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

Professor in Occupational Rheumatology and Honorary Consultant in Rheumatology, Director, Arthritis Research UK/MRC centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work, Academic Lead for Medicine Year 5

Professor Karen Walker-Bone's photo
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Professor and Honorary Consultant 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. When she returned to Southampton in 2013, the clinic re-located to the Royal South Hants Hospital, Southampton.


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. She has taken over from Professor David Coggon as programme Lead for the Musculoskeletal Health in the Mid-Life course programme and Director of the Arthritis Research UK/MRC Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work ( Her group works to find cost effective ways to reduce the burden of musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace. The Centre is a national Consortium, led from Southampton and with a multi-disciplinary collaboration of colleagues from the Universities of Aberdeen, Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester, Salford, Keele, Bath Spa, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospitals Southampton Foundation Trust and King’s Centre for Military Health. Originally funded 2014-2019, the Centre has recently been renewed for another 5 years 2019-2024.

The Programme complements the Centre with observational and epidemiological studies of musculoskeletal health during working life, preventing harm in the workplace and developing strategies to enable people with MSDs to work.


Human Development and Health

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)
Mr David Culliford, 2017, PhD (university of Southampton)
Dr Amanda Samarawickrama, PhD, 2018 (Brighton & Sussex Medical School)


Ms Lisa Shipway, PhD (University of Southampton)
Ms Elena Zaballa, PhD (University of Southampton)
Ms Lisa Newington, PhD (University of Southampton)
Dr Stephen Duffield, PhD (University of Liverpool)
Mr Martin Stevens, PhD (University of Southampton)

Faculty of Medicine

  • Module Lead for Medicine in the final year
  • Member of the final year team for BM4 and BM5
  • Admissions and MMedSci interviewing
  • Southampton INSPIRE Academic Society Co-Academic Lead
  • Chair, Faculty Health & Safety Committee
National and International responsibilities
  • Karen was appointed to the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council in 2013 and its Research Working Group in 2014. IIAC is a non-departmental public body which advises the Minister for the Department and Work and Pensions about compensation for industrial disease and injury
  • Public health England Expert Advisory Group Member on Ageing and Dementia 2018-
  • National Early Arthritis Audit Project Working group member 2018-
  • Royal College of Physicians Representative on the Faculty of Occupational Medicine Council 2017-
  • External Examiner, University of Bristol MDEMO module year 3, Undergraduate Medicine
  • External Examiner, King’s College MSc Rheumatology, 2013-18
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Book Chapters

  • Walker-Bone, K. (2018). Pain associated with HIV and antiretroviral therapy. In Pain from Unrelated Treatment (pp. 1-18). Wolters Kluwer Health.
  • 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 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 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 University Press.


  • Lead for medicine in the final year
  • All aspects of rheumatology teaching for undergraduate students on BM4 and BM5
Professor Karen Walker-Bone
Tel: +44 (0)23 8077 7624 Email:

Room Number: SGH/MRC /MP95

Telephone:(023) 8077 7624

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