How legacies have helped transform our work
Dr Mike Shipley, Consultant Rheumatologist and Clinical Director of the Centre for Rheumatology,
talks about how generous legacies have provided valuable funding for training and research.
When I first came to the Rheumatology Unit at the Middlesex Hospital in 1983 we were a small, but nationally recognised, unit with three consultants and several trainees.
We also had a strong track record of training and teaching and an internationally recognised rheumatoid arthritis study, started by Dr Mary Corbett in the 1960s and being undertaken by trainees under her supervision, with occasional internal grants.
In the late 1980s the rheumatology departments at UCH and the Middlesex were brought together in a rebuilt clinical unit at Arthur Stanley House, originally opened in the mid sixties to provide physiotherapy, occupational therapy, rheumatology and immunology.
Two patients treated at the original Middlesex centre decided to leave their entire estates for rheumatology training and research. It was to lead to significant changes in how we ran the department.
Charlotte Cooke left £100,000 for training and to enable our rheumatologists to travel to national and international meetings.
Matilda Poole left £200,000 to enable the department to sponsor research and researchers. This has included work on ankylosing spondylitis and research into how predictors of poor outcome for rheumatoid arthritis can be used to target treatment more effectively.
In the early nineties it became apparent that merging the UCH and Middlesex rheumatology units put us in a perfect position to start an academic rheumatology unit. We were helped by the Matilda Poole legacy, which had grown, with good investment, to around £300,000.
Over the last 15 years her legacy has been used to seed fund academic posts, enabling promising young rheumatologists to establish their research so that they could go on to academic appointments throughout the University.
Professor David Isenberg now heads a team of five Professors, two Senior lecturers and a team of clinical and non-clinical research fellows, researching rheumatoid arthritis and other auto immune rheumatic diseases. And the unit has become one of the premiere rheumatology units in the UK and internationally.
The team has continued to raise funds and over fifteen million pounds have been raised in research grants, donated or left as legacies to help develop the team and its research.
Without the generosity of Matilda Poole, Charlotte Cooke and others, the academic department would not have developed to its present stature and we are grateful to them and to others for their foresight and generosity.
We are also extremely grateful to the Middlesex Hospital Special Trustees, now UCLH Charity, for nurturing our investments and for their advice and support over the years.