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Professor Catherine Bowen PhD, MSc, FFPM RCPS(Glasg)

Professor in Podiatry

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Professor Catherine Bowen leads the Foot and Ankle Research programme. She joined the University of Southampton in 2003 as a podiatrist with a specific education and research focus related to investigation and management of inflammatory and non-inflammatory arthritic manifestations within the foot and ankle.

For patients with arthritis, changing the way current foot care is provided will benefit their long term social health and well-being. Alongside this is continued support for increasing clinical academic capacity in musculoskeletal practice through an on-going programme of internships and fellowships

Catherine qualified as a podiatrist in the UK in 1987 and completed her PhD on the developments of musculoskeletal ultrasound imaging techniques applied to the foot and ankle in 2009. Catherine currently holds a UK National Institute for Health Research Fellowship award investigating optimal models of foot care for individuals who have osteoarthritis (OA). As Professor in Podiatry at the University of Southampton and Honorary Lecturer at the University of Oxford, Catherine leads a multi-professional research partnership with a core focus on musculoskeletal foot and ankle pathology, in particular as PI for the long-standing Chingford 1000 Women cohort foot OA programme.

She has extensive experience in leading strategic multiprofessional groups in this field being current Editor in Chief for the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research; Co-convener for the British Society for Rheumatology Foot and Ankle interest group; outgoing Chair of the UK College of Podiatry Research and Development committee and Fellow of the Royal Society for Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow.

Throughout her career, Catherine has championed the growth of new promising graduate clinicians to develop podiatry and allied health research capacity and clinical academic careers through leadership of various internship schemes and NIHR MRes, PhD and post-doctoral awards.

Catherine is also a champion for the advancement of women’s careers in science through the Athena SWAN (women’s science academic network) charter. In 2014 in recognition of her work, she received a prestigious meritorious award from the UK College of Podiatry and became the first podiatrist to receive a Chartered Scientist Award.

Advisory Group Memberships

Editor in Chief, The Journal of Foot and Ankle Research (2018-ongoing).

Chair of the College of Podiatry UK Research and Development Committee (2014-present).

Chair of the College of Podiatry UK Professoriate (2015-present).

Podiatry representative on the UK Council for Allied Health Professions Research UK (CAHPR) strategy committee (2014 – present).

Member of the College of Podiatry Academic Board (2014 – present).

Deputy Editor UK, The Journal of Foot and Ankle Research (2012 – present)

Member of the Executive Board, Faculty of Podiatric Medicine, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (Glasgow) (2012-2014)

Member of the College of Podiatry Chartered Scientists Committee.

Co-convener for the Foot and Ankle specialist interest group of the British Society for Rheumatologists (2012 – present)

Research mentor for the National Institute for Health clinical academic training pathway for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals (2011-present)

Member of the Council for Allied Health Professions Research UK (CAHPR).

Co-hub leader for the CAHPR Southern Central hub (2011- 2015).

Member of the UK Society for Chiropodists and Podiatrists Research & Development Committee (2011 –present)

Member of the UK Allied Health Professions Research Network (AHPRN) and co-hub leader for the Southern Central hub (2011-present)

Reviewer for Arthritis Research UK (2010 –present)

Member of the Dr William M Scholl Podiatric Research and Development Endowment Fund, Scientific Committee (2009 – 2013)

Reviewer for Arthritis Care and Research, Rheumatology, The Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology, Manual Therapy, Prosthetics and Orthotics International, The Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, The Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, Podiatry Now.



SOLLAR: The Southampton-Oxford Lower Limb Arthritis Research Group

Honorary Lecturer Contract with Oxford University for research (January 2010 – to present)

Honorary Clinical Contract with UHS (2003 – to present)

Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis (2012-present).

Arthritis Research UK Pain Centre, University of Nottingham (2011-present).

Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Leeds for research and internships (July 2006 – to present).

School of Health, Sport and Bioscience, University of East London for research (2011 – present).

Singapore General Hospital for student placements (October 2006 – to present)

Presentations and prizes

National Institute for Health Research Fellowship 2015-2019).

Meritorious award of the UK Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists (2014).

Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (RCPS Glasgow) (2012)

Post-graduate research supervision award (2012)

Highly Commended prize in the Achieving Excellence in learning, teaching, development or mentorship category of the DOH 2010 Advancing Healthcare Awards for allied health professionals and health scientists (2010).

Research interests

Catherine welcomes any interested parties to contact and discuss the foot and ankle research programme at the University of Southampton. Her research team of investigators include undergraduate, post graduate taught, post graduate research students as well as post-doctoral investigators and interns.  Appropriately skilled visiting researchers are often hosted within the team through external collaborators that span both National and International groups.

Catherine’s research has two interlinked pathways: education and development of podiatry and allied health new graduate careers and investigation of musculoskeletal foot and ankle pathology.  The latter has grown from foundation epidemiological research to investigation of large population data, mixed methods research design and development of international clinical protocols.

I am principal investigator in the following:

OptiFOOT: Optimisation of foot care for people living with arthritis. Funder: College of Podiatry UK and the National Institute for Health research (NIHR).

MSKInterns: Arthritis Research UK internship project for allied health and nurse clinicians. Funder: Arthritis Research UK.

ELFOAB: The epidemiology and lifetime risk of osteoarthritis within the foot and biomechanical functional outcomes.
 Funder: Dr W.M.Scholl Podiatric Research & Development fund.

SPIDERSOLE: Optimal insole design for people who have foot arthritis.

I am co-investigator in the following:

CSEOA:  Keeping individuals physically active for longer by understanding arthritis in the feet and modifying footwear and in-shoe devices. Funder: Arthritis Research UK.

SHOES: People with Stroke and Parkinsons: Home and Outdoor shoES. Funder: RfPB NIHR.

I am supervising PhD students in the following;

Time to return to play:  Investigation of time to return to play following ankle injuries in sports. Student: Saed Al-Bimani. Funder: Oman Government scholarship.

RTCGAT: Validation of a real time clinical gait assessment tool. Student: Paul Harradine: Funder: The Podiatry Centre, Portsmouth.

Neuropathy Detect: Validation of novel neurovascular devices (DPN-Check and Medicap) to detect diabetic neurovascular changes earlier that current clinical devices. Student: Simbarashe Tanyanyiwa. Funder: NIHR Wessex HEE Clinical Academic Fellowship.

Podiatry access and foot care: Investigation of stakeholder views and experiences of access to podiatry and foot care services. Student: Louise McCulloch. Funder: NIHR project

Ultrasound and Charcot foot: Investigation of the use of diagnostic ultrasound to detect early changes in Charcot Foot. Student: Molly Smith. Funder: Solent NHS Trust.

I am supervising external PhD students in the following;

GAFRA: The impact of early adult rheumatoid arthritis on the biomechanical and functional characteristics of the foot and lower limb.
Student: Alexander Izod; University of East London UK.  Funder: Dr W.M.Scholl Podiatric Research & Development fund.

Intermittent Claudication in Malta: A prospective cohort study of patient factors influencing the progression of intermittent claudication. Student: Annabelle Mizzi. Funder: University of Malta.


Research group

Active Living and Rehabilitation

Affiliate research group

Active Living Technologies

Research project(s)

SPIDERSOLE: Optimal insole design for people who have foot arthritis.

The SpidersoleTM project has a primarily focus on further developing a novel insole design for management of foot osteoarthritis through investigation of appropriate materials and methods of printing and construction to a device that is wearable. A second phase of the study is being led by undergraduate BSc (Hons) Podiatry students and involves testing the ‘SpidersoleTM’ to determine its wearabilty and efficacy in terms of structure, performance, density and support during gait in the human performance laboratory and outdoors on different terrain.

OptiFoot: Optimisation of foot care for people living with arthritis.

Supported by a Career Development Fellowship from the National Institute for Health Research and The College of Podiatry UK this project forms a four year multi-phase research design to develop an optimal model of foot care for people living with arthritis.

MSKInterns: Graduate Rheumatology Research Internships for Nurses and Allied Health Professionals.

The aim of this project is about developing a national network of healthcare professional research internships in rheumatology. Funded by the charity Arthritis Research UK the governance of the programme is overseen by Professor Catherine Bowen at the University of Southampton, who is joined by expert colleagues from a network of universities including Leeds, Salford, Oxford and the West of England.

ELFOAB / Epidemiology and lifetime risk of osteoarthritis within the foot and biomechanical functional outcomes

It has been recognized that osteoarthritis (OA) of the foot may have a detrimental effect on patients’ health related quality of life and that foot OA may cause significant morbidity.The specific aims of this research are to develop a detailed understanding of the epidemiology, risk factors and associations of OA occurring within the feet in the general population at middle and older age. An additional aim is to determine lower limb biomechanical factors associated with radiographic foot OA.

Within Catherine’s portfolio research and enterprise activities are inherently interlinked with her education profile through her on-going commitment to academic achievement, leadership and knowledge dissemination of her field. Current responsibilities revolve around her NIHR Fellowship objectives in promoting leadership in research and education for Podiatry within the UK nationally and internationally.

For many years Catherine has been recognized as a key leader in the education of undergraduate and post-graduate podiatrists, enhancing practice. Additional to this this Catherine has led on educational developments for other cohorts of health professionals. Through her appointments, as MRes NIHR pathway leader, and previously as programme leader for BSc Hons podiatry programme and Professional Lead for Podiatry, Catherine has successfully led and managed innovation in educational delivery through module redesigns and revalidations (2004, 2009, 2012).

For the Faculty, Catherine has led applications for an Athena SWAN charter award (April 2013; November 2014) and continues to chair this important committee that has now expanded to encompass the wider Equality and Diversity agenda. Athena SWAN is a highly regarded award that focuses on the promotion of women in science.

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Book Chapter

  • Cherry, L., Gates, L., & Bowen, C. (2019). Clinical assessment. In P. S. Helliwell, M. R. Backhouse, & H. J. Siddle (Eds.), Foot and Ankle in Rheumatology Oxford University Press.



As a Professor in Podiatry Catherine contributes to the delivery of high quality teaching across the faculty of health sciences undergraduate post graduate taught, continuing education and PhD programmes. She is currently supervising 2 MRes students, 8 PhD students and advisor to two external PhD students. Catherine also acts as external examiner and reviewer for other Institutions for undergraduate and post-graduate-taught programmes and has been external examiner for 6 PhDs.

Catherine’s teaching focus is related to investigation and management of inflammatory and non-inflammatory arthritic manifestations within the foot and ankle. She engages in research led teaching through the links she provides students to her clinical experience and research and fully embraces integration of research within education curricula.

“I advocate a ‘deep’ approach to student learning through case based discussions and continued application of theory to practice whilst demonstrating reflexivity with differing learning abilities”.

Professor Catherine Bowen
University of Southampton Health Sciences Building 45 Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number: 67/4069

Professor Catherine Bowen's personal home page
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