Types of grant

Quality improvement in rheumatology practice: Delivering change for patients – 7 June 2021 deadline


We are collaborating with Pfizer UK to offer a new competitive funding opportunity focused on improving patient care and outcomes in rheumatology.

Call information

Applications are invited from UK health care organisations for a Quality Improvement Grant to support ‘’Quality Improvement in Rheumatology Practice: Delivering Change for Patients’’.

Proposals should address gaps in the appropriate management of one or more of:

We are particularly interested in proposals that:

  • Focus on the improvement of patient care, patient experience and improved outcomes aiming at systematic and continuous actions that lead to measurable improvement in health care services and the health status of individuals and targeted patient groups in rheumatology.
  • Improve services and pathways for people with chronic inflammatory arthritis conditions with the aim of improving people’s quality of life, ability to self-manage (such as self-efficacy, patient activation), co-morbidities, and overall patient experience.
  • Proposals which will have the highest chance of making a difference to the lives of people with arthritis.

Proposals for projects covering the following areas are out of scope of this call:

  • Clinical research projects.
  • Projects evaluating the efficacy of therapeutic or diagnostic agents.

During review the intended outcome of the project and translation into the NHS to benefit patients will be given careful consideration. Any patient involvement or patient input into any stage of the project should be outlined clearly.

How to apply

These grants are administered by Pfizer UK, more information and details on how to apply can be found at www.pfizer.co.uk.

Submission deadline is Monday 7 June 2021.

The total amount of funding available for this Call will be £216,000 which is intended to be used to fund up to four successful applications.

Grant applications will be reviewed by an expert review panel (ERP) to make final grant decisions. The ERP is comprised of patients with lived experience of arthritis, professionals from the medical community with advanced degrees and expertise in particular clinical areas, or specific needs of a geographic region/learner group, or expertise in research, continuing professional development or quality improvement. Funding decisions are anticipated by August 2021.

Career Development Fellowships – 14 July 2021 deadline

Deadline: 16:00 on Wednesday 14 July 2021
Contact: Shereen Sabbah and Julie Marsden at research@versusarthritis.org

Career development fellowships are our intermediate postdoctoral awards which aim to attract and retain talented postdoctoral basic scientists, vets, nurses and allied health professionals, and provide them with the opportunity to develop an independent research career and progress towards higher-level appointments. These fellowships offer five years of funding and applications should be jointly submitted by the candidate with a sponsor. Full details of the scheme and guidance documents are available here.

Foundation Fellowships - 14 July 2021 deadline

Contact: Shereen Sabbah and Julie Marsden at research@versusarthritis.org

Foundation fellowships aim to retain the best postdoctoral researchers in areas of research relevant to arthritis and musculoskeletal diseases and provide an opportunity for fellows to develop independent research ideas at an early stage in their career. Foundation fellowships are open to basic science and other non-medical (including nurses, allied health professionals and veterinary surgeons) PhD students in the final year of PhD training, or within two years of completing their PhD at the time of application. These fellowships can’t be taken up until the PhD has been awarded. Full details of the scheme and guidance documents are available here.

PhD scholarships - OPENING SOON

Opening: Wednesday 23 June 2021
Deadline: 4.00 pm on Wednesday 22 September 2021
Contact: Shereen Sabbah and Julie Marsden at research@versusarthritis.org

Our prestigious PhD 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.

Applications should be made by the proposed PhD supervisor at an eligible institution. Applicants can either include a named student or recruit a suitable student after the award has been made.

Full details of the scheme and guidance documents are available here.

MRC/Versus Arthritis Clinician Scientist Fellowship (in partnership) - CLOSED

These fellowships allow talented medically and other clinically qualified professionals, who have gained a higher research degree to lead their own research, establish a research team and make the transition to independent investigator. The clinician scientist fellowship (CSF) provides either four year or five years' support, covering personal salary costs, together with support for research staff, consumable expenses, travel costs and capital equipment appropriate for the research project. All applicants must have obtained a PhD (or equivalent), or expect to have done so, by the time they take up the award. Full details of the scheme and guidance documents are available on our fellowships page.

MRC/ESRC/BBSRC-Versus Arthritis Advanced Pain Discovery Platform – Pain Research Data Hub - CLOSED


As part of the UKRI/Versus Arthritis Advanced Pain Discovery Platform (APDP) initiative we are launching a call for proposals to establish a national data hub for pain research in partnership with Health Data Research UK.

The purpose of the hub is to bring together and curate health data from the NHS, social care and research (academic and industry) to provide innovative new high value data resources for pain research and innovation. The hub investment will serve to underpin original research rather than support it directly and will be embedded within the broader infrastructure and network of Health Data Research UK.

This call is being administered through UKRI and will support the funding of one hub for 3 years. Up to £2m UKRI contribution at 67% Full Economic Cost (FEC) is available.

For full information on this call including the hub specification please visit the UKRI funding page.

Who can apply

You must be a UK research organisation eligible for Medical Research Council funding. This includes:

  • higher education institutions
  • approved independent research organisations
  • approved NHS bodies
  • research council institutes.

Please see the MRC guidance for applicants for further information on institutional and individual eligibility.

Applications must be able to demonstrate appropriate scientific and clinical leadership, a track record of the use of health data for public benefit, and the ability to process health data for research and innovation. The hub must deliver a national service that will be financially sustainable in the long-term.

Recognising the value of regional data sets and leadership it is expected that proposals involve multi-institutional collaboration. However, proposals must be submitted by a single lead organisation.

Institutions may be partners to more than one application but should only act as lead institution for one.

At least one member of the partnership must have a demonstrable track record in acting as a data custodian with the ability to make data accessible for research, development and innovation taking place across academia, industry and the NHS.

We strongly encourage collaboration across sectors, including NHS organisations, academia, industry and other partners. You can also include international co-investigators if they provide expertise that is not available in the UK. We expect strong commitment to patient involvement in the development and implementation of the data hub.

How to apply

If you are intending to apply to this call please email the expression of interest form found on the UKRI website to spfpain@mrc.ukri.org by 16:00 29 January 2021. Please include the names of the PI, Co-Is and any collaborating organisations confirmed at this stage. This is to help us manage conflicts at the panel assessment stage and will not involve any assessment at this stage.

This is a single stage call and a full proposal should be submitted through the UKRI Je-S system by 16:00 25 February 2021.

If you have any queries on the call please email spfpain@mrc.ukri.org or the Versus Arthritis contact: Clare Farmer at research@versusarthritis.org.

Starter grants for clinical lecturers – CLOSED

Maximum duration: one to two years
Deadline: 15:00 on Monday 8 March 2021
Contact: Academy of Medical Sciences grants team at clinicallecturers@acmedsci.ac.uk

This scheme is a partnership between the Academy of Medical Sciences and Versus Arthritis. Other partners in this scheme include the Wellcome Trust, the British Heart Foundation, the Medical Research Council and Diabetes UK.

What do starter grants for clinical lecturers provide?

The starter grants for clinical lecturers scheme provides modest starter funds of up to £30,000 over one to two years to enable research active clinical lecturers to pursue their research work, gather preliminary data and so further strengthen their applications for longer term fellowships and funding.

Who can apply for a starter grant for clinical lecturer?

The grants are intended as start-up funding and as such are not intended for applicants who have already obtained substantial funding through, for example, Clinician Scientist Fellowships, New Investigator Awards or large project grants.

All eligible applicants must:

  • Have a PhD or MD 
  • hold a medical, dental or veterinary undergraduate degree and be registered with the General Medical Council, General Dental Council or Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons 
  • hold a clinical contract.

What can you apply for?

The maximum grant available is £30,000. This can be spread over one to two years to contribute towards directly incurred research costs such as consumables and equipment.

Grants cannot be used to pay for your personal salary costs or to employ research assistants, PhD students or postdoctoral staff.

How to apply

These grants are administered by the Academy of Medical Sciences, more information and details on how to apply can be found at acmedsci.ac.uk.

During the review process, prior career breaks will be taken into account when evaluating a candidate’s research output and progress.

Successful applicants cannot reapply. Unsuccessful applicants are limited to one resubmission.

Submission deadline is 15:00 on Monday 8 March 2021.

The Panel will convene in June with the results and feedback to follow.

Clinical Research Fellowships - CLOSED

Deadline: 4.00 pm on 3 March 2021
Contact: Elizabeth Watermen and Julie Marsden at research@versusarthritis.org.

Clinical research fellowships are our entry level scheme for talented medical and non-medical healthcare professionals. They're awarded to encourage clinically qualified professionals into an academic research career in any discipline relevant to arthritis and related musculoskeletal conditions. 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 (including surgeons/surgical trainees), whilst non-medical healthcare professionals need to have at least one year's experience of clinical practice. Full details of the scheme and guidance documents are available here.

Nurse and allied health professional internship scheme - CLOSED

Opening: 8 December 2020
Contact: Mary Fry (m.l.fry@soton.ac.uk)

What do the internships provide?

This internship scheme is open to recent graduates (within 5 years) or final year students in an AHP profession (HCPC registerable) or Nursing with either a predicted or a first or 2:1 degree who have an interest in clinical research into the personal impact of arthritis and musculoskeletal diseases. The internships are for eight weeks full-time equivalent with the core dates covering July and August but flexible and part-time options are available. They provide opportunities to gain research experience working alongside some of the UK’s leading nurse and allied health researchers.

Full details of the Nurse and allied health professional internship scheme are available here.

MRC/ESRC/BBSRC-Versus Arthritis Advanced Pain Discovery Platform – Multidisciplinary Consortia for Data Generation – CLOSED

Versus Arthritis in partnership with the Medical Research Council (MRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) are pleased to announce the launch of a £14m call for large and ambitious multidisciplinary consortia.

This will build the foundation of a national-scale programme supporting discovery and translational science that will bring together leadership, tools, and resources to help unravel the complexity of pain, driving new treatment development. This investment is part of a major new £24m initiative to establish an Advanced Pain Discovery Platform that is jointly supported by the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund and Versus Arthritis and will lead to step changes in the understanding and treatment of chronic pain across a wide range of conditions.

The call will make £14m available through 4-year awards to fund high impact, multidisciplinary consortia that will bring together researchers across the breadth of biomedical, social, and data sciences. The consortia are expected to establish enduring national-scale leadership, infrastructure and capability that extends beyond the initial 4-year award. They will serve to underpin a future broader portfolio of pain research supported by UKRI, Versus Arthritis and others, and should collaborate with each other to ensure added value from the Advanced Pain Discovery Platform. It is expected that the consortia will embrace complementary access to patients, healthy volunteers and underpinning technology. Areas of focus could include; multi-omic biology, image data generation, cognitive and psychosocial factor identification, exploiting existing biological samples and data and new sample/data collections. We expect that this programme of work will support 3-5 consortia.

Call information

The call will provide funding for collaborative multidisciplinary consortia that will focus on:

  • Pursuing innovative and ambitious “big ideas” in chronic pain research, which will enable a step change in the field.
  • Improving our understanding of the mechanisms of pain, building on our knowledge of normal pain processes to better understand chronic pain, taking into account biological, cognitive and psychosocial factors.
  • Collating, generating and interrogating human data and samples, to allow for the identification and validation of new interventions, and to allow improved access to well-phenotyped human populations.

Each application should demonstrate how it will:

  • Actively strengthen intersections between important disciplines that do not routinely engage with each other.
  • Build capacity in the field and develop skills.
  • Embed knowledge mobilisation.
  • Involve patient insight in the development of the outlined work as well as collaborate with them in the delivery of the proposed research.

It is expected that successful consortia will focus on chronic pain, however applications may be focussed on specific pain-related disorders or may consider common mechanisms underlying multiple pain conditions.

This initial call includes, but is not limited to, key staff posts and infrastructure costs, data collection and access, sample storage and sample analysis, with an emphasis on data and samples for patients and healthy volunteers. As these consortia will be co-funded between Versus Arthritis and UKRI, awards will be made at 67% fEC.

As part of this Advanced Pain Discovery Platform initiative, a second phase of complementary calls will be launched in the near future for hypothesis-led research projects (with the foci of these being either generated from within, or aligned to the successful consortia), a data management platform, and bioinformatics projects.


The funding call will be in two stages:

1. Expression of Interest

To participate in this call for consortia, you must submit an Expression of Interest to MRC-UKRI via a bespoke online submission system by 31st of August 2020. You can find the online submission system on the MRC-UKRI call page which can be accessed here. On the MRC-UKRI call page you can also find additional guidance on the call and how to complete the Expression of Interest form. The purpose of the Expression of Interest phase is to enable selection of the highest quality applications, and those that are likely to develop into competitive full proposals. Decisions on Expressions of Interest will be made in October 2020. The potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the preparation of Expressions of Interest is recognised by the funders, and it is anticipated that details of workstreams and consortium partners might evolve between selection and submissions of full application.

2. Full application

Shortlisted Expression of Interest applications will be invited to submit a full application by January 2021. Guidance on how to make the full submission will be provided to successful Expression of Interest applicants. Applicants will be invited to be interviewed by a bespoke panel of experts as part of the funding decision.

For full information on this call please visit the UKRI funding page.

If you have any queries on the call please email spfpain@mrc.ukri.org or the Versus Arthritis contact: Clare Farmer at research@versusarthritis.org.

Accelerating New Treatments Versus Arthritis – CLOSED

Maximum duration: 36 months
Maximum costs: £300,000
Application deadline: 16:00 18 January 2021
Contact: Natalie Williams at research@versusarthritis.org


The UK Musculoskeletal Translational Research Collaboration (MSK TRC) is a partnership between Versus Arthritis and the National Institute for Health Research. The partnership aims for the globally recognised centres of the UK to be at the forefront of musculoskeletal experimental medicine. The collaboration draws on the rich discovery, clinical and translational research landscape of the UK to accelerate new treatments and deliver cutting edge improvements for patients. The new collaboration operates an expansive, flexible, inclusive model. This builds on our previous investment in Experimental Arthritis and Osteoarthritis Treatment Centres and NIHR Biomedical Research Centres, welcoming and encompassing wider hubs and collaborators.

To bring momentum to the area, we will fund mechanistic experimental/translational medicine studies in humans across the areas of prevention, diagnosis or treatment that are aimed at priming the next transitional step.

Applications should be focused on an unmet arthritis need, within or across the collaboration’s themes. Studies that tackle related COVID-19 questions are also encouraged.

  • Studies can employ novel design, exploratory endpoints, biomarkers, imaging, big data or profiling/stratification approaches.
  • Studies can include digital technology solutions and account for co/multi-morbidities.
  • Applications should be patient insight-driven and involve people with arthritis in the development of the outlined work, identifying or corroborating an unmet need and collaborating with them in the delivery of the proposed research.
  • Studies should carefully consider the population position in the life-course (younger to older). We are particularly interested in applications with a target population that includes the young or the elderly.

Who can apply

Applications should ideally involve at least two key organisations affiliated to the MSK TRC (as a lead, co-applicant or collaborator).

In cases of applicants beyond the core TRC centres and with an absence of TRC linkage, investigators should speak with the office.

One applicant must have a tenured position within a UK university, hospital or recognised academic research institute.

How to apply

More detailed information about this call can be found in Accelerating New Treatments Call Document (PDF, 298 KB).

Read the application form and guidance documentation (PDF, 395 KB) before starting an application.

Please ensure that the most appropriate language is being used in each section of the form and that the correct sections are completed.

This is a single stage application process.

Submit applications through Grant Tracker, where the form is available. The deadline for the receipt of outline applications is 16:00 on Monday 18 January 2021. Submissions after 16:00 will not be accepted.

If you have any questions about the call please email research@versusarthritis.org.

Senior Research Fellowships – CLOSED

Deadline: 16:00 on Wednesday 9 September 2020
Contact: Shereen Sabbah and Paul Thornhill at research@versusarthritis.org

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 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. Full details of the scheme and guidance documents are available here.

Medical Technologies PoC Funding Call - CLOSED

Maximum duration: up to 2 years
Maximum costs: £100,000
Deadline: 30 June 2020
Contact: Mandy Wilkes at research@versusarthritis.org or Graeme Howling at G.Howling@leeds.ac.uk

What does Medical Technologies Proof of Concept fund provide?

Funding is intended to develop or evaluate innovative technologies that help support individuals suffering with musculoskeletal conditions; in particular projects that develop the following:

  • Medical devices
  • Orthotics
  • Implantable therapeutic delivery
  • Imaging

Who can apply for funding?

Any academic, clinician and allied health care professional at a UK institution.

Collaborations with industry are strongly encouraged.

What can you apply for?

Maximum support that can be requested is £100,000


Requested salary costs should be based on a recognised pay model or the host institution’s local salary scale, including London weighting if appropriate. We must be advised of the pay model used and, where a local pay model is to be applied, a copy of the appropriate scale must be sent with the application. Annual increments must be included which should be based on the host institution’s own salary scale, including London weighting if appropriate.


Those interested in learning more about the call are encouraged to read the Medical Technologies Proof of Concept Award call document (PDF, 213 KB).

How to apply

Expression of Interest applications should be submitted by 5.00 pm 30 June 2020 via Grant Tracker.

The Versus Arthritis Outstanding Fellows Prize – CLOSED

Deadline: 16:00 on 1 July 2020

Contact: Shereen Sabbah and Paul Thornhill at research@versusarthritis.org

As an addition to our existing awards and career support activities, we are launching The Versus Arthritis Outstanding Fellows Prize. The Versus Arthritis Outstanding Fellows Prize will be awarded in two categories in 2020 – the Versus Arthritis Outstanding Fellows Prize (early career category) and the Versus Arthritis Outstanding Fellows Prize (late career category). Each prize will recognise academic achievements, research outputs and contribution to new knowledge with the potential for significant impact on the quality of life of people with arthritis. The recipient of each prize will receive a personal cash prize, a research support award payable to their institute and a commemorative trophy. Full details of the prize, eligibility, and application guidance documents are available here.