Helena Marzo-Ortega

Rheumatologist, Leeds

Executive Committee

Dr Helena Marzo Ortega

Helena Marzo-Ortega (LMS MRCP PhD), is a Consultant Rheumatologist for the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and an Honorary Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Leeds. She is the Clinical Lead of the multi-award winning Leeds Spondyloarthropathy service at the Section of Musculoskeletal (MSK) Disease.

Her academic activity is largely focused on translational research where her main areas of interest are early arthritis and spondyloarthritis including psoriatic arthritis, with a special focus on the role of imaging biomarkers and biologic therapies.

Dr Marzo-Ortega has published extensively in high-impact journals and has written multiple chapters in text books. She currently combines her clinical activity with an active membership of different working groups within EULAR and OMERACT. Helena is a member of the Executive Committee of ASAS; a member of the Heberden Committee of the British Society for Rheumatology and sits on the Medical Advisory Board of the UK National Ankylosing Spondylitis patient Society (NASS) and the Spondylitis Association of America (SAA). She is also member of the steering committee of the Leeds Female Leaders Network, which aims to bring and support women into academia. Helena has been part of the Scientific Committee of the International Spondylarthritides Congress since 2008 and was co-President of the 11thInternational Congress in Gent in 2018.

Karl Gaffney

Rheumatologist, Norfolk & Norwich

Executive Committee

Kark Gaffney

Karl Gaffney (MB, BCh, BAO Hons, FRCPI, FRCP) has been a Consultant Rheumatologist in Norwich since 1995 where he has established a large multisciplinary service for over 1000 patients with axial SpA (including AS).He has also been Clinical Director for Rheumatology services since 2009. He is chairman of the British Society for Rheumatology axial SpA Biologics Guidelines Committee, medical advisor and trustee of the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS), and a founder member and treasurer of BRITSpA. He has also represented the BSR and NASS at the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) appraisals of anti-TNF therapies since 2007.

He has co-developed primary and secondary care educational programmes for healthcare professionals working in the field of axial SpA. These include Back Pain Seminars, Meeting in a Box and Back in Focus. These initiatives have been awarded national and European awards for excellence in healthcare communication during 2014. His current research interests include epidemiology, prevalence, diagnostic delay and dose modification of biologics. He is the author of over 50 original papers and has been an invited speaker at national and international meetings.

Alex Bennett

Rheumatologist, Stanford Hall

Executive Committee


Alexander Bennett is a Consultant Rheumatologist at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, Headley Court and Honorary Consultant at Guys and St Thomas’ Teaching Hospitals and Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Leeds.

His main area of clinical rheumatology and research interest is spondyloarthritis. His PhD was in diagnostic and prognostic imaging in spondyloarthritis and he has published and lectured at national and international conferences in this area. He is a member of International Society of Assessment in Ankylosing Spondylitis (ASAS) and is part of the ASAS MRI working Group.

Gareth Jones

Epidemiologist, Aberdeen

Executive Committee Member



Gareth Jones (PhD) trained in epidemiology at the University of Manchester where he gained his PhD for research examining the aetiology of low back pain in schoolchildren.  Following this, he was appointed as a Lecturer in Rheumatic Disease Epidemiology in Manchester and worked on a number of studies examining the aetiology and outcome of musculoskeletal pain disorders.  He moved to Aberdeen in 2005 where he is currently Professor in Epidemiology  and Deputy Head of the Epidemiology Group (


Gareth’s research interests centre on the aetiology, outcome, and management of arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions, with a major focus on musculoskeletal pain, fibromyalgia, axial spondyloarthritis and psoriatic arthritis.


He is one of the lead investigators of SIRAS (the Scotland Registry for Ankylosing Spondylitis) and the BSRBR-AS (the British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register in Ankylosing Spondylitis).  He is also chief investigator of DyNAMISM , a large UK-wide study of the role of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and MRI in spondyloarthritis.


He was elected on to the BRITSpA Executive Committee in 2017, is a full member of the Assessment of Spondyloarthritis International Society (ASAS), and was part of the British Society for Rheumatology guidelines groups for the treatment of axial spondyloarthritis with biologics, and treatment of psoriatic arthritis with biologic and targeted synthetic DMARDs

Aisling Coy

Rheumatologist, Salisbury

Executive Committee Member


Aisling Coy has been a Consultant Rheumatologist in Salisbury since 2006, and has always had a specialist interest in diagnosing and managing individuals presenting with axSpA. Prior to starting her specialist training, she worked at DSMRC Headley Court, the Military Rehabilitation Centre, where she met many servicemen and women with this diagnosis, and she developed her expertise further during her SpR training in Bath. She leads the axSpA service in Salisbury and works closely with other colleagues in the region via SCAN (South Coast axial Spondyloarthritis Network), a collaborative group to improve outcomes for this patient population. She has an extensive background in Sports and Exercise Medicine, and is part of the SEM faculty at the University of Bath. She has a personal interest in adopting an active healthy lifestyle, which she shares with patients and colleagues, and is a South West Regional Director for the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine.

Jon Packham


External relations
Executive Member


Jon Packham has worked for 20 years as a Consultant Rheumatologist at the Haywood Hospital, Stoke on Trent. With a clinical specialist interest in axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA), he leads a large truly multidisciplinary specialised spondyloarthiritis (SpA) clinic.

He is a clinical academic rheumatologist and an honorary associate clinical professor at the Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham, supervising PhD and Masters students. His research includes: identifying and reducing the delay to diagnosis in axSpA, measuring axSpA quality of life, measuring and treating fatigue in axSpA and community studies of axSpA and PsA.

He has been a clinical expert member on a number of  NICE committees for spondyloarthropathy clinical guidelines / quality standards and SpA related technology appraisals. He has worked closely with the National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society, presenting data on pathways influencing delayed diagnosis to a recent All-Party Parliamentary Group on axSpA.

Christopher Martey

Physiotherapist, Bath & NE Somerset

Executive Committee Member


Chris Martey (MSc, MCSP) is an Extended Scope Physiotherapist and injection therapist working as a Musculoskeletal First Contact Practitioner in primary care. Chris currently works within GP surgeries and community hospitals across Bath and North East Somerset and has a specialist interest in Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases.
Chris completed a Sport and Exercise Science BSc (Hons) degree at Leeds Beckett University before undertaking his Masters Physiotherapy degree at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. He spent part of his early career working at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Bath, and worked within Bath’s specialist medical and allied health professional team on their prestigious 2-week Ankylosing Spondylitis Residential Programme, leading Physiotherapy sessions for people with Spondyloarthritis.
Chris remains involved in Rheumatology research and is part of a Physiotherapy in axSpA (PaxSpA) research group based in Bath, alongside Consultant Rheumatologist Dr Raj Sengupta. His early academic activity is focused on physical activity and exercise interventions within SpA and SpA subtypes.
Chris has close links with the UK National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society (NASS) and the Bath Institute for Rheumatic Diseases (BIRD) and has spoken at patient and public engagement events for both charities. Chris is on the Board of Trustees for the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA)

Matthew Virden

Physiotherapist, London

Executive Committee Member

Matthew Virden (BSc, MSc, MCSP, MACPSE) is a specialist musculoskeletal physiotherapist and 
Leading Rehabilitation Clinician – Pure Sports Medicine Rheumatology Service, working closely alongside Medical Director and Consultant Rheumatologist Dr John Etherington.Matthew has established a specialist Rheumatology rehabilitation service within Pure Sports Medicine, delivering individualised rehabilitation for patients with Rheumatology conditions, mainly Spondyloarthritis. He is leading the multidisciplinary team of clinicians delivering the service, supported by his Clinical Manager and the Medical Director of Pure Sports Medicine.

S Steve Zhao

Rheumatology Trainee, Liverpool

Junior Member
Executive Committee


Sizheng Steven Zhao (MBChB MRCP) is a clinical research trainee at Liverpool University Hospitals. His research interests are focused on spondyloarthritis and epidemiologic methodology. His doctoral thesis examines the role of comorbidities and smoking in axial spondyloarthritis, working closely with Aberdeen and Harvard universities. He sits on the Medical Advisory Board of the National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society (NASS), the editorial board and media committee of the journal Rheumatology, and is an associate member of ASAS.

Andrew Keat

Rheumatologist, Northwick Park Hospital (retired)

Executive Committee

Andrew Keat

Andrew Keat (MD, FRCP) is a Consultant Rheumatologist at Northwick Park Hospital in London. After undertaking research on infectious mechanisms in aseptic arthritis at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology and the Clinical Research Centre in London, he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Clinical Rheumatology at the Westminster Medical School and subsequently Reader in Clinical Rheumatology at the merged Charing Cross and Westminster medical School.

He moved to his present post in 1995. As Clinical Director of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Rehabilitation he established a new unit at Northwick Park hospital which won the Hospital Doctor Rheumatology Department of the Year award in 2004.

Andrew Keat is a Trustee of the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS) and was formerly chairman of the British Society for Rheumatology’s (BSR) group responsible for producing guidelines concerning the use of tumour necrosis factor blockade therapy in Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). He has published widely on infective mechanisms in inflammatory arthritis and on clinical aspects of spondyloarthritidies. In addition to lecturing widely, Andrew Keat has received the Michael Mason medal (1987 BSR), the Lettsomian medal (1990 Medical Society of London) and the NASS-Frink award (2005 NASS). He was the BSR’s Heberden Roundsman in 2008.

Stefan Siebert

Rheumatologist, Glasgow

Honorary Executive Committee Member

Stefan Siebert

Stefan Siebert (PhD) is a Professor at the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation at the University of Glasgow. He also works as Honorary Consultant Rheumatologist in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. He qualified at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He trained as rheumatologist and obtained his PhD (TNF Receptor signalling) in Cardiff University. He worked for 6 years as Senior Lecturer in Rheumatology at Swansea University, before moving to Glasgow in September 2012.

Dr Siebert leads the Spondyloarthritis and Psoriatic Arthritis clinical research programme in Glasgow and is also involved in studies investigating underlying disease mechanisms and new therapies in RA. He has been lead investigator on a number of commercial and non-commercial clinical trials, including an MRC-funded AS cohort study. He is the current chair of the Arthritis Research UK Progress Review Committee, and member of the Arthritis Research UK Spondyloarthropathy Clinical Specialty Group and the BSR axial Spondyloarthritis Biologics guideline groups. He is on the Executive Steering committees of both BRIT-SpA and BRIT-PACT (British SpA and PsA societies, respectively).  His clinical work includes specialist AS, PsA and tertiary referral academic clinics. Teaching roles include local lead for the Rheumatology component of Musculoskeletal Clinical Teaching and the immunology component of the intercalated BSc (MedSci) for undergraduate medical students.

Karly Graham

University of East Anglia/NNUH



Karly joined BRITSpA in early 2015.  She has been involved in Rheumatology research since 2008, based at the University of East Anglia and Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, working as administrator on various research studies and undertaking qualitative research in RA, vasculitis and spondyloarthritis.

The BRITSpA Executive Committee (2017-2019)
Gareth Jones, Raj Sengupta, Helena Marzo-Ortega, Karl Gaffney, Jane Martindale,
Alexander Bennett and Stefan Siebert




 The Inaugural BRITSpA Executive Committee (2013-2017).

 Karl Gaffney, Helena Marzo-Ortega, Andrew Keat,
Raj Sengupta, Alexander Bennett and Stefan Siebert
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