Meet Richard Eastell, Clinical Endocrinology Trust Award winner

Professor of Bone Metabolism at the University of Sheffield, Richard Eastell, is the 2020 winner of the Clinical Endocrinology Trust Award. His research focusses on osteoporosis and improving treatment options for patients and he is also Head of the Academic Unit of Bone Metabolism and Director of the Mellanby Centre for Bone Research. He will be presenting his Award Lecture “Postmenopausal osteoporosis: balancing the risks and benefits” during e-ECE on Monday 5 September at 18:00. Read our interview to find out more about his research and what he will be presenting at the conference.

Can you tell us about your current position and research?

My research mainly involves studying osteoporosis, especially its pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment. I have established a Metabolic Bone Centre for the clinical care of patients and the Mellanby Centre for Bone Research to encourage research into bone disease.

Tell us a little about your career path?

I began my training in endocrinology in Edinburgh at the Western General Hospital with Professor Christopher Edwards, continued it at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow with Dr Richard Himsworth and then completed my training at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota with Dr Larry Riggs. I have been working at the University of Sheffield for the past 30 years. I am most proud of the fellows who have trained with me.

What are you presenting in your Award Lecture at e-ECE 2020?

I have been working on clinical guidelines on the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis that are sponsored by the Endocrine Society in conjunction with ESE. These were published in 2019 with an update in March 2020. I will be pointing to the areas of agreement on good clinical practice and to the more controversial areas.

What do you think about the new, virtual e-ECE 2020?

The online programme for e-ECE looks good and the clear delineation of the Focus Areas will make it easier for delegates to navigate the website.

What do you think are the biggest challenges in your research area?

In osteoporosis therapeutics there are drugs that effectively reduce the risk of vertebral and hip fracture, but do not reduce other fractures. Current therapies also have long-term adverse effects, so we need to better predict these.

Most importantly, the size of our trials has become prohibitive with one of the most recent trials having 16,000 patients studied for 5 years. These are too expensive for further drug development, so we need to find trial designs that are affordable in order to develop new drugs.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your research?

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to my research programme. We are unable to have research volunteers visit the hospital. Until this month, we were unable to use our university laboratories and even now we can only work there for high priority projects.

What do you think will be the next major breakthrough in your field?

Good question; I wish I knew and then I could plan my research around it!

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy the training of young colleagues, seeing them mature and become independent.

Who do you most admire and why?

My mentor at the Mayo Clinic was Dr Larry Riggs. He was able to think clearly about disease mechanisms and wasn't afraid of learning new techniques. He was a master of study design.

Any words of wisdom for aspiring endocrinologists?

Find someone to supervise your work who inspires you.

You can hear Richard Eastell’s Award Lecture, “Postmenopausal osteoporosis: balancing the risks and benefits” on Monday 5 September at 18:00. Find out more about e-ECE 2020 and register today

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