Professor Jill Belch

Professor (Clinical)

Molecular and Clinical Medicine, School of Medicine

Portrait photo of Jill Belch
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Contact

Email

j.j.f.belch@dundee.ac.uk

Phone

+44 (0)1382 383092

Location

Ninewells - Mailbox 2

Biography

Professor Belch graduated as a Doctor from the University of Glasgow (MBChB), becoming a Lecturer within the University Department of Medicine, where she completed her Research MD degree (Honours, winner of Belahouston Gold Medal) in 1987. She was appointed Senior Lecturer with Honorary Consultant status at the University Department of Medicine in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, also in 1987, and became Professor of Vascular Medicine in 1995. She was Director of the Tayside Clinical Trails Centre before becoming the Director of the Tayside Medical Science Centre (TASC) and the Tayside R&D Director. She is a founder Fellow of the Academy of Medical Science, and a Fellow of the Royal Society, Edinburgh.

Clinical Unit Activity - Ninewells Hospital

Professor and Honorary Consultant in Vascular Medicine. I set up the vascular medicine service in Ninewells which is currently run by 2 vascular medicine consultants, cross covering with 2 Stroke Physicians, providing a 1:4 on call service. This has included the development of outpatient facilities for medical assessment for patients with vasospastic, inflammatory and occlusive vascular disease, the development of laboratory tests for the accurate assessment of medical vascular problems, e.g. Raynaud's Phenomenon, (including Connective Tissue Disorders and Hand Arm Vibration disease), thrombophilia, erythromelalgia, the screening of peripheral vascular patients for risk factors and application of appropriate management. Patients are referred by both GPs and consultants locally and from throughout the UK. We are a tertiary referral centre for Systemic Sclerosis. I have also been responsible for the introduction of effective treatments for vascular disease. I provide formal medical advice to the vascular surgery team with whom I have both clinical and research links. I provide adjunctive medical management for the vascular surgery patient, e.g. prostaglandin therapy and have developed the provision of a new service of thrombolysis for acute arterial occlusion. I am also involved in regular audit programmes, e.g. restenosis rate following angioplasty.

Research

I have been involved for some time in research projects investigating vascular and rheumatic diseases and the therapeutic effects of various anti-rheumatic and anti-thrombotic agents. The focus has been on the mechanistic link between inflammation and vascular behaviour. The initial studies into laboratory biomarkers has been followed by medium and large sized clinical trials to validate the hypotheses, or otherwise, generated in the laboratory studies. Circa £1.5m/annum has been gained in grant funding since appointment in 1987.

After my appointment in the Dundee University Department of Medicine (now Division of Medicine & Therapeutics), the priority was to establish the Vascular Disease Research Unit. Funds for equipment were obtained from granting bodies and scientific research staff appointed. In the 20 years in Dundee the staff have, on average, numbers n=25, a mix of basic scientists, clinical academics and technical staff. All staff have been encouraged to contribute ideas and projects and, where suitable, some individuals offered the opportunity for further degrees (see list above). The laboratory staff currently consists of 1 reader, 1 senior scientific officer, 2 postdoctoral fellows, 2 PhD students and 4 technicians. Clinical links are provided by 2 Clinical Lecturers, 3 research fellows (2 undertaking their MD), a Clinical Trial Manager, and 6 research nurses. All staff but 2 are grant funded.

Assay systems have been established to measure inflammatory and vascular biomarkers, coagulation, haemorrheology and fibrinolysis. Areas of special interest have been developed, e.g. the inflammatory element of vascular disease with measures of WBC and free radical activity & the study of vascular endothelium. These techniques, combined with the ability to measure blood flow in both the macro- and microcirculation, have led to my publications in the field of vascular and inflammatory medicine. Roles in Multicentre Clinical Trials appear below, completed projects and single centre Trials appear in the publications list, projects currently underway are presented in the next Section.

A recent activity has been the establishment of the Institute of Cardiovascular Research via the TICR public fund raising appeal. This has raised circa £6.5m for the University, achieved strategic placement for Cardiovascular as one of the College’s research themes, and allowed 3 senior academic posts to be created in this field, and the purchase of a state of the art MRI scanner.

View full research profile and publications

Teaching

Teaching involves both undergraduate and postgraduate students, and covers areas including Peripheral Arterial Disease, Connective Tissue Disease and Governance of Clinical Trials.