Versus Arthritis appoints director of research

Versus Arthritis has appointed Fight for Sight’s director of research, policy and innovation Dr Neha Issar-Brown as its new director of research.

In the role she will help the charity to develop its research strategy, to ensure research is able to directly translate into treatment for people with arthritis.

While at Fight for Sight she oversaw support for research to prevent sight loss and initiated the charity’s first “patient-centred research strategy”.

Issar-Brown will be joining Versus Arthritis in February.

“I am thrilled to be joining Versus Arthritis at this exciting time in the development of its research strategy, she said.

“I am particularly excited about working for an organisation that has such a strong track record in putting people with arthritis at the heart of its work, ensuring that no decision is made without the involvement of those who will be directly impacted.

Ellen Miller, deputy chief executive of Versus Arthritis, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Neha to Versus Arthritis at such a significant time.

“The Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit have put a huge strain on medical research charities, but with Neha’s breadth of experience alongside our incredible partners and supporters, we’re in a very good position to build on and continue supporting world leading research that will fundamentally change the lives of people with arthritis.”

Concerns around racism

Versus Arthritis reported itself to the Charity Commission last year amid reports from staff of racism and bullying within the organisation.

The charity admitted that racism “may not have been property addressed in the past and this is not acceptable”.

A Versus Arthritis spokeswoman said: "We quickly initiated an internal review following the allegations coming to light, which recommended an external investigation of all open cases of racism and bullying known to the organisation, and a review of our HR processes and practices and case management procedure.

"This external investigation and review is currently taking place. In the last few months we have also appointed a Head of Diversity and Inclusion; all of our leadership team and board have undergone training in anti-racism and inclusive leadership; we’ve created safe spaces for colleagues by encouraging new networks internally; and we have provided support through our employee assistance programme and set up a confidential helpline for colleagues to report any incidents or concerns."

Also last year the charity announced that its chief executive Liam O’Toole is to retire but is still in post until his successor is appointed this year.

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