EPI-ILD: Unravelling myeloid epigenetic signatures in Interstitial Lung Disease associated to Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Sclerosis.


The optimisation of diagnostic and stratification tools, as well as a better understanding of disease pathogenesis and standardized therapeutic strategy in interstitial lung diseases (ILD) associated to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic sclerosis (SSc), represent an important translational and clinical unmet need in the field of Rheumatology. This project aims at identifying myeloid epigenetic signatures associated with RA-ILD and SSc-ILD, studying their role on myeloid phenotypes and tissue infiltration in disease, and identification of myeloid biomarkers for early stratification of patients with RA. By addressing this knowledge gap in the field of RA- and SSC-ILD, we believe that this work will facilitate the identification of new therapeutic targets and early biomarkers; which together will facilitate patients’ stratification, clinical trials and clinical management.

Facts and Figures

Project Lead
MD, PhD A Najm
University of Glasgow
FOREUM research grant: € 199.418

Meet the Team

Project Lead

MD, PhD A Najm
University of Glasgow
J Paton
Glasgow Arthritis Involvement Network (GAIN)
S Penman
Glasgow Arthritis Involvement Network (GAIN)


The project aims at:

  • identifying RA- and SSc-ILD monocytes epigenetic signatures and their impact on gene and inflammatory pathways expression using ChIPseq and RNAseq;
  • understanding these signatures' contribution to myeloid cells function and phenotypes across both circulating and tissue compartments using multiome single cell RNAseq and single cell ATACseq analysis associated to in vitro fibroid-myeloid compartments co-culture experiments;
  • confirming identified epigenetic profiles as biomarkers in a cohort of early RA with up to 10 years follow-up and available biosamples.


This project will be divided in 3 work packages addressing the 3 main objectives delivered each year. Results will be shared with the scientific community through presentations at conferences and publication of a manuscript.

Patient Voice

A core group of patients will be involved throughout the entire project as part of a pilot committee along with myself, Prof Carl Goodyear and the technician employed through this grant.

We will have the following aims:

  • focus on promoting patient/public engagement (Dissemination),
  • study deliverables (Management)
  • implementation phase to include engagement with patient board members of patient advocacy groups such as Glasgow Arthritis Involvement Network (GAIN).

Furthermore, we plan to develop Patient-Interactive-Workshops, to host a patient-judged competition where researchers will present their research in lay terminology. Finally, during the project, outputs will be disseminated to patients via social media, newsletters, and lay presentations at patient-oriented conferences (EULAR PARE/National Workshops/Research into Inflammatory Arthritis Centre Versus Arthritis RACE patients events).

Project Map