Professor Gary Macfarlane

Professor Gary Macfarlane
BSc (Hons) MBChB PhD CStat MD (Hons) FFPHM

Clinical Chair in Epidemiology

Overview
Professor Gary Macfarlane
Professor Gary Macfarlane

Contact Details

Telephone
work +44 (0)1224 437143
Email
Address
The University of Aberdeen Epidemiology Group, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, Health Sciences Building (1st floor), Foresterhill, Aberdeen, United Kingdom AB25 2ZD

Biography

Gary Macfarlane has been Chair in Epidemiology (Clinical) at The University of Aberdeen since 2005 and previously held the same post at The University of Manchester from 1999. He is also Deputy Director of the Institute of Institute of Applied Health Sciences And Honorary Consultant in the Department of Public Health in NHS Grampian. He trained in Statistics/ Computing Science and then Medicine at The University of Glasgow before undertaking his PhD at The University of Bristol. He worked at the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan before leading a programme of chronic pain research at the Arthritis Research UK Epidemiology Unit at the University of Manchester.

He leads the Epidemiology group at the University of Aberdeen which has programmes of research in Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases (RMD) and Ageing. The RMD programme focuses on: musculoskeletal pain (including fibromyalgia), rheumatic fatigue and axial sponyloarthropathy. It has current funding of ~£6m, it runs the British Society of Rheumatology Biologics Register in Ankylosing Spondylitis (BSRBR-AS), is establishing a similar register in Psoriatic Arthritis (BSRBR-PsA) and is part of the Arthritis Research UK/Medical Research Council Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work (with University of Southampton). Professor Macfarlane is a Chartered Statistician of the Royal Statistical Society and a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine. 

Research

Research Interests

My major research interests are in the Epidemiology of Rheumatic and Musculoskleletal Disorders (RMD) with a particular focus on pain (including fibromyalgia), fatigue and axial Spondyloarthritis (axSpA). I also undertake work in cancer epidemiology.

Current Research

British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register in Ankylosing Spondylitis (BSRBR-AS)

Funder: British Society for Rheumatology (who receive funds from AbbVie, Pfizer and UCB) 2012-18

CI: Professor Gary J Macfarlane

This is a  UK-wide cohort study of biologic therapy-naïve patients with axial Spondyloarthritis (axSpA according to ASAS criteria). There are two sub-cohorts: patients recruited as they are about to start anti-Tumour Necrosis Factor (TNF) therapy, and those that are remaining on traditional DMARDs. Patients are followed for up to 5 years. The primary outcome of the study is safety but secondary outcomes include disease indices, quality of life and work. The study also allows the opportunity to study the epidemiology of axSpA. In December 2016 the study had recruited 2200 subjects across over 80 centres. More details of this and other related studies in Ankylosing Spondylitis are available through our RMD theme webpages.

 

MAMmOTH study: investigating the prevention of chronic widespread pain and fibromyalgia

Funder: Arthritis Research UK (with treatment costs from NHS Grampian, Highland and Greater Glasgow and Clyde health boards) 2015-19

CI: Professor Gary J Macfarlane

This is the first ever randomised clinical trial being conducted which aims to prevent the onset of chronic widespread pain (the characteristic feature of fibromyalgia). We are recruiting persons at high risk of developing CWP and they are randomly allocated to receive either usual care or 8 sessions of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) delivered by telephone. Potentially eligible subjects are beimg identified through a large-scale population survey.


TRIO-POPULAR: Predicting the outcome of patients undergoing knee arthroplasty

Funder: Arthritis Research UK 2012-2017

CI: Professor Gary J Macfarlane

TRIO-POPULAR is a prospective cohort study of persons scheduled to undergo total knee arthroplasty (knee replacement). Patients are recrutied prior to their operation when individual, clinical and psychosocial factors are colelcted. They are then followed-up for two years after their operation to identify which have done well/poorly in terms of knee pain and function. The aim is to determine whether information collected prior to operation could help identify those patients most likely to benefit. This type of study can inform decision by clinicians in offerring patients the most appropriate management from which they are likely to benefit. Part of this study is nested within a randomised controlled trial of total knee arthroplasty testing whether, amongst people with pain and poor function post-operatively, intensive physiotherapy improves outcome.

Fibromyalgia: Optimal Management in patients with Axial Spondyloarthritis (FOMAxS)

Funder: Arthritis Research UK 2017-18

CI: Professor Gary J Macfarlane

FOMAxS is a study which ultimately aims to provide optinal management for patients whohave both axial Spondyloarthritis (AxSpA) and fibromyalgia (FM). Fibromyalgia has been shown to be more common in patients with AxSpA (and other inflammatory rheumatic arthritides), it may result in distortion of axSpA disease indices and result in inappropriate management. This study undertakes preparatory work for a future trial with the aims of a) assessing criteria for FM amongst patients with AxSpA, b) determining how common FM occurs in patients with AxSpA, c) developing and evaluating management using a cognitive behavioural approach for patients with co-morbid FM and AxSpA.

Collaborations

Medical Research Council/Arthritis Research UK Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work

Professor Macfarlane principal investigator for the Aberdeen spoke of this centre, which is based at the University of Southampton. Coordinated by the University of Southampton, the centre brings together fifteen different academic institutions across the UK, with interest and expertise in rheumatic and musculoskeletal disease, and its relation to occupation, to identify effective and cost-effective ways to minimise the adverse impacts of musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace. The work at the University of Aberdeen is focussed on investigating: media campaigns for low back pain; axial spondyloarthritis; pain management. 

European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) revised guidelines for the management of fibromyalgia

Professor Macfarlane chaired an international group of clinicians, allied health professionals and scientists from 12 countries across Europe, in revising EULAR guidelines for the management of fibromyalgia. Since the original EULAR fibromyalgia guidelines, more than fifty randomised controlled trials have been published concerned with the phramcological or non-pharmacological management of the conditions. The revised guidelines were published, in 2016, in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases: http://ard.bmj.com/content/early/2016/07/04/annrheumdis-2016-209724.full

UK-RiME : UK Research in Musculoskeletal Epidemiology

The UK Research in Musculoskeletal Epidemiology (UK-RiME) partnership is a national collaboration between eight epidemiology centres in the United Kingdom including Aberdeen. The partnership seeks to develop a co-ordinated training programme facilitated by exchanges between departments at PhD, post-doctoral, NIHR academic clinical fellow, clinical fellow and international trainee levels.  UK-RiME facilitates access to one another’s cohorts and share analytical expertise with each other and the UK musculoskeletal research community.

 

 

Teaching

Teaching Responsibilities

Postgraduate teaching

Professor Macfarlane contributes lectures to the "Introduction to Epidemiology" module which is part of two MSc programmes: Masters in a Public Health; Global Health and Management.  In addition he acts as tutor for the MBChB Special Study Module in "Evaluating Evidence".

Postgraduate (PhD) research students

The Epidemiology group currently has 4 PhD students. we welcome applications in our areas of interest. Professor Macfarlane is:

  • lead supervisor for LaKrista Morton who is undertaking a PhD on "Media Campaigns for Back Pain" and contributing to Aberdeen's programme of work within the MRC/Arthritis Research UK Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work. She also holds an Elphinstone PhD scholarship.
  • co-supervisor for Kinga-Janik-Koncewicz who holds an Elphinstone PhD scholarship and is undertaking PhD work on the contribution of obesity to the cancer burden in Central and Eastern Europe
  • co-supervisor of Hadeel Abbood who is based on the Dental School, but part of her work involves the relationship between oral health and axial spondyloarthritis 

External courses

Professor Macfarlane established a week-long Intensive Course in Applied Epidemiology (ICAE) at the University of Aberdeen.  This course has been run here since 2007, having previously been run for 15 years at the University of Manchester.  The course is highly rated by attendees, with recent attendees from as far afield as the Far East, South America and Australia.  For further details and / or to register for the 2016 course please see our ICAE web page.

The Epidemiology Group has strong links with the Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention at the Maria Sklodowska-Curie Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology, Warsaw, and in 2013 held the first Intensive Course in Epidemiology and Biostatistics in Warsaw.  2014 saw the first course in "Essentials in Epidemiology for Reproductive Health", held in Aberdeen.

 

Further Info

External Responsibilities

  • National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) Low Back Pain and Sciatica Guideline Development Group
  • US National Institute of Health (NIH): External Advisory Group Chair to OPPERA and OPPERA II studies
  • Scottish Pain Research Community (SPaRC): Member of Steering Group 

Admin Responsibilities

  • Deputy Director and Director of Research, Institute of Applied Health Sciences, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, University of Aberdeen

Membership of Professional Organisations

Publications

Publications 

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