The new TRAM (Train and Retain Academic Musculoskeletal Clinicians) programme is supported with a £2m grant from The Kennedy Trust for Rheumatology Research, and will offer opportunities for medical students interested in areas relevant to rheumatology and musculoskeletal disease to undertake a PhD doctorate alongside their medical training.

TRAM is the third joint PhD medical programme shared between the two Scottish institutions, after the MRC Doctoral Training programme in Precision Medicine and the Cancer Research UK TRACC (Train and Retain Academic Cancer Clinicians) programme, on which this latest PhD programme will be based.

Rheumatology research is a key focus for both the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. At the University of Glasgow, the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation leads the Versus Arthritis Rheumatoid Arthritis Centre of Excellence (in partnership with Universities of Birmingham, Newcastle and Oxford), and is the coordinating centre for the MRC-funded IMID-BIO (Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Disease Biobank). At the University of Edinburgh, there are internationally renowned programmes of research into musculoskeletal disease at the Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, and at the Centre for Inflammation Research (CIR). The CIR, alongside the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, are major components of its new £55M Institute of Repair and Regeneration at Edinburgh which will open in 2022.

The TRAM programme will build on existing experience in the TRACC Programme, which successfully recruited its first cohort of students during 2020. TRAM will be integrated within TRACC in order to build on this existing success, and to further strengthen the research and teaching collaboration between the two institutions.

Professor Iain McInnes, Vice Principal of the University of Glasgow and Head of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, said: “I am delighted that the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh are joining forces once more to deliver this ambitious rheumatology programme.

“Through the breadth and depth of research expertise at both our institutions we will be able to offer post graduate students a world-class training opportunity, and also showcase the real-world benefits of a partnership-driven, collaborative science.”

Professor Stuart H Ralston, Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Edinburgh, said “This award reflects the world-leading clinical and teaching expertise that we are so fortunate to have across the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. It has been estimated that one-third of all consultations in general practice are for musculoskeletal disease. I am confident that this innovative programme will support a new generation of clinician-scientists to improve outcomes for people living with musculoskeletal diseases over the coming years.”

Professor Sir Stephen Holgate, Chair of the Kennedy Trust saidT; “he MB PhD initiative combines two of the Kennedy Trust’s key aims: investment into translational research and the support of early career scientists. We are delighted to build upon the fantastic programme established by the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow and we are confident that the Trust’s MB PhD scheme will deliver the next generation of clinical academic leaders in musculoskeletal and inflammatory disease research.”