February 2019 research newsletter


Welcome to the February edition of our research newsletter.

Versus Arthritis is committed to building a compelling future for musculoskeletal research in the UK. Our live research investment of almost £150m (the total value of grants currently active in our portfolio) is at its highest level in over a decade, and we’ve seen impact of this investment across basic, clinical and applied research.

As we enter 2019, we’ve set our sights on new horizons and are continually adapting and building our approaches to national research funding. We’re ambitious in everything we do, working with and for people with arthritis. We’re doing this by providing support, campaigning for the appropriate recognition for arthritis and continuing to support innovative research.

Our ultimate goal is to defy arthritis through research and in the coming year we are focusing our efforts on:

  • building a compelling case for a significant increase in the national musculoskeletal research investment
  • ensuring that the impacts and opportunities from our current research portfolio are fully realised
  • embedding our new approach for ambitious investment through influence and partnership, spearheading large scale investments in key areas including pain and translational medicine
  • supporting growth in national musculoskeletal research leadership and talent
  • telling our story: bringing the research stimulated by the charity to life, helping people with arthritis to gain recognition
  • ensuring that every person with arthritis has the opportunity to participate, engage in or shape research that affects them
  • developing new strategic priorities through patient insight and researcher expertise and advice

This is a truly ambitious challenge ultimately aimed at transforming the landscape and providing new opportunities for the musculoskeletal research community.

In the coming year, our research investment will include new Pain and Cure challenge awards and a range of new fellowships as part of planned £27 million of new grants commitments. While prioritising our activities to focus on making significant progress towards the goals outlined above, we’ll continue to open career support funding programmes and anticipate additional targeted funding activity later in the year, although we aren’t scheduling further new major funding calls in 2019. Specifically, the ‘Stacking the Odds towards a Cure’ and ‘Pushing Frontiers in Health Research’ funding challenges will not open for new applications. As always, we will publish details of all available opportunities on our website, including this year our fellowship and PhD schemes and partnership grants.

We look forward to working with the research community, people with musculoskeletal conditions and our funding partners towards an exciting future for musculoskeletal research in the UK.

In this edition, you can find out more about our funding opportunities aimed at developing the future leaders of musculoskeletal research, as well as how we can support you to involve people with arthritis in your work.

We’ll shortly be inviting applications to join our newly established Research Advisory Groups, which will interface between our research activities and the patient, scientific and clinical communities. These groups will gather insight from basic and translational scientists as well as clinical and applied researchers, practitioners and trainees, to provide insight on key issues and opportunities to develop and influence research investment. Look out for more information coming soon.

Don’t forget, to keep up to date with the latest news from the research team, you can sign up to receive future newsletters and other important updates straight to your inbox.

We hope that you enjoy this edition of our research newsletter, and we welcome any feedback or comments.

Supporting research careers 2019

Funding world class research is vital in our push to defy arthritis. Through our programme of fellowships and PhD scholarships, we aim to support the future leaders of musculoskeletal research and encourage the brightest and most committed researchers to become involved in research in this discipline.

We are pleased to announce our fellowship funding deadlines for 2019 are as follows:

Foundation fellowships - 10 April 2019

Career development fellowships -10 April 2019

Senior research fellowships - Autumn 2019

PhD scholarships - Autumn 2019

MRC clinician scientist fellowship (in partnership) - 10 January 2019, 3 April 2019, September 2019

AMS starter grants for clinical lecturers (in partnership) -March 2019, September 2019

Clinical research fellowships - January 2020

For more details and to apply, take a look at our Fellowship information.

MSK Champions Versus Arthritis

We’re delighted to announce that applications for the second round of our MSK Champions programme, a prestigious leadership development opportunity, are now open with a closing date of Monday 4 March.

Together with international business school Ashridge Executive Education, we’ve created a bespoke leadership initiative which will support successful applicants to become champions of musculoskeletal care. You’ll join a galvanized community of role models and ambassadors who champion change and work together to improve the way health care is delivered.

If your application to this programme is successful, you will be supported and coached to develop your personal leadership skills and drive forward a service improvement project on MSK care, either with a local or national focus.

Patient involvement and communication workshop 16 May 2019

Our next patient and public involvement training workshop for researchers will take place on Tuesday 16 May at our London office.

We've developed this training workshop in collaboration with other medical research charities within the Shared Learning Group on Involvement in Research, as well as our patient insight partners.

This interactive workshop, co-delivered by members of our research team and patient insight partners, equips researchers with:

  • An understanding of the value of involving patients and the public in research
  • ability to differentiate between involvement, engagement and participation
  • key principles to consider before/during/after involvement activities
  • tips and considerations for communicating with a non-technical audience.

"As a laboratory-based researcher I was unsure how I could find a way to involve patients and the public in my work. The PPI course made me think more broadly about this and demonstrated the value that it could add to my research."

Dr Amy Naylor, Research Fellow, Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, University of Birmingham.

To book a place on this workshop, please contact the research involvement team on patientinsight@versusarthritis.org.