Intended for healthcare professionals


James B Richardson: persuaded NICE to recommend stem cell therapy for cartilage repair

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 20 March 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k1266
  1. Penny Warren
  1. London, UK
  1. penny.warren{at}

In October 2017 the man affectionately known to his team simply as “Prof” delivered a momentous announcement at the 11th annual Oswestry Cartilage Symposium. After more than 20 years of trials and research, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) had finally approved the autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) procedure for articular cartilage defect.

ACI involves taking chondrocytes from healthy cartilage, culturing them in the laboratory, and then transplanting them into a damaged area of cartilage. It was developed by Richardson’s team at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH) in Oswestry.

Sally Roberts, a longstanding colleague, says that Richardson’s ability to see a project through was key: “James was an optimist and an enthusiast. He saw the bigger picture. And if he believed in something he would chase it and follow it through.”

Early years and working abroad

Richardson was born near Inverness in 1955. He went …

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