How does the National Joint Registry's work benefit me? How can I become a part of the NJR's Regional Support network? Who are the working groups the NJR works with? We aim to answer all your questions whether it be in person at a conference, in our Annual Report and weekly reports or here on out website

NJR Research Committee (RC)

Chair’s report 2023 – Professor J Mark Wilkinson

Mark Wilkinson
Professor J Mark Wilkinson
Chair NJR Executive Committee
Professor Mark Wilkinson on the Research Committee

The Research Committee is responsible for delivering the research agenda of the NJR. The committee’s aim is to enhance the understanding of the science of joint replacement, improve clinical practice and benefit public health. Research provides the route to improved treatments and therefore keeping patients at the centre of what we do is a guiding principle for all of our research activity. I am thankful to all members of the committee for their efforts and their hard work which makes it possible to facilitate data access and to support these high-quality research outputs. We have been pleased to welcome Toby Jennison to the committee as a co-opted member representing foot and ankle surgery. Toby takes over from Dave Townshend and I would like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to Dave for his contribution to the committee in this role.

Our business-as-usual activities continue throughout the year, including research application review, the data access portal, and associated publication outputs. Please download the NJR Research Project Portfolio here that catalogues research projects, progress reports and NJR research updates, together with links to all publications related to NJR data – I would like to take this opportunity to report below some of this year’s particular highlights and developments.

Broadening data linkages

We recently made a grant application to Heath Data Research UK to participate in the European Health Data Evidence Network. I am pleased to report that the NJR was awarded £60,000 to map the NJR dataset to the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP) Common Data Model. This initiative will allow the NJR dataset to be linked with over 180 data partners across 29 countries that are also mapping their data to this common model and will also enable the NJR to participate in federated data analysis initiatives across the globe. Closer to home, we are also working on agreements which would enable greater value to be gained out of the NJR dataset through other data-sharing partnerships.

Research fellowship scheme

We have been pleased to welcome Zaid Hamoodi in his appointment as the eleventh Research Fellow to the joint NJR/Royal College of Surgeons of England research fellowship programme. Zaid is investigating predictors of failure in patients with total elbow joint replacement.

The NJR has been working closely this year with Orthopaedic Research UK, the UK’s leading surgically-focussed musculoskeletal research charity, and the Royal College of Surgeons of England to fund the first NJR/ORUK/RCSE Joint Surgical Research Fellowship.

In 2023 the NJR Steering Committee also approved funding for the development of a non-clinical Researcher PhD Fellowship. This award recognises the wealth of expertise within our speciality that lies with non-clinical scientists, without whom orthopaedics would only have seen a fraction of its development over the decades. This award is aimed at non-clinical scientists who wish to study towards a PhD on any topic within the field of joint replacement, as long as the project has at its core use of the NJR dataset to address the research question of interest. The call for applications to this scheme was launched at the 2023 BOA annual congress.

Prospective fellows are encouraged to apply to the rolling programme and can look out for current funding opportunities on the NJR website.

NJR annual research programme

Building on many high-quality publications over the years, we continue to develop our annual research programme. Current projects include: inequalities in provision and outcomes; development of a joint replacement morbidity index; examining factors associated with revision and its outcomes, and an examination of the data quality of the national PROMs programme. As projects complete, new topics are brought on-stream. All projects are delivered as a collaboration between the NJR Research Committee and our statistical analysis partners.

Artificial intelligence research

The NJR recognises the strengths, and limitations, that artificial intelligence (AI) brings to our field of study. Over the last four years the NJR has supported a PhD studentship in the field of machine-learning to address the limitations of current AI models in predicting implant and patient survival. We congratulate Fabio deMello, of the University of Sheffield, on his ground-breaking work in developing a new neural network-based framework for survival analysis that addresses these limitations, and also on the recent award of his PhD. The NJR continues supporting this programme of artificial intelligence research to include patient-reported outcomes prediction, and the fields of federated-learning and transfer-learning.

Submitting a research application

The Research Committee takes formal responsibility for the approval for the release of NJR data for research, under strict conditions, through an impartial and objective process and has oversight of the use and reporting of this data by research groups. The priority is to ensure that any research proposal questions justify access to the data and offer potential benefits to patients. Research proposals should align to our priority framework and be feasible, ethical, relevant, and methodologically sound.

We have a commitment to uphold the standard and consistency of work that is carried out using registry data, in line with both national and international legislation. Therefore, all requests must also be approved by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) Data Access Request Group for final authorisation of data release.

Further information

For those who would like to submit a research application, the first step in this process is to check whether the same topic is currently being examined by another research team by visiting the NJR Research Project Portfolio, if not, then submit an expression of interest for consideration via Invited full applications are then reviewed by the committee quarterly. Full details of the NJR’s research application pathway can be found here and please refer to the recording of our research webinar for full guidance. 

A full list of publications related to research that has used NJR data can be found here: Appendix 4.

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