News for researchers

Progress Review Committee member positions now open for applications - closing date extended

We are seeking clinical and academic members for the Progress Review Committee who will advise the charity on the progress of studies recruiting human participants and provide feedback to those award holders within the Versus Arthritis research portfolio. Members will be expected to input expertise and insight for their respective areas and consider bi-annual progress reports from award holders.

We aim to appoint 3 members and would particularly welcome applications from individuals with expertise in the following:

  • Expertise of CTIMP, surgical or experimental medicine studies.
  • Bone, connective tissue disease or vasculitis.
  • Trial design and statistical methods.

For further information on these positions and how to apply please see the briefing document (Word, 649 KB).

Closing date for applications: Midday on Monday 21 March, 2022

Call for Applications for Musculoskeletal Disorders Research Advisory Group Lead

Versus Arthritis has over £100m invested in research. In 2019 we established Research Advisory Groups in three fields to gather and connect the respective patient, research, and practitioner communities to interact with the charity around research prioritisation and investment.

We are seeking to appoint a senior academic, with a track record in collaborative research leadership, to Lead the Musculoskeletal Disorders Research Advisory Group to develop activities across discovery science, clinical and applied research.

Research Advisory Groups have a UK-wide remit to bring together people with lived arthritis experience, scientists, clinical and allied health professional researchers and practitioners and trainees. Group activities provide insight on key issues and opportunities to develop and influence research investment across discovery science, translational research, clinical research and applied research in disease management and health care services. Click here to find out more about the groups.

Following the recent publication of our research strategy 2022-2026, our Research Advisory Groups will continue to have an integral role in identifying unmet needs in arthritis research, and helping inform prioritisation and implementation of our strategic goals.

This position is available under the scheduled rotation. The post is available from 1 April 2022 and appointments are for a three-year term in the first instance. The post is associated with an appropriate monetary allowance, administrative support and travel allowance. Roles and Responsibilities and Terms of Reference are available upon request.

The Musculoskeletal Disorders Research Advisory Group works to improve the quality and impact of research which seeks to develop our understanding and management of musculoskeletal conditions. Conditions this group cover include, but are not limited to:

This group aims to be inclusive of all musculoskeletal disorders except those already included by the Autoimmune Disorders and Inflammatory Arthritis Research Advisory Groups. The group has been extremely productive since its inception, having undertaken a formal research prioritisation exercise which is currently being prepared for publication.

If you are interested in applying for the post please contact Dr Sarah Rudkin, Head of Research Strategy and Growth with any queries ( Potential applicants are welcome to obtain further information from the outgoing Musculoskeletal Disorders Research Advisory Group Lead, Dr Fiona Watt from Imperial College London. If you would be interested in speaking with Dr Watt please contact Dr Clare Farmer who can arrange this (

Applicants should submit a brief CV giving details of current and relevant previous posts and roles, accompanied by a statement exemplifying relevant experiences and expertise and outlining how the applicant will develop the work of the Group (1,000 word maximum). The next scheduled dates of the Musculoskeletal Disorders Research Advisory Group are 23 March and 15 June.

Applications should be submitted by 10 March to Glen Neal ( Shortlisted applicants will be invited to a short interview to be held virtually on 30 or 31 March.

Putting our new Research strategy into action: up to £4m leveraged under new partnership for Musculoskeletal research

Following the launch of our new Research Strategy, we are pleased to share details of our first partnership initiative under the aegis of this strategy that will take forward one of the four priority areas – Living Well.

We have proactively developed our relationship with the Nuffield Foundation to partner for the next Oliver Bird Fund (OBF) initiative. The broad goal of the Fund is to improve the lives of those living with musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions and the new joint call will focus on biopsychosocial approaches to generate new knowledge to support policy- and practice-led improvements for people with musculoskeletal conditions. Applications focused on the following areas will be considered; participation in education, training work; economic security; supporting mental health; and socio-economic inequalities that increase the risk of poorer outcomes for people with MSK.

Interdisciplinary approaches, as well as applicants from wider fields as well as those with musculoskeletal expertise, are particularly welcome to apply.

Applicants must submit an outline proposal by 14 March 2022. Short-listed applications will then be invited to submit full applications during July 2022.

For full information on how to apply for this funding, please see the Oliver Bird Fund website.

For more information, please contact

Clinical Research Fellowship Scheme – applications open

Applications for the clinical research fellowship funding scheme will be opening on the 13 October 2021 with a deadline of the 12 January 2022.

Clinical research fellowships are our entry level scheme for both talented medical and non-medical healthcare professionals. They aim to provide training in clinical and/or laboratory research techniques leading to a higher degree (usually a PhD).

Medical graduates are expected to apply usually during speciality training, whilst non-medical healthcare professionals need to have at least one year's experience of clinical practice. Non-medical healthcare professions that are now eligible to apply include: dentists, physiotherapists, nurses, occupational therapists, podiatrists, prosthetists, orthotists, psychologists, veterinary surgeons, radiographers and pharmacists.

Fellowships are normally awarded for three years, but we also encourage applications from candidates who wish to apply for less than three years' funding, due to having already secured part-funding towards a PhD from another funding body. Projects must be in areas of research relevant to arthritis and musculoskeletal diseases.

How to apply

Accelerating New Treatments - applications open

Applications are now open for our Accelerating New Treatments call.

As part of the UK Musculoskeletal Translational Research Collaboration (MSK TRC), we have opened the second funding call for research projects that advance the translational pathway to delivering new treatments or cutting-edge improvements for people with arthritis.

The MSK TRC is a partnership between Versus Arthritis and the National Institute for Health Research. The MSK TRC collaboration was established to bring internationally renowned UK-based research centres to be at the forefront of musculoskeletal experimental medicine.

Projects must be human studies across the areas of prevention, diagnosis or treatment. They must also address an unmet need in arthritis and align with the Musculoskeletal Translational Research Collaboration’s themes, including:

  • connective tissue diseases
  • inflammatory arthritis
  • osteoarthritis
  • pain.

We are particularly interested in applications that consider life-course, both young and old.

The deadline for applications is 4.00pm on 1 December 2021.

Detailed information on eligibility and how to apply is available here.

Senior Research Fellowship Scheme – applications CLOSED

Applications for the senior research fellowship funding scheme will be opening on the 13 October 2021 with a deadline of the 12 January 2022.

Senior research fellowships are our most prestigious fellowship grants. They're awarded to outstanding medical, veterinary, nurse and allied health professional or science graduates committed to a research career in any discipline relevant to arthritis and related musculoskeletal diseases, who don't hold an established academic post. Awards will be for up to five years and have a maximum limit of £750,000 for costs which can be applied for, the host research organisation will be required to provide a minimum of 50% of the applicant’s salary for the duration of the award. Projects must be in areas of research relevant to arthritis and musculoskeletal diseases.

How to apply

Call for research projects investigating the mechanisms of pain

As part of the Advanced Pain Discovery Platform (APDP) initiative we are launching a call for research projects focused on increasing the understanding of the underlying mechanisms of pain. The call is funded as a partnership between UKRI, Versus Arthritis, the Medical Research Foundation and Eli Lilly, and a joint investment of up to £10.5 million is available.

What are we looking for?

Projects can seek to explore mechanisms of pain in various disciplines, including psychological, biological, cognitive and sociological aspects. Proposals may focus on a specific pain condition, or they may span conditions. We expect to support pre-clinical as well as clinical research projects and projects must demonstrate how they can lead to impact for people with lived experience of chronic pain. Proposals focusing on the following areas are encouraged:

  • musculoskeletal conditions in both adults and children.
  • The transition from acute to chronic pain, changes in the experience of pain, and/or the transition to remission.
  • The use of AI, machine learning and other innovative data technologies.

Through the involvement of the Medical Research Foundation, part of the available budget has been ring-fenced for funding of research into mechanisms of pain in children and adolescents, with a particular, but not sole, focus on musculoskeletal conditions in this group.

The research funded through this call will be expected to work with the recently established APDP Consortia and Alleviate – the APDP Pain Research Data Hub, to share information, and identify and exploit synergies between research disciplines and conditions.

Who can apply?

You must be a UK research organisation eligible for Medical Research Council funding. Please see the MRC guidance for applicants for further information on institutional and individual eligibility. Early and mid-career researchers are strongly encouraged to apply.

What can be applied for?

The call will support a broad portfolio of research projects ranging from smaller, more focussed grants to larger research grants. Funding can be sought for a maximum of 3 years and we do not expect to support grants above £1 million. Grants will be funded at 67% Full Economic Cost.

How to apply

This call is being administered through UKRI and full information on the application process can be found on the UK Research and Innovation webpage. Anyone planning to submit an application to this call must complete an intention to submit form by 4.00 pm, 15 July 2021. This is to help us prepare for peer review and manage conflicts at the panel assessment stage and will not be assessed in any way.

The full proposal should be submitted through the UKRI grant management system Je-S by 4.00 pm, 15 September 2021.

For more information on this call please see the UKRI funding page. If you have any queries on the call please email or the Versus Arthritis contact: Clare Farmer at

Help us redesign our research webpages

With the launch of our new strategic priority later in the year, we are taking the opportunity to redesign the research section of our website to ensure that current and prospective award holders can easily access relevant, up to date and engaging information on our research priorities, opportunities and latest news.

We need your help to make our pages the best they can be!

How can I get involved?

We are looking for people who would like to:

  • Tell us what you think about our current research webpages by completing a short survey
  • Be involved in a focus group to redesign the webpages (2-3 virtual meetings throughout 2021).

For more information please contact:

Congratulations to Professor Mark Wilkinson

We would like to send a huge congratulations to Professor Mark Wilkinson, who recently recieved a 2021 Fellowship Award from the Orthopaedic Research Society, for recognition of his achievements in bone disease research.

The Orthopaedic Research Society is the world’s largest professional organisation dedicated to musculoskeletal research, and the Fellowship Award is the most prestigious international award that the society can bestow upon it’s members. Those who are selected for this honour have demonstrated exemplary service and leadership, substantial achievement, expert knowledge, and significant contributions to the society and the field of musculoskeletal research.

We are proud to have supported Mark throughout his career. He began his career with a PhD funded through one of our Clinical Research Fellowship awards, and we have subsequently supported several of his research projects over the years. Mark has also been a member of both our research sub-committee, and the previously existing metabolic bone clinical studies group.

He commented, “I am honoured and humbled to receive this award from my research peers. This award reflects all the hard work done over many years by the bone and joint research team at the University of Sheffield, supported in no small part by Versus Arthritis and our fantastic patients! Without their support, we would not have been able to make our strides forward in understanding of arthritis and find better ways of improving the lives of patients.”

Versus Arthritis funding contributed to one of Mark’s key research achievements, the development of the JointCalc tool, which allows patients and GPs to predict outcomes of joint replacement surgery, and is now widely used across the world. He was involved with our ground-breaking arcOGEN study, which provided a significant leap forward in understanding of the genetic factors known to cause osteoarthritis. He also led research that we funded looking to understand why some joint replacements fail. This work improved understanding in this area and identified new genetic risk factors for loosening of joint replacements.

Please do get in touch and let us know if you or any of your colleagues have recently won an award as we love to shout about these. You can contact us at

PhD scholarship scheme - opening soon

Applications for the PhD scholarship scheme will be opening on Wednesday the 23 June 2021.

These scholarships aim to encourage the best basic scientists and non-medical healthcare professionals (including nurses and allied health professionals) to embark on a research career in any discipline relevant to arthritis and related musculoskeletal diseases.

PhD scholarships include a generous tax-free incremental stipend, UK tuition fees, fixed expenses and a travel grant for conference attendance.

The deadline for applications is 4.00 pm on 22 September 2021.

Who should apply?

Applications should be made by the proposed supervisor at an eligible institution. Applicants may include a named student or apply with projects alone, with student recruitment to be carried out at a later date.

 How to apply

Detailed information and guidance on applying for the scholarships can be found here. Applications should be made through Grant Tracker. For all enquiries, please contact