Working in partnership

Working in partnership

We work in partnership with others to maximise the impact of our research funding and allow us to achieve more than we could do on our own. We work with organisations across the UK and abroad including other research funders, universities, hospitals and commercial organisations. Some examples of our exciting partnership work are highlighted below.

Musculoskeletal translational research collaboration

An introduction to the UKMSK TRC

An introduction to the UKMSK TRC from the Chair, Professor Costantino Pitzalis

What is the UK MSK TRC?

The UK Musculoskeletal Translational Research Collaboration (UK MSK TRC) is a joint initiative between Versus Arthritis and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) for early phase translational research. The collaboration brings together our previous investment in Experimental Arthritis and Osteoarthritis Treatment Centres with the NIHR infrastructure through their relevant Biomedical Research Centres.

By bringing together national expertise in musculoskeletal translational research, the collaboration aims to create a UK-wide ambition and focus to drive cutting edge translational research and will move us closer towards a world free from pain, fatigue and isolation of arthritis. The UK MSK TRC will also provide industry with streamlined access to world leading academic clinicians and scientists with expertise in conditions including:

  • connective tissue diseases
  • inflammatory arthritis
  • osteoarthritis
  • pain

In addition, by providing a network of expertise and a collaboration in which to undertake clinical studies, we hope that this collaboration will stimulate industry activity in musculoskeletal research and will play a role in increasing the investment in musculoskeletal research to levels that equate the scale of the impact of arthritis.

The UK MSK TRC works collaboratively with all sectors of the health and care ecosystem including the life sciences industry, charities and other funders to further research in musculoskeletal disorders and to help develop new diagnostics and treatments. Areas of unmet need are regularly reviewed to determine emerging topics that could become a focus for the group.

Patient and public involvement and engagement is a central theme of the TRC approach, through a strong relationship people with arthritis via both Versus Arthritis and the NIHR.

“By working together, we can accelerate the development of new treatments, devices and diagnostics to tackle complex areas of unmet healthcare needs.”

Peter Taylor, University of Oxford

UK MSK TRC partner organisations

Lead academic Centre
Professor Costantino Pitzalis Barts Health NHS Trust; Queen Mary University of London
Professor David Isenberg University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust; University College London
Professor Peter C Taylor Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust; University of Oxford
Professor John Isaacs The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Newcastle University
Professor Ian Bruce Manchester Academic Health Science Centre
Professor Chris Buckley The University of Birmingham; Birmingham/Sandwell/Dudley Hospitals
Dr Natasha Jordan Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; University of Cambridge
Dr Matthew Pickering Imperial College London; Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
Professor Andrew Cope King's Health Partners Academic Health Science Centre
Professor David Walsh Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust; University of Nottingham
Dr Francesco Del Galdo University of Leeds; Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
Professor Chris Edwards University of Southampton; University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
Professor Michael Beresford University of Liverpool; EATC4children
Professor Athimalaipet Ramanan Bristol Royal Hospital For Children; EATC4Children
Professor Ernest Choy Cardiff Regional Experimental Arthritis Treatment and Evaluation Centre (CREATE)
Professor Iain McInnes University of Glasgow; Research into Inflammatory Arthritis Centre Versus Arthritis (RACE)

For more details, or to find out how you can collaborate with us, please contact Natalie Williams at

Arthritis Research UK MQ Fellows award

We joined with mental health research charity, MQ: Transforming Mental Health, to award a fellowship to Dr Sam Norton at King’s College London in 2016. The project aims to create an app to help healthcare professionals track symptoms and identify people with rheumatoid arthritis at risk of ongoing problems, including mental health issues. We awarded the 2017 MQ fellows award to Dr Jessica Eccles from Brighton and Sussex Medical School, who will be creating and testing a new therapy to treat anxiety in people with hypermobility. We will be looking to fund more fellowships alongside MQ.

Medical Research Council

The MRC funds research across the biomedical spectrum, from fundamental laboratory-based science to clinical trials, and in all major disease areas. We have a long-standing funding partnership with the MRC, including:

  • MRC-Arthritis Research UK Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research
  • MRC-Arthritis Research UK Centre for Integrated Research into Musculoskeletal Ageing
  • Arthritis Research UK-MRC Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work

We also have a number of other co-funded strategic awards, as well as the latest partnership to fund a clinician scientist fellowship in the musculoskeletal research field, which hopes to further build on musculoskeletal research leadership in the UK.

National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs)

The NC3Rs are a government-funded independent scientific organisation with the goal of reducing the numbers of animals used in research and improving the quality of animal research. Together we have identified that animal models of arthritis have potential for further application of 3R relevant technologies or approaches.

To address this, we’ve come together with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to co-fund and co-sponsor a NC3Rs CRACK-IT challenge. CRACK IT Challenges are competitions that fund collaborations between industry, academics and SMEs to solve scientific and business challenges involving animals. The title of the CRACK-IT challenge is 'Osteo-Chip: an in vitro model to recapitulate the human osteoarthritis joint', it aims to develop an advanced in vitro model of the human osteoarthritic joint.

Design Council SPARK

We partnered with the Design Council for their SPARK product innovation fund - a fast track programme that provides mentoring and bespoke training to help UK-based product inventors to develop their products for market. The 2017 award was given to Geoff Rolandsen for his invention of the Workey key turner, which is a product that helps ease the use and management of keys, with particular benefit to those with reduced hand dexterity.

Visit our news for researchers page to keep up to date with the latest news on our research partnerships.

If you are interested in becoming a funding partner, please contact the research team on