Jack Thomson Arthritis Fund

The OMRF funds Jack Thomson Bequest grants to support arthritis-focused medical research carried out in Otago. Projects are financed by income from a 2011 bequest to the Foundation by the late William John (Jack) Thomson.

Mr Thomson, a former Dunedin chartered accountant and company secretary, donated a $2 million dollar bequest to the Otago Medical Research Foundation. He suffered from debilitating arthritis in his latter years and often talked about how he would like to help with research into a disease which robbed him of his mobility but certainly not his enthusiasm for life.

The OMRF is delighted to be able to retain his name in perpetuity through his generous bequest which support medical research.

Two grants < $40,000 are awarded annually to research into the cause and treatment of arthritis.

2020 Grants

The impact of peritoneal dialysis on oxypurinol and urate handling in gout patients

Principal investigators Professor Robert Walker, Department of Medicine, and Dr Daniel Wright School of Pharmacy, University of Otago

Gout is common in people with kidney disease who require dialysis to maintain kidney function. Gout can be prevented by reducing uric acid concentrations in the body using medicines such as allopurinol. We do not know how allopurinol is handled in patients who are receiving peritoneal dialysis nor what dose is safe and effective. We will measure the elimination of oxypurinol, the active produce of allopurinol, and uric acid over a 24 hour period in 10 patients receiving peritoneal dialysis. We will use this information to predict the allopurinol dose required to lower uric acid concentrations to prevent gout.

Pain sensitisation and lived pain experiences in people knee osteoarthritis

Principal investigator Dr Ramakrishnan Mani, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago

Knee osteoarthritis is a common health condition which can result in pain and disability. The knee osteoarthritis pain experience is complex and biopsychosocial with studies revealing that pain is less related to structural joint changes and more related to the sensitivity of the nervous system. Lived experiences and symptoms linked to the pain experience can be captured using smartphones as people go about their daily lives. This research aims to capture biopsychosocial lived experiences of those with knee osteoarthritis using smartphones and determine if these are linked with pain sensitivity.

The fibroblast contribution to rheumatoid arthritis

Principal investigator Dr Paul Hessian, Department of Medicine, University of Otago

Pathogenic mechanisms driving extra-articular inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are unknown. Rheumatoid subcutaneous nodules are extra-articular lesions associated with severe RA. Recent investigation of rheumatoid nodule tissues revealed evidence of fibroblasts contributing to inflammation in nodule lesions. In this proposal, we investigate the contribution from a unique “intermediate” fibroblast subtype as we work towards understanding the causes of extra-articular rheumatoid inflammation and the potential for new therapeutic strategies that will benefit patients with extra-articular disease.

Previous Grants