Professor Jill Belch

Professor of Vascular Medicine

Head of TICR / Vascular Medicine
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Professor Jill Belch is a Professor of Vascular Medicine, accredited in Rheumatology, Vascular Medicine, and Internal Medicine. She graduated as a Doctor from the University of Glasgow (MB ChB), becoming a Lecturer within the University Department of Medicine, where she completed her Research MD degree (1st class Honours, winner of Belahouston Gold Medal) in 1987. She was appointed Senior Lecturer with Honorary Consultant status at the University Department of Medicine in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, also in 1987, and became Professor of Vascular Medicine in 1995. She was Director of the Tayside Clinical Trials Centre before becoming the Director of the Tayside Medical Science Centre (TASC) and the Tayside R&D Director until December 2015. She was also Co-Director of the Medical Research Institute in the University of Dundee, then Research Dean and co-Dean of the Medical School again until 2015. She is a founder Fellow of the Academy of Medical Science, and a Fellow of the Royal Society, Edinburgh.

Her research interests include vascular medicine, especially peripheral arterial disease, vascular risk, particularly inflammatory aspects, and connective tissue disease with a focus on Systemic Sclerosis. She has a particular interest in Raynaud’s Phenomenon, with many publications in this neglected area. In the course of her Research she has:

  • Completed >30 single centre biomarkers trials
  • Chairman or Member of Trial Steering Committee/CI/site PI of 30  International multicentre clinical trails
  • Received Peer reviewed grant funding amounting to over £25m over 27 years
  • Circa 350 publications in peer reviewed Scientific Journals
  • 106 plenary/invited lectures within the UK, and 143 internationally
  • Supervised 28 PhD, MD, MSc students
  • Held 7 Editorships or Editorial Board memberships
  • Past member of 4 MRC Grant Committees

Impact of Research

One of Professor Belch’s recent papers was selected as a high impact case in the recent Research Excellence Framework assessment within the UK. Her work has been quoted in both National and International Guidelines and has modified treatment world-wide.

She was involved in the first Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh, PAD Guideline (Medical management of peripheral arterial diseases 1998), leading to a second one in 2007 (Management of peripheral arterial disease), she participated in the recent NICE Quality Standard Advisory Committee (QSAC) for Peripheral arterial disease. Through this work she has contributed to the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QoF) process, introducing risk factor screening for PAD as local quality measure for Primary Care in the UK.

Finally, her work in trial design within PAD has allowed Guidelines to be developed in this area, which have been used by both EMEA and FDA in developing regulations for drug registration in PAD (Study design options for clinical trials in PAOD patients; Transatlantic Conference on Clinical Trial Guidelines in PAD, Basel, Switzerland).

A few of Professor Jill Belch’s Publications: 

  1. Belch JFF, MacCuish A, Campbell I, Cobbe S, Taylor R, Prescott R, Lee R, Bancroft J, MacEwan S, Shepherd J, Macfarlane P, Morris A, Jung R, Kelly C, Connacher A, Peden N, Jamieson A, Matthews D, Leese G, McKnight J, O’Brien I, Semple C, Petrie J, Gordon D, Pringle S, MacWalter R: Prevention of Progression of Arterial Disease and Diabetes Study Group, Diabetes Registry Group, Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh. The prevention of progression of arterial disease and diabetes (POPADAD) trial: factorial randomised placebo controlled trial of aspirin and antioxidants in patients with diabetes and asymptomatic peripheral arterial disease. British Medical Journal 2008; 337: 1030-1033 DOI: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2014.04.006 
    • This paper shows that aspirin did not prevent heart attacks and stroke in patients with diabetes who had not yet developed CVD. This stopped many thousands of patients receiving aspirin unnecessarily. Aspirin induced stomach bleeding is one of the most common causes of gut haemorrhage. 
  2. Wiseman SJ, Bastin ME, Hamilton IF, Hunt D, Ritchie SJ, Amft EN, Thomson S, Belch JJF, Ralston SH, Wardlaw JM. Fatigue and cognitive function in systemic lupus erythematosus: associations with white matter microstructural damage. A diffusion tensor MRI study and meta-analysis. Lupus, 2016 DOI: 10.1177/0961203316668417 
    • Patients with connective tissue disease complain strongly about fatigue. The mechanism of this fatigue was unknown. This scanning technique has shown changes in the brain which would explain the fatigue, opening up the way for development of fatigue treatments.
  3. Khan F, Ray S, Craigie AM, Kennedy G, Hill A, Barton KL, Broughton J, Belch JJF. Lowering of oxidative stress improves endothelial function in healthy subjects with habitually low intake of fruit and vegetables: A randomized controlled trial of antioxidant- and polyphenol-rich blackcurrant juice. Free Radical Medicine Biology 2014; 72: 232-237  
    DOI: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2014.04.006 

    • This study shows a clear mechanism whereby fruit and vegetables are good for your heart. Here poor diets were supplemented and the behaviour of the blood vessels improved. Blood vessels are the biggest organ in the body and the most important along with the heart, in maintaining health. 
  4. Rothwell PM, Price JF, Fowkes GR, Zanchetti A, Roncaglioni MC, Tognoni G, Lee R, BelchJJF. Short-term effects of daily aspirin on cancer incidence, mortality, and non-vascular death: analysis of the time course of risks and benefits in 51 randomised controlled trials. The Lancet, 2012;379(9826): 1602-1612. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61720-0 
    • This study showed that regular aspirin, a blood thinning agent, helps to reduce death from cancer. It possibly works by preventing the cancer spreading through the blood stream as clots. 
  5. Baines C, Kumar P, Belch JJF.  Raynaud ’s phenomenon: Connective Tissue Disorders: Systemic Sclerosis. In Rheumatology 6th Edn (Chapter 146). Elsevier Limited. 2013, pp 1213-1218. 
    • This is a book chapter in a book for trainee doctors. It is really important to share knowledge and to train those coming after us. 


1. Belch JJF, Carlizza A, Carpentier PH, Constans J, Khan F, Wautrecht J-C, Visona A, Heiss C, Brodeman M, Pécsvárady Z, Roztocil K, Colgan M-P, Vasic D, Gottsäter A, Amann-Vesti B, Chraim A, Poredoš P, Olinic D-M, Madaric J, Nikol S, Herrick AL, Sprynger M, Klein-Weigel P, Hafner F, Staub D & Zeman Z. ESVM guidelines – the diagnosis and management of Raynaud’s phenomenon. Oct 2017 In VASA 46, 6, pp 413-423 11 p. DOI:  10.1024/0301-1526/a000661 

  • This paper is a European-wide evidence based Guideline on how to investigate and manage Raynaud’s in Primary Care. 

2.  Landmesser U, Chapman MJ, Stock JK, Amarenco P, Belch JJF, Borén J, Farnier M, Ference BA, Gielen S, Graham I, Grobbee DE, Hovingh GK, Lüscher TF, Piepoli MF, Ray KK, Stroes ES, Wiklund O, Windecker S, Zamorano JL, Pinto F, Tokgözoglu L, Bax JJ, Catapano AL; European Society of Cardiology/European Atherosclerosis Society Task Force. New prospects for PCSK9 inhibition? March 2018 In European Heart Journal. Doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehy147 

  • This paper gives recommendations to the medical profession in Europe on the best way to use a new class of fat lowering drugs, the PCSK9 inhibitors, which have shown to be very effective in reducing heart attacks, stroke and amputation.