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Professor Richard Watts
Rheumatology consultant awarded professorship
31 January 2018

One of our hospital's most experienced and respected consultants revealed an “inherent curiosity” for his field, as he reflected on being awarded an honorary chair at the University of East Anglia.

Consultant rheumatologist, Dr Richard Watts was recently awarded an honorary professorship for his work in the hospital and within the Trust, as well as his academic achievements at UEA.

Having written and edited several text books and lectured to thousands, professor Watts remains as committed as ever to the continuous development of treatment for patients with rheumatoid arthritis, vasculitis and many other types of arthritis, and explained that the long-term care of his patients was his key motivation.

“I have an inherent curiosity of my field and want to try and develop and improve and gain new knowledge,” said Prof. Watts.

“There are still huge gaps in the knowledge base and plenty of scope for research in the rheumatic diseases over the next 20 to 30 years.”

He added: “My key motivation is the continuous long-term follow-up of patients, as it is a chronic disease speciality. I get to see patients over a very long period of time and patient care is the fun part of my job.”

Prof. Watts arrived at our hospital in 1994 and was appointed a clinical senior lecturer at the Norwich Medical School in 2005. He was R&D director at the Trust between 2004 and 2016, and chaired the Norfolk and Suffolk Clinical Research network.

He served as Editor-In-Chief of Rheumatology between 2002 and 2008 and added: “I have been working academically most of my career and I think this award reflects the academic work I have done over many years, both in the hospital and within the Trust and UEA.

“Part of being an academic is lecturing and teaching 10 to between 500 to a thousand people.

“It’s always daunting giving a talk, and more so depending on the size of the audience and topic of the talk.

“But one gets used to it and becomes more practiced and skilled. It’s always easier too when you are talking about your areas of expertise.”

Prof. Watts, whose biggest academic achievement is presenting the Heberden Round to his colleagues at the British Society of Rheumatology in 2014, is keen to continue his academic career.

“Most of the research I have undertaken has been around epidemiology - the occurrence of rare rheumatic diseases, while more recently I have been trying to promote the care of patients with rare rheumatic diseases as they are a relatively neglected group of people,” he said.

“Ninety-five per cent of my role is looking after outpatients though and that reflects a dramatic improvement in the treatment of patients with rheumatoid disease over the last 20 to 30 years.”