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I developed my academic career in Amsterdam (VU University medical centre), leading a research programme on the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders and other physical symptoms in primary care. In 2006 I took up a joint appointment in Amsterdam and Keele, with the aim to build on my international experience and develop an international programme of research across the two Centres. I gradually took up more responsibilities in Keele’s Arthritis Research UK National Primary Care Centre, being involved in both the epidemiology and trials programmes. Since October 2009 I am fulltime appointed at Keele (chair in primary care epidemiology) and have become part of the Centre’s executive management team.

I have been trained as an epidemiologist, which allowed me to lead studies using a range of methodologies, including systematic reviews, diagnostic and prognostic studies, and (cluster) randomised trials. My research focuses on musculoskeletal conditions, but I have developed a strong interest in other common physical symptoms, such as fatigue, dizziness, headache and abdominal pain. Research questions that I would like to address in (future) studies include describing the ‘phenotypes’ of pain problems (definition and classification of pain in primary care, as pain location or medical diagnosis is not always the optimal approach); research on prognosis and predictors of outcome (do these vary across patients with different types of pain, can we identify a core set of important prognostic factors); research on the influence of prognostic information on management decisions in primary care, and development and evaluation of interventions (such as stratified models of care) that address these prognostic factors and may help to improve patient outcomes or efficiency of health care.