The University of Southampton

Dr Karen Walker-Bone BM, FRCP, PhD, Hon FFOM

Associate Professor in Occupational Rheumatology, Academic Lead for Medicine Year 5

Dr Karen Walker-Bone's photo
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Associate Professor in Occupational Rheumatology

Karen graduated from Southampton University Medical School in 1991. She trained in rheumatology in the Wessex region and became an accredited Consultant in 2002. Karen took time out of her clinical training between 1999-2002 when she was awarded an Arthritis Research UK Clinical Research Fellowship to study the epidemiology of neck and upper limb disorders among working-aged adults at the MRC Epidemiology Unit under the supervision of Prof Cyrus Cooper and Prof David Coggon. Karen completed her PhD in 2002. Her work received national attention with two Young Investigator Awards, one from the British Society of Rheumatology and one from the National Osteoporosis Society. Together with Prof Keith Palmer, Karen was also a recipient of an international award from the US National Institute for farm safety research in 2004.

Between 2003-13, Karen worked at the Brighton & Sussex Medical School, starting a month before their first ever cohort of medical students. Her role involved clinical rheumatology and curriculum and phase development, validation and leadership. Karen developed and led the fourth year project module (which received commendation from the GMC) from its inception in 2007 until she left in 2013. Whilst in Brighton, Karen developed a specialist rheumatology clinic for HIV-infected patients to assess and manage the joint and bone manifestations of the chronic infection. In total, she saw more than 400 referrals and this clinic sparked a number of epidemiological studies, which showed for example, the risk factors for gout and elective hip surgery among HIV-infected patients. Together with the HIV Consultants in Brighton, a cohort of 400 HIV-infected men was incepted into a longitudinal study of bone health.


Bachelor of Medicine, University of Southampton, 1991
PhD Medicine, University of Southampton, 2002
Certificate of Completion of Speciality Training in Rheumatology, 2002
Fellow Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Physicians of London, 2004
Honorary Fellow, Faculty of Occupational Medicine, 2013






Research interests

In 2013, Karen returned to Southampton to the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit. The principal focus of this role will be working with Professors Cooper, Coggon and Palmer in the ‘Work and health’ programme. There has been a strong focus on musculoskeletal disease in relation to work within this programme (hip osteoarthritis in farmers; back pain in nurses; upper limb disorders; carpal tunnel syndrome) and Karen has been appointed to strengthen this focus. Having developed an international track record in observational epidemiological studies around detection of hazards to health in the workplace, the evolving programme recognises that work can also be good for health and that people with musculoskeletal disease potentially have barriers preventing them from full participation in work. The explicit intention is to move from observational studies in this area into the development of intervention trials and translation of the epidemiology into demonstrable reductions in workplace disability. Karen will also work with and provide stronger integration between this programme and that of Prof Cooper, Prof Dennison and Dr Harvey in the ‘Bone and Joint’ programme.

Studies are proposed in back pain, osteoarthritis, knee injury and carpal tunnel syndrome and Karen will join Prof Palmer’s Health and Ageing at Fifty (HEAF) study of the older worker. Karen has previously studied people’s experience of pain in a variety of populations, including the HIV infected population, and plans to extend this work into children and adolescents.

Academic unit(s)

Human Development and Health Academic Units

Postgraduate student supervision

Dr Claire Crabtree, 2006, MSc (King’s College London)
Dr Sarah Medley, 2006, MSc (King’s College London)
Dr Helena Robinson, 2008, MSc (King’s College London)
John Keegan, 2008, PhD (Brighton & Sussex Medical School)
Karen Denyer, 2008, MPhil (University of Brighton)
Dr Kaushik Sanyal, 2012, MSc (King’s College London)


Amanda Samarawickrama, PhD (Brighton & Sussex Medical School)

Faculty Of Medicine
  • Academic Lead for Medicine in the final year
  • Member of the final year team for BM4 and BM5.
  • Admissions interviewing.
National and International responsibilities
  • Karen is the academic representative on the JRCPTB Specialty Advisory Committee for Rheumatology. 
  • Member of the British Society of Rheumatology’s Heberden Committee, which plans the annual conference. 
  • Member of the Arthritis Research UK Progress Review Committee, which scrutinizes the progress and value for money of all clinical trials grants awarded by AR-UK. 
  • Member of the AR-UK pain Clinical Studies Group which assists the charity by prioritising research questions in this clinical area. 
  • Karen was appointed to the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council in 2013. This body advises the Minister for the Department and Work and Pensions about compensation for industrial disease and injury.


Book Chapters

  • Ryder, S., & Walker-Bone, K. (2013). Rheumatological disorders. In K. T. Palmer, I. Brown, & J. Hobson (Eds.), Fitness for Work the Medical Aspects (pp. 268-289). Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
  • Walker-Bone, K. (2013). The elbow. In R. A. Watts, P. Conaghan, C. Denton, H. Foster, J. Isaacs, & U. Müller-Ladner (Eds.), The Oxford Textbook of Rheumatology (4th edition) (pp. 1306-1313). Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
  • Walker-Bone, K. (2013). The hand and wrist. In R. A. Watts, P. Conaghan, C. Denton, H. Foster, J. Isaacs, & U. Müller-Ladner (Eds.), The Oxford Textbook of Rheumatology (4th edition) (pp. 1314-1323). Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
  • Lead for medicine in the final year
  • All aspects of rheumatology teaching for undergraduate students on BM4 and BM5
Dr Karen Walker-Bone
Tel: +44 (0)23 8077 7624 Email:

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