Imperfect, Future Tense. Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2019 Jul; 15(7): 403-412. doi: 10.1038/s41584-019-0235-5.

Alqatari S, Visevic R, Marshall N, Ryan J, Murphy G. An Unexpected Cause of Sacroiliitis in a Patient With Gout and Chronic Psoriasis With Inflammatory Arthritis: A Case Report. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2018 Apr; 19(1): 126. doi: 10.1186/s12891-018-2044-4.

Alqatari S, Riddell P, Harney S, Henry M, Murphy G. MDA-5 Associated Rapidly Progressive Interstitial Lung Disease With Recurrent Pneumothoraces: A Case Report. BMC Pulm Med. 2018 Apr; 18(1): 59. doi: 10.1186/s12890-018-0622-8.

O’Connor A, Mulhall J, Harney SMJ, Ryan JG, Murphy G, Henry MT, et al. Investigating Idiopathic Inflammatory Myopathy; Initial Cross Speciality Experience With Use of the Extended Myositis Antibody Panel. Clin Pract. 2017 May; 7(2): 922. doi: 10.4081/cp.2017.922

Dr Orla Killeen

Foley C, Floudas A, Canavan M, Biniecka M, MacDermott EJ, Veale DJ, et al.
Increased T Cell Plasticity With Dysregulation of Follicular Helper T, Peripheral Helper T, and Treg Cell Responses in Children With Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and Down Syndrome-Associated Arthritis. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2020 Apr; 72(4): 677-686. doi: 10.1002/art.41150.

O’Leary D, O’Connor C, Nertney L, MacDermott EJ, Mullane D, Franklin O, Killeen OG. Juvenile systemic lupus erythematosus presenting as pancarditis. Pediatr Rheumatol Online. 2019 Nov; 17(1): 71. doi: 10.1186/s12969-019-0372-z.

Foley CM, Deely DA, MacDermott EJ, Killeen OG. Arthropathy of Down Syndrome: An Under-Diagnosed Inflammatory Joint Disease That Warrants a Name Change. RMD Open. 2019 Jun; 5(1): e000890. doi: 10.1136/rmdopen-2018-000890

Ramanan AV, Hampson LV, Lythgoe H, Jones AP, Hardwick B, Hind H, et al. Defining Consensus Opinion to Develop Randomised Controlled Trials in Rare Diseases Using Bayesian Design: An Example of a Proposed Trial of Adalimumab Versus Pamidronate for Children With CNO/CRMO. PLoS One. 2019 Jun; 14(6): e0215739. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0215739.

Foley C, Killeen OG. Musculoskeletal Anomalies in Children With Down Syndrome: An Observational Study. Arch Dis Child. 2019 May; 104(5): 482-87. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2018-315751.

Dr Bernadette Lynch

Lynch BM, Stern EP, Ong V, Harber M, Burns A, Denton CP. UK Scleroderma Study Group (UKSSG) guidelines on the diagnosis and management of scleroderma renal crisis. Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology. 2016 Oct 14;34(5):106-9

Sobanski V, Giovannelli J, Lynch BM, Schreiber BE, Nihtyanova SI, Harvey J, Handler CE, Denton CP, Coghlan JG. Characteristics and Survival of Anti–U1 RNP Antibody–Positive Patients With Connective Tissue Disease–Associated Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. Arthritis & Rheumatology. 2016 Feb 1;68(2):484-93. doi: 10.1002/art.39432.

Rezk T, Henderson SR, Lynch B, Burns A. Scleroderma renal crisis. British Journal of Hospital Medicine. 2013 Sep;74(Sup9):C130-3. doi: 10.12968/hmed.2013.74.Sup9.C130

Saber TP, Ng CT, Renard G, Lynch BM, Pontifex E, Walsh CA, Grier A, Molloy M, Bresnihan B, FitzGerald O, Fearon U. Remission in psoriatic arthritis: is it possible and how can it be predicted?. Arthritis Research & Therapy. 2010 Jun;12(3):R94. doi: 10.1186/ar3021.

Prof Geraldine McCarthy

Zaidi F, Narang RK, Phipps-Green A, Gamble GG, Tausche AK, So A, et al. Systematic Genetic Analysis of Early-Onset Gout: ABCG2 Is the Only Associated Locus. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2020 Jan; kez685. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kez685.

McCarthy GM, Dunne A. Calcium Crystals and Auto-Inflammation. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2020 Jan; 59(1): 247-248. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kez296.

Bursill D, Taylor WJ, Terkeltaub R, Abhishek A, So AK, Vargas-Santos AB, et al. Gout, Hyperuricaemia and Crystal-Associated Disease Network (G-CAN) Consensus Statement Regarding Labels and Definitions of Disease States of Gout. Ann Rheum Dis. 2019 Nov; 78(11): 1592-1600. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2019-215933.

Qiao J, Dunne E, Wines B, Kenny D, McCarthy GM, Hogarth M, et al. Plasma Levels of the Soluble Form of the FcγRIIa Receptor Vary With Receptor Polymorphisms and Are Elevated in Rheumatoid Arthritis. Platelets. 2020; 31(3): 392-398. doi: 10.1080/09537104.2019.1647527.

O’Neill L, McCormick J, Gao W, Veale DJ, McCarthy GM, Murphy CC, et al. Interleukin-6 Does Not Upregulate Pro-Inflammatory Cytokine Expression in an ex vivo Model of Giant Cell Arteritis. Rheumatol Adv Pract. 2019 May; 3(1): rkz011. doi: 10.1093/rap/rkz011.

Dr Alexander Fraser

Mohammed E, Browne KD, Kumar A, Adeeb F, Fraser AD, Stack AG. Prevalence and Treatment of Gout Among Patients With Chronic Kidney Disease in the Irish Health System: A National Study. PLoS One. 2019 Jan; 14(1): e0210487. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0210487.

Adeeb F, Stack AG, Fraser AD. New Insights Into Behçet’s Disease in Ireland: The Midwest Cohort Study. Clin Exp Rheumatol. Dec 2018, 26(6 Suppl 115): 33-39

McKenna S, Tierney M, O’Neill A, Fraser A, Kennedy N. Sleep and Physical Activity: A Cross-Sectional Objective Profile of People With Rheumatoid Arthritis. Rheumatol Int. 2018 May; 38(5): 845-853. doi: 10.1007/s00296-018-4009-1.

Kumar A, Browne LD, Li X, Adeeb F, Perez-Ruiz F, Fraser AD, et al. Temporal Trends in Hyperuricaemia in the Irish Health System From 2006-2014: A Cohort Study. PLoS One. 2018 May; 13(5): e0198197. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0198197.

McKenna SG, Donnelly AE, Esbensen BA, Fraser AD, Kennedy NM. The Impact of Exercise on Sleep (Time, Quality, and Disturbance) in Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Study Protocol for a Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial. Rheumatol Int. 2018 Jul; 38(7): 1191 – 1198. doi: 10.1007/s00296-018-4052-y.

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Data and sample access and ownership policy

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Participating in ARC

Patients looking to participate in the ARC biobank are advised to speak with their rheumatologist.

Contact information


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