Dr Stephanie Harrison

by | 7 Sep 2023 | Academy fellows | 0 comments

Dr Stephanie HarrisonOverview

Cohort: 6
PhD Start date: August 2022

University of Leeds Medical School (2011-17):

  • Versus Arthritis Vacation Scholarship (2013). Project: Using chemokine/lymphocyte subsets to predict methotrexate response in rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Wolfson Intercalated Degree Scholarship (2014-15). Project: miR-149a and miR-155 expression and hyperresponsiveness to LPS in derma fibroblasts from patients with TNR-receptor associated periodic syndrome (TRAPS)
  • George Drexler Foundation Scholarship (2016). Project: Exploring the role of interferon gene signatures in predicting anti-TNF response in ankylosing spondylitis

Rheumatology Academic Foundation Programme, West Midlands (2017-19):

  • Project: Exploring the role of vitamin D in early Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatology Academic Clinical Fellowship, Leeds (2019-22):

  • Project: Chest pain mimicking PE is associated with CTPA signs of in-situ thrombosis from COVID-19
  • Project: Impact of COVID-19 on rheumatology patients in Europe (RHEUMAVID)
  • Project: Ixekizumab: an IL-17 inhibitor for axial spondyloarthritis

Out-of-programme clinical PhD research post (2022-present):

  • 4Ward North Clinical PhD Fellowship award
  • British Society of Rheumatology (BSR) Research Grant

PhD title

Exploring the role of polygenic risk scores (PRS) for predicting diagnosis, prognosis and treatment response in spondyloarthritis (PreDiCT SpA). 

Summary of PhD project

SpAs are a group of clinically and genetically related diseases characterised by axial and peripheral arthritis with/without the involvement of other organs. Early, accurate diagnosis prevents pain, disability and unemployment, and because different subtypes of SpA are treated differently it is important to get the right diagnosis first time.

Currently, there are no clinically useful biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis and treatment response. For my PhD I will undertake the first comparative genomics analysis of all the major subtypes of SpA, before using this data will be used to develop PRS for diagnosis, prognosis and treatment response.


  • Professor Ann Morgan (University of Leeds)
  • Dr Helena Marzo-Ortega (University of Leeds)
  • Dr Mark Iles (University of Leeds)
  • Professor Anne Barton (The University of Manchester)


  • Dr Sara Marsal (Rheumatology Consultant, Barcelona)
  • Dr Michelenas Xabier (Rheumatology Registrar, Barcelona)
  • Professor Matthew Brown (Director of Genomics England)
  • Professor Gary Macfarlane (University of Aberdeen)
  • Professor Gareth Jones (University of Aberdeen)
  • BSRBR-AS registry
  • Dr Steven Zhao (Clinical Lecturer in Rheumatology, The University of Manchester)

Special interest/techniques

  • Genetic epidemiology and polygenic risk scores
  • Bioinformatics
  • R/High-Performance Computing skills
  • Audit/quality improvement
  • Laboratory skills: ELISA, immunofluorescence, multiplex cytokine assays, tissue culture, RT-qPCR and flow cytometry.

Career aspirations

I hope to apply for a clinical lecturer position when I complete my PhD and continue on the clinical academic training pathway, eventually becoming an academic consultant rheumatologist.