Richard Eastell

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Richard Eastell MD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Ireland), FRCPath, FMedSci (born 12 February 1953) is a British medical doctor and Professor of Bone Metabolism at the University of Sheffield.[1] He was born in Shipley (West Yorkshire) and attended the Salt Grammar School, later graduating from the University of Edinburgh in 1977 with a MB ChB and in 1984 with a MD and achieved prominence as an expert in osteoporosis.

Professional life[edit]

Eastell received a clinical fellowship from the Medical Research Council to study osteoporosis at the University of Edinburgh in 1978. He furthered his clinical research training by working at the Mayo Clinic under the supervision of Dr B L Riggs where he worked for five years. Eastell developed a number of new approaches for studying osteoporosis while at the Mayo Clinic including the use of stable (non-radioactive) isotopes to measure the absorption of calcium from food, the use an infusion technique to measure the production of the active form of vitamin D, the measurement of bone density at the site in the wrist where fractures commonly occur (the ultradistal radius) and a height ratio approach to identifying vertebral fractures on radiographs of the spine. He began his training in endocrinology and diabetes at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh in 1980 and continued it at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow in 1982 and at the Mayo Clinic in 1987.[2]

He joined the Department of Human Metabolism and Clinical Biochemistry at the University of Sheffield in 1989 as a Senior Research Fellow and Honorary Consultant. He set up a metabolic bone service at the Northern General Hospital.[3] He became Professor of Bone Metabolism in 1995 and he received funding from the Arthritis Research Campaign to use biochemical tests of bone turnover to better understand the way in which older men and women develop osteoporosis and propensity to fracture. His studies on the cause, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of osteoporosis have been conducted with the support of many colleagues; he has supervised the study for higher degree of 36 scientists and doctors over the past 20 years.[2]

Eastell has been president of the Bone Research Society[4] and chairman of the board of trustees of the National Osteoporosis Society[5] in the UK, and by his presidency of the European Calcified Tissue Society.[6] He has published over 320 articles on metabolic bone diseases.[7]

Eastell is currently director of the National Institute for Health Research’s Bone Biomedical Research Unit, based at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield.[8] He became a NIHR Senior Investigator in 2009.[9] Some of his recent contributions have been authorship on key commercially sponsored papers describing new treatments for osteoporosis, such tibolone,[10] zoledronic acid,[11] denosumab[12] and lasofoxifene[13] as well as addressing key issues about safety of medications[14] and provide guidelines to diagnose primary hyperparathyroidism, a common disorder resulting in high levels of blood calcium.[15]


Eastell was the subject of a 2005 report in the Times Higher Education concerning allegations that he had incorrectly claimed to have had full access to data for a trial of the Procter & Gamble drug Actonel (used to treat osteoporosis). The report established that the analysis for the trial had been carried out by Procter & Gamble and that Eastell did not in fact have complete access to the data. Eastell wrote a letter in 2007 to the editors of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, where the paper in question was published in 2003,[16] accepting that he had not disclosed limitations on data access as required by the journal and acknowledging certain errors in the paper.[17] At a General Medical Council "fitness to practice" hearing in November 2009, it was determined that Eastell's actions had not been "deliberately misleading or dishonest", although he may have been negligent in making "untrue" and "misleading" declarations; the council did not make a finding of misconduct.[18]

The THE's report on Eastell was in part the result of whistleblowing by another Sheffield academic, Aubrey Blumsohn, who was initially suspended by the university and subsequently left the university with a "six-figure" payout.[19][20] Other bone medicine academics, speaking on BBC Radio 4's programme "You and Yours", took the view that the paper in question had overstated the effectiveness of the drug.[21]

Aubrey Blumsohn's well-documented account of the controversy can be found at [22]

Eastell resigned as director of research at Sheffield National Health Service Trust in 2006 after allegations of "financial irregularities" related to charging the NHS for laboratory tests in connection with his university research. His resignation followed suspension by the NHS when the allegations were made in May 2005.[23][24] The NHS trust did not produce an investigation report, stating that this was pre-empted by Eastell's resignation.

In 2010 Eastell was involved in a further dispute with a colleague over a clinical trial and the right of that colleague to present commercially sensitive data.[25]

Awards and honours[edit]

  • Young Investigator Award, American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, 1988
  • Randall G. Sprague Award for outstanding achievement as a subspecialty trainee in Endocrinology, Mayo Clinic, 1989
  • Hospital Doctor of the Year (Osteoporosis Category), 1997
  • Corrigan Lecturer, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, 1998[26]
  • Kroc Visiting Professor in Endocrinology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA, 1999
  • Member of MRC’s Physiological Medicine and Infections Board, 2002 to 2006
  • Visiting Professor in Endocrinology, University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA, 2002
  • Queen’s Anniversary Award team from the University of Sheffield, 2003
  • Kohn Award, National Osteoporosis Society, 2004[27]
  • Society for Endocrinology Medal, 2004[27]
  • PathWest Visiting Lecturer, Perth, Australia, 2005
  • Who’s Who, 2007
  • NIHR Senior Investigator Award 2009


  1. ^ Academic Unit of Bone Metabolism
  2. ^ a b University of Sheffield staff page for Eastell
  3. ^ Metabolic Bone Centre
  4. ^ Bone Research Society Speaker Biographies
  5. ^ National Osteoporosis Society AGM Minutes, 2009
  6. ^ European Calcified Tissue Society Directors
  7. ^ PubMed search for Eastell R
  8. ^ The Bone Biomedical Research Unit in Sheffield
  9. ^ National Institute of Health Research, list of Senior Investigators
  10. ^ Cummings SR, et al. The effects of tibolone in older postmenopausal women. N Engl J Med. 2008 Aug 14;359(7):697-708.
  11. ^ Black DM, et al. Once-yearly zoledronic acid for treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. N Engl J Med. 2007 May 3;356(18):1809-22.
  12. ^ Cummings SR, et al. Denosumab for prevention of fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. N Engl J Med. 2009 Aug 20;361(8):756-65
  13. ^ Cummings SR, et al. Lasofoxifene in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. N Engl J Med. 2010 Feb 25;362(8):686-96.
  14. ^ Black DM, et al. Bisphosphonates and Fractures of the Subtrochanteric or Diaphyseal Femur. N Engl J Med. 2010 Mar 24
  15. ^ Eastell R, et al. Diagnosis of asymptomatic primary hyperparathyroidism: proceedings of the third international workshop. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Feb;94(2):340-50.
  16. ^ Eastell et al. (2003), "Relationship of Early Changes in Bone Resorption to the Reduction in Fracture Risk With Risedronate", Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 18:1051–1056
  17. ^ Phil Baty, "Bone professor faces GMC probe", Times Higher Education, 22 September 2009
  18. ^ Phil Baty, "Academic made ‘untrue’ declaration about ‘full access’ to research material, GMC finds", Times Higher Education, 10 November 2009
  19. ^ Phil Baty, "Payout in P&G drug data row", Times Higher Education, 7 April 2006
  20. ^ Jennifer Washburn, "Rent-a-Researcher: Did a British university sell out to Procter & Gamble?", Slate, 22 December 2005
  21. ^ "Experts cast doubt over scientists' claims for Actonel", Times Higher Education, 24 February 2006
  22. ^ "Scientific Misconduct Blog",
  23. ^ Phil Baty, "Drugs trial row scientist resigns", Times Higher Education, 6 January 2006
  24. ^ Jo Revill, "Doctor in drug research row quits NHS post", The Guardian, 15 January 2006
  25. ^ Zoe Corbyn, "Contractual ties trip up radiologist", Times Higher Education, 18 February 2010
  26. ^ Endocrine Society
  27. ^ a b "Sheffield University pioneers osteoporosis research",, 31 March 2004

External links[edit]