September 2020 research newsletter


Welcome to our September newsletter.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact us all professionally and personally, on people with arthritis, our research, and our researchers.

We would like to acknowledge the ongoing efforts of researchers, clinicians and scientists who have done an incredible job in responding to COVID-19 by working in front line care, in COVID-19 testing labs, and those pursuing innovative COVID-19-related research.

But equally, we would like to thank our research community their sustained efforts towards helping us meet the challenges of arthritis and related conditions. We are pleased to say that during this period we are continuing to offer new research opportunities, with six active calls and more to open in the coming months.

We will support your return to research in any way possible, as well as supporting other organisations to lobby for the future of medical research on your behalf. Now is the time we must all act together to ensure that medical research gets the government support it needs.

Find out more about our recent activities by reading my latest message on our new webpage, dedicated to COVD-19 updates for our researchers.

The need for sustained research into arthritis

Analysis of UKCRC’s HRAF data, a cross public and charity sector data collection effort led by MRC once every four years, has revealed Versus Arthritis became the biggest UK funder in arthritis and related conditions’ research in 2018. However, between 2014 and 2018, overall yearly funding into arthritis decreased in the UK. This level of funding does not reflect the impact arthritis has on quality of life.

The analysis revealed an imbalance in types of research funding with a large proportion allocated to research focused on underpinning mechanisms and aetiology of arthritis, leaving some areas remaining significantly under-funded such as disease prevention, disease management and health services.

We continue to fight for the recognition of arthritis so that one day it will get the support it deserves.

Read the full Trends in Arthritis and Related Conditions Research report here (PDF, 225 KB).

Collaborating with the Bio Industry Association

We’ve been working closely with the Bio Industry Association (BIA) prior to and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Bio Industry Association (BIA)’s ‘charity of the year’ 2020, our partnership is committed to raise funds, spread awareness, and promote musculoskeletal research in the life sciences ecosystem. BIA is a membership organisation representing over 300 companies from across the bio industry, from big pharma to small start-ups and entrepreneurs.

In January we attended a fundraising gala hosted BIA, raising over £20,000 for research into arthritis and related conditions. In recent months Versus Arthritis has contributed to BIA board meetings and webinars to update on the challenges and risks faced by the arthritis research community, and share how Versus Arthritis is responding to ensure current and future research can continue. Over the coming months Versus Arthritis staff will be contributing to:

  • Patient Insight Webinar (September 2020) – a session bringing researchers and participants together.
  • Emerging data technologies in life sciences (October 2020) – a session titled ‘Research charities play a significant role in the bio industry’s ecosystem: why working with charities is good for your bottom line’
  • bioProcessUK 4.0 (December 2020) – a workshop presentation focused on arthritis.

A virtual platform for our Fellows

Every March we hold a two-day meeting that brings together our community of fellows, giving them the opportunity to showcase their work and network with each other and Versus Arthritis colleagues. We had to make the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Fellows Meeting due to COVID-19. However, to make sure our fellows don’t lose the opportunity to share all their hard work, we have invited our fellows to the first ever virtual fellows meeting on 29 September. We have supported our fellows in a number of ways during the pandemic to provide reassurance and guidance, and are looking forward to bringing our fellows community back together in this way.

Find out more about being a Versus Arthritis Fellow.

Making our research visible through open access

Versus Arthritis is committed to ensuring the knowledge and discoveries which result from our research are available freely and immediately for the benefit of all. Open access is an important means of achieving this as it enables everyone to access information that could benefit them, including people affected by arthritis and related conditions, researchers, or supporters.

Our means of supporting this endeavour is changing. For those researchers based in institutions that are part of the Charity Open Access Fund (COAF) this collaboration will cease on 30 Sept 2020 and the COAF funders will implement individual plans. For researchers not from a COAF institution and for everyone from 01 October 2020, to access support to publish articles resulting from work funded by Versus Arthritis, you should apply directly to us via Grant Tracker.

We are committed to working towards a sustainable future for immediate, open research information. Over the next 12 months we will be reviewing our policy against sector developments and with other funders to ensure we are maximising the return on our investment and effectively supporting the transition to a fair and unrestricted open access landscape.

Find out more about our open access support.

Upcoming opportunities and deadlines

Career development fellowships
Deadline 9 September 2020

Senior research fellowships
Deadline 9 September 2020

Academy of Medical Sciences Starter grants for Clinical Lecturers (in partnership)
Deadline 8 September 2020

Deadline 23 September 2020

MRC/Versus Arthritis Clinical Scientist Fellowship (in partnership)
Deadline 7 January 2021

Accelerating New Treatments
Deadline January 2021

Clinical research fellowships (Coming soon)
General details available on our website, more information coming soon.

Nurse and Allied Health professional internships (Coming soon)
General details available on our website, more information coming soon.

Pain research in the UK virtual conference (9 Sept)

Wednesday 9 September 2020 – 9.00 am-4.00 pm GMT

We are very excited to be sponsoring the second Pain Research in the UK conference hosted by the Pain Centre Versus Arthritis at the University of Nottingham. Following the success of this event last year the conference will again bring together UK clinical and preclinical researchers in musculoskeletal and other forms of pain. The day will combine elevator pitches and poster presentations, as well as a series of parallel workshops based on the interests of delegates.

We’d love to hear from you

If you have any feedback regarding our newsletter, or have any questions please email