Professor Christopher Buckley DPhil FRCP

Image of Chris Buckley

Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
Kennedy Professor of Translational Rheumatology
Director of the Birmingham NIHR Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility

Contact details

Rheumatology Research Group
Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Birmingham, B15 2WB

Chris Buckley is the Kennedy Professor of Translational Rheumatology at the Universities of Birmingham and Oxford. He is  Director of Clinical Research at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology in Oxford and Director of NIHR Infrastructure for Birmingham Heath Partners. He leads the Arthritis Therapy Acceleration Programme (A-TAP) which aims to deliver “stratified pathology” in a range of immune mediated inflammatory diseases in order to choose the right disease indication for the right drug. This approach complements stratified medicine where the aim is to choose the right drug for the right patient. His laboratory explores the role of fibroblasts in driving disease progression and tissue tropism in Immune Mediated Inflammatory Diseases.

Chris is part of the Modality Partnership, a single GP organisation that operates across 35 different locations as the first national GP super-partnership in the UK. A super-partnership is an organisation that combines the advantages of small GP practices working closely in local communities, with the medical and technological opportunities of a larger scale operation. Modality is dedicated to improving healthcare provision and extending the opportunity for patients in primary care to take part in experimental medicine studies by operating at a larger scale.

Chris has made major contributions to scientific administration through his roles with the Arthritis Research UK (Chair of the Fellowship Committee as well as EULAR (Scientific Programme organizing committee).   He is closely involved in the development of clinical academics and he is a strong and eloquent advocate for clinician scientists in several fora.


  • FRCP Medicine London 2006
  • DPhil Medicine Oxford 1996
  • MB BS University of London 1990
  • BA Biochemistry (1st Class) Oxford 1985


Chris obtained a degree in Biochemistry from the University of Oxford (1985) with subsequent undergraduate training in Medicine (MBBS) at the Royal Free Hospital, London (1990). His postgraduate medical training was in General Medicine and Rheumatology at the Hammersmith Hospital, London (Mark Walport, Dorian Haskard), and John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. Chris obtained a DPhil arising from a Wellcome Trust Clinical Training Fellowship with John Bell and David Simmons at the Institute Molecular Medicine, Oxford in 1996. Funded by a Wellcome Trust Clinician Scientist Fellowship, he joined the Department of Rheumatology in Birmingham later that year. In 2001, he was awarded an MRC Senior Clinical Fellowship and in 2002 became Arthritis Research UK Professor of Rheumatology. In 2012, Chris was appointed Director of the Birmingham NIHR Clinical Research Facility. In 2017 he took up a new joint academic post between the Universities of Birmingham and Oxford as Director of Clinical Research at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology Oxford and Director of NIHR Infrastructure in Birmingham for Birmingham Health Partners.


My commitment and enthusiasm for training academic clinicians is evidenced by presentations at the Royal College of Physicians careers in academic medicine conference (2012) and as guest presenter at the ARUK Annual Fellows Meeting (2007 and 2016). Through the Birmingham Institute of Translational Medicine, I am involved in establishing training schemes to support and develop clinical and non-clinical trainees prior to their full application for fellowships. I mentored and developed basic scientists undertaking translational PhDs, clinicians undertaking PhDs and supervised and sponsored scientists and clinicians holding personal fellowships. As director of the CRF, I oversee the training of health professionals, including nurses and clinical fellows. Internationally, I have led on preceptorships for clinicians visiting the NHS to learn how to set up and deliver early arthritis services

Committee member: Representing Academic development on the West Midlands Health Education England Training Programme. I have an extensive track record of training/mentoring translational research physicians in my role as academic lead in the organization, delivery and assessment of competencies for specialist registrars in Rheumatology in the West Midlands Deanery

Committee member: Integrated Academic Training Programme in Birmingham. I lead an NIHR integrated Academic Rheumatology programme, comprising 6 foundation year academic trainees, 3 academic clinical fellows and 2 clinical lecturers.

Chairman of ARUK Fellowship Committee (2005-2009)

Medical Research Society Committee Member responsible for organizing the annual Medical Research Society meeting with the Academy of Medical Sciences (2004-10)

Postgraduate supervision

Chris is interested in supervising doctoral research students in the role of stromal cells in inflammation.

He is particularly keen on mentoring and supporting medical doctors early in their academic careers. He sits on the College’s Integrated Clinical Academic Training committee.

PhD students supervised

Paul Bradfield 1998-2002 Post-doctoral fellow, Geneva, then founder MesenFlow Technologies, Geneva, Switzerland

Nicole Amft 1999-2002 Consultant Rheumatologist & Honorary Senior Lecturer, University of Edinburgh

Angela Burman 2000-2003 Post-doctoral fellow, Brisbane, then Project Manager, Australian Cancer Society

Oliver Haworth 2002-2005 Post-doctoral fellow, Brigham & Women’s Hospital Boston, USA, then Lecturer,

Queen Mary’s University, London

Ewan Ross 2001-2005 Post-doctoral fellow, Birmingham, then Research Fellow, University of Glasgow

Tie Zheng Hou 2004-2008 Post-doctoral fellow, Birmingham, then post-doctoral fellow UCL London

Debbie Hardie 2002-2008 (part time) Post-doctoral fellow, RRG, University of Birmingham

Sarah Flavell 2005-2009 Clinical Trials Project Manager, Newcastle University

Ruth Coughlan 2007-2010 Medical Publishing, Oxford

Saba Nayer 2009-2013 Post-doctoral fellow, RRG, University of Birmingham

Joana Campos 2013-2017 Post-doctoral fellow, RRG, University of Birmingham

Thomas Cowley and Jason Turner 2013-17 Current students

Clinical and Basic Science Fellows supervised

ARUK Clinician Scientist. Dr Andrew Filer Stromal markers in early rheumatoid arthritis: the role of fibroblasts

markers in determining progression to and outcome in rheumatoid arthritis (2009-2013 ) £482,509

Wellcome Trust Clinician Scientist Fellowship. Dr Francesca Barone. Leucoyte-stromal cell interactions in the

pathogenesis of Sjögrens Syndrome (2010-2014) £734,721 and ARUK Senior Fellowship (2016-2021) £975,000

Wellcome Trust Clinical Training Fellowship. Dr Maria Juarez. Epigenetic regulation of the RA synovial

fibroblast in the switch to persistent disease (2011-2014) £233,280

ARUK Career Development Fellowship. Dr Helen McGettrick Exploring the role of synovial fibroblasts in

regulating leukocyte accumulation during the development of persistent arthritis (2012-2017) £400,000

Wellcome Trust Post-Doctoral Clinical Fellowship Dr Adam Croft. The role of Regulatory T lymphocyte-Fibroblast interactions in the resolution of inflammation (2015-2018) £270,000


A characteristic feature of chronic inflammatory reactions is their persistence and predilection for certain anatomical sites. Over the last ten years my group has demonstrated that tissue resident stromal cells (fibroblasts) are much more important than originally thought in determining both the switch to persistence as well as the site at which inflammation occurs. In chronic inflammation the resolution phase is delayed and disordered leading to the persistent accumulation of the inflammatory infiltrate. Our work has allowed us to propose that a stromal area post code, predominantly defined by fibroblasts, exists within tissues. Our hypothesis predicts that components of this stromal area post code become disordered during inflammation, leading to the accumulation of lymphocytes in structures that resemble lymphoid tissues. We have proposed that inflammation is not generic but contextual and therefore differences in the response of different inflammatory diseases to therapy are likely to be due to intrinsic differences in the behavior of stromal cells within different microenvironments. We suggest that stromal cells in general and fibroblasts in particular offer a new family of organ specific targets to treat chronic immune mediated inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease.

Other activities

University leadership

2008- Present Director of the Rheumatology Research Group which comprises over 50 scientists, clinicians and academic staff who focus specifically on translational research in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Sjögren’s syndrome. Their total active grant income is over £10M. 2016-Present Deputy Director of the Institute for Inflammation and Ageing

2016- Present Director of NIHR Infrastructure for Birmingham Health Partners; a partnership between the University and NHS partners. In this role I was responsible for helping to co-ordinate bids to the NIHR that have led to over £40M to NHS partners in 2016-17

2016-Present Theme lead in Arthritis for the Birmingham BRC in Inflammation

National leadership

2003-2008 Chairman of UK Adhesion Society Group

2010-Present Birmingham lead on the NIHR Translational Research Partnership/Collaboration

(TRP/C) in Joint and related Inflammatory diseases. I was selected to represent the TRP at the UK

Trade and Investment showcase of innovation in the NHS during the 2012 Olympics; part of the UK

Government Office for Life Sciences.

 2014-2017 BHF Programmes and Chairs committee

 2015-2017 MRC EMINENT grant committee

Involvement in Equality and Diversity (2014-15) our work on self-management and education in rheumatoid arthritis particularly in ethnic minorities has been commended in a National Audit Officereport. Arthrits-Therapy Acceleration Programme (A-TAP). I direct the A-TAP, an initiative funded through the Kennedy Trust for Rheumatology Research which links the Universities of Oxford and Birmingham with five NHS Trusts along the M40 corridor to deliver signal seeking, pathway focussed early pahse clinical trials in a range of Immune Mediated Inflammatory Diseases. The A-TAP will be underpinned through NIHR infrastructure and will work to support the NIHR's vision to provide a health research system in which the NHS supports outstanding individuals working in world-class facilities, conducting leading-edge research focused on the needs of patients and the public.

International Leadership

Member of external advisory boards for academic institutes and government organizations the Netherlands in USA and Canada

2000-2004 Council Member of Human Cell Differentiation Markers (Formally HLDA) Responsible for

2004 CD workshop stromal cell classification

2014-2017 EULAR FOREUM Executive Committees.

Scientific Committee Member EULAR Congress (2009-2014) In 2012 led the organization of the annual European EULAR rheumatology meeting with over 15,000 delegates.

2015-2020 Editor in Chief of Arthritis Research and Therapy (4th most cited Rheumatology Journal

2017. Contributed to the EULAR guidelines on the management of RA [Ann Rheum Dis. 2017 76):960.PMID: 28264816]

Prizes for leadership in my field

Eijkman Lecture and Medal (2001) University of Utrecht, Netherlands

Linacre Medal and Lecture (2002) Royal College of Physicians London, UK.

Michael Mason Prize (2003) British Society for Rheumatology

Shoenlein Lecture and Medal (2016) University of Erlangen

Herberden Oration (2017) British Society for Rheumatology



Pathologically expanded peripheral T helper cell subset drives B cells in rheumatoid arthritis.

Rao DA, Gurish MF, Marshall JL, Slowikowski K, Fonseka CY, Liu Y, Donlin LT, Henderson LA, Wei K, Mizoguchi F, Teslovich NC, Weinblatt ME, Massarotti EM, Coblyn JS, Helfgott SM, Lee YC, Todd DJ, Bykerk VP, Goodman SM, Pernis AB, Ivashkiv LB, Karlson EW, Nigrovic PA, Filer A, Buckley CD, Lederer JA, Raychaudhuri S, Brenner MB.

Nature. 2017 Feb 1;542(7639):110-114. doi: 10.1038/nature20810.

Epigenetically-driven anatomical diversity of synovial fibroblasts guides joint-specific fibroblast functions.

Frank-Bertoncelj M, Trenkmann M, Klein K, Karouzakis E, Rehrauer H, Bratus A, Kolling C, Armaka M, Filer A, Michel BA, Gay RE, Buckley CD, Kollias G, Gay S, Ospelt C.

Nat Commun. 2017 Mar 23;8:14852. doi: 10.1038/ncomms14852. 

IL-22 regulates lymphoid chemokine production and assembly of tertiary lymphoid organs.

Barone F, Nayar S, Campos J, Cloake T, Withers DR, Toellner KM, Zhang Y, Fouser L, Fisher B, Bowman S, Rangel-Moreno J, Garcia-Hernandez Mde L, Randall TD, Lucchesi D, Bombardieri M, Pitzalis C, Luther SA, Buckley CD.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Sep 1;112(35):11024-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1503315112. Epub 2015 Aug 18.

Homeostatic regulation of T cell trafficking by a B cell-derived peptide is impaired in autoimmune and chronic inflammatory disease.

Chimen M, McGettrick HM, Apta B, Kuravi SJ, Yates CM, Kennedy A, Odedra A, Alassiri M, Harrison M, Martin A, Barone F, Nayar S, Hitchcock JR, Cunningham AF, Raza K, Filer A, Copland DA, Dick AD, Robinson J, Kalia N, Walker LSK, Buckley CD, Nash GB, Narendran P, Rainger GE.

Nat Med. 2015 May;21(5):467-475. doi: 10.1038/nm.3842. Epub 2015 Apr 20.

Proresolving lipid mediators and mechanisms in the resolution of acute inflammation.

Buckley CD, Gilroy DW, Serhan CN.

Immunity. 2014 Mar 20;40(3):315-27. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2014.02.009. Review.

Tumour necrosis factor inhibition versus rituximab for patients with rheumatoid arthritis who require biological treatment (ORBIT): an open-label, randomised controlled, non-inferiority, trial.

Porter D, van Melckebeke J, Dale J, Messow CM, McConnachie A, Walker A, Munro R, McLaren J, McRorie E, Packham J, Buckley CD, Harvie J, Taylor P, Choy E, Pitzalis C, McInnes IB.

Lancet. 2016 Jul 16;388(10041):239-47. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)00380-9. Epub 2016 May 17.

IL-23 induces spondyloarthropathy by acting on ROR-γt+ CD3+CD4-CD8- entheseal resident T cells.

Sherlock JP, Joyce-Shaikh B, Turner SP, Chao CC, Sathe M, Grein J, Gorman DM, Bowman EP, McClanahan TK, Yearley JH, Eberl G, Buckley CD, Kastelein RA, Pierce RH, Laface DM, Cua DJ.

Nat Med. 2012 Jul 1;18(7):1069-76. doi: 10.1038/nm.2817.

Epidermal Notch1 recruits RORγ(+) group 3 innate lymphoid cells to orchestrate normal skin repair.

Li Z, Hodgkinson T, Gothard EJ, Boroumand S, Lamb R, Cummins I, Narang P, Sawtell A, Coles J, Leonov G, Reboldi A, Buckley CD, Cupedo T, Siebel C, Bayat A, Coles MC, Ambler CA.

Nat Commun. 2016 Apr 21;7:11394. doi: 10.1038/ncomms11394.

Inflammation drives thrombosis after Salmonella infection via CLEC-2 on platelets.

Hitchcock JR, Cook CN, Bobat S, Ross EA, Flores-Langarica A, Lowe KL, Khan M, Dominguez-Medina CC, Lax S, Carvalho-Gaspar M, Hubscher S, Rainger GE, Cobbold M, Buckley CD, Mitchell TJ, Mitchell A, Jones ND, Van Rooijen N, Kirchhofer D, Henderson IR, Adams DH, Watson SP, Cunningham AF.

J Clin Invest. 2015 Dec;125(12):4429-46. doi: 10.1172/JCI79070. Epub 2015 Nov 16.

Podoplanin negatively regulates CD4+ effector T cell responses.

Peters A, Burkett PR, Sobel RA, Buckley CD, Watson SP, Bettelli E, Kuchroo VK.

J Clin Invest. 2015 Jan;125(1):129-40. doi: 10.1172/JCI74685. Epub 2014 Nov 21.

View all publications in research portal


Factors involved in the triggering and perpetuation of chronic inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid, reactive and juvenile arthritis; targets for effective future therapy; related systemic connective tissue diseases, particularly lupus.

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