Latest news and updates

Senior research fellowship – call for applications

Applications are now open for our senior research fellowship with a deadline of 16:00, Wednesday 28 November 2018

Senior research fellowships are our most prestigious fellowship grants. They're awarded to outstanding researchers committed to a career in any discipline relevant to arthritis and related musculoskeletal diseases, who don't hold an established academic post. 

Senior research fellowships are open to postdoctoral basic scientists, vets, clinicians or nurse and allied health professionals, normally with 6–12 years' postdoctoral research experience. Applicants should be based in a multidisciplinary environment in a UK university department or research institute. They should have proven ability in establishing an independent research programme, substantiated by publications in international journals and the award of peer-reviewed grants. Awards will be for up to five years and are not renewable.

The project must demonstrate clear relevance to our purpose and strategy, and we’d like to strongly encourage applications to this scheme which are aligned with our current strategic objective on improving the quality of life of people with arthritis.

Further Information 

For further details on funding timelines, how to apply, the application criteria, and associated documentation, please visit the call for applications.

For further details on funding timelines, how to apply, the application criteria, and associated documentation, please visit the call for applications.

For further guidance, please contact the research department on

New director for biomechanics and bioengineering centre in Cardiff

Published on 13 August 2018

We are pleased to announce that Dr Valerie Sparkes has recently been appointed, by ourselves and Cardiff University, as the next director for the Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre. This appointment follows the retirement of Professor Bruce Caterson as centre director at the end of July.

"I am looking forward very much to working with our unique multidisciplinary research team which has established an extensive research network over the last 9 years." Dr Valerie Sparkes, centre director.

Professor Caterson has served as the centre director since January 2016, providing exemplary leadership, and a passion for the field of musculoskeletal research, which has been recognised through numerous international achievements spanning his 45 year career in the field. We would like to thank Professor Caterson for his time as centre director, and ongoing commitment and support to the charity.

Dr Sparkes took up the role of centre director on 1 August 2018. Dr Sparkes is a Reader in Arthritis Research and is the Director of Innovation and Impact in the School of Healthcare Sciences at Cardiff University. She has been involved in the centre since its inception, helping shape the strategy of the centre in its second term of funding. Dr Sparkes worked clinically as a musculoskeletal physiotherapist for 18 years in Cambridge. She is a member of Cardiff Institute of Tissue Engineering and Repair (CITER), whose focus is on multidisciplinary research and is Honorary Secretary of the British Orthopaedic Research Society.

Her main research interests are in spinal pain and dysfunction, and developing movement specific self-management strategies. Dr Sparkes’ vision is to utilise the strength of the team of researchers within the centre together with state of the art technologies to increase collaboration and the multidisciplinary nature of the research already taking place within the centre.

Dr Sparkes commented: “I am looking forward very much to working with our unique multidisciplinary research team which has established an extensive research network over the last 9 years. The centre has access to some of the most up to date research facilities including the Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Research Facility in the School of Engineering, a Virtual Reality Gait Analysis Interactive Laboratory in the School of Healthcare Sciences and a suite of neuroimaging equipment that is unique in Europe at the Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre.”

Joint Cancer Research UK Immunology Project Awards

Published on 30 July 2018

Following on from our previous partnership with Cancer Research UK (CRUK), we are pleased to announce that we are now partnering once again through joint funded project awards. We hope to maximise progress in our shared priorities spanning both cancer and musculoskeletal conditions.

The joint funded CRUK – Arthritis Research UK Immunology Project Awards will foster collaborations between researchers from both fields, encourage researchers to share expertise, and address questions relevant to both cancer and musculoskeletal conditions. Applicants must explain how their research proposal will bring patient benefit for both diseases.

Examples of proposals relevant to both cancer and arthritis that we welcome as part of this funding call are:

  • Immune metabolism.
  • Mechanisms behind adverse autoimmune events in cancer immunotherapy, such as the exacerbation of inflammatory arthritis.
  • Mechanism of action studies that explore opportunities to re-position existing drug strategies that support the treatment of cancer or arthritis.
  • Investigations that support the diagnosis, stratification or treatment decisions specific to the management of cancer or arthritis.

The deadline for applications is Wednesday 7 November 2018. Applications will be administered and assessed alongside CRUK’s Cancer Immunology Project Awards. Successful applications will be jointly funded by both charities.

Physiotherapy for musculoskeletal health

Published on 26 July 2018

We’re pleased to announce that we have worked with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), as part of the expert panel, on their recently published review Moving Forward - Physiotherapy for Musculoskeletal Health and Wellbeing.

This publication provides an overview of research funded by the NIHR, ourselves and others, looking at physiotherapy and the role of physical activity in treating musculoskeletal conditions, and maintaining musculoskeletal health and wellbeing. It includes evidence on why research in this area matters, assessment and matching patients to treatment, restoring musculoskeletal health, and maintaining musculoskeletal wellbeing.

A number of studies funded by us are featured in the report, including the STarT Back screening tool, developed by researchers at our primary care centre, which consists of a simple questionnaire to help clinicians improve outcomes for back pain. The tool is now being used in clinical practice. The report also features one of our new studies, PANDA-S, which is aiming to develop a better way to assess the cause of shoulder pain and find the most appropriate treatment based on an individual’s characteristics.

Work and health challenge fund announced

Published on 23 July 2018

The Work and Health Unit have announced the launch of their challenge fund aiming to support people with mental health or musculoskeletal conditions to stay in work. We would like to highlight this great opportunity to apply for funding in the musculoskeletal health and work landscape.

The Work and Health Unit, which is jointly managed by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health and Social Care has announced a £4.2 million challenge fund to seek applications to test new approaches that can help people experiencing mental health and/or musculoskeletal issues stay in work.

They are seeking applications which will improve understanding in a number of areas, including helping people stay in work by increasing their ability to self-manage their conditions, and helping people access advice and support about what sort of work they might be capable of doing given their wider needs and circumstances. They will also welcome applications that seek to develop new approaches to help employers and individuals create workplace solutions, or ways of working that facilitate greater participation of people experiencing these conditions.

There will be a number of engagement events taking place that will help you to consider whether you would like to submit an application. Full details on the fund and how to apply, can be found on the challenge fund application portal.
If you will be applying to the fund, please let us know as soon as possible. We are also happy to discuss this with you. Please get in touch at

Maximising the UK's musculoskeletal experimental medicine opportunities

Published on 19 July 2018

There is recognition that the UK’s world leading investigators have opportunity at the forefront of musculoskeletal experimental medicine to deliver improved patient outcomes. To this end, on 29 June 2018, we facilitated a valuable day of discussions at the Arthritis Research UK and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Musculoskeletal Experimental Medicine Conference hosted by the Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre.

The purpose of this meeting was to collectively explore the alignment and opportunities to maximise, improve and add to the UK musculoskeletal experimental medicine investment. With the ultimate aim of accelerating the translation of innovations for the benefit of patients, the public and the healthcare system. The meeting was attended by representatives from pharma, other funders (devolved nations, Innovate UK, NIHR), researchers, biorepositories and the Academy of Medical Science.

Alongside this, the Academy of Medical Science and Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries (ABPI) published a report from a meeting held in March on Bridging the preclinical-clinical boundary. The meeting in March looked at better ways to integrate across this boundary to accelerate the translation of research into health benefits. Their report explores how the UK can remain at the forefront of discovering and developing new medicines, potentially by embracing new models that can improve the translation of research.

Using the above report as a reference point, we felt that the meeting aligned well with its purpose in that there was good exploration of the broad musculoskeletal experimental medicine landscape which gave a valuable review of the varied ways of working and infrastructures. The dialogue showed some clear recognition of the issues and opportunities and there is good appetite to seek where to work up collaborative approaches to advance experimental medicine for benefit of patients with arthritis.

The discussions are being collated and there will be a report to follow, which will be distributed widely.

Starter grants for clinical lecturers

Published on 16 July 2018

Applications are open for the Academy of Medical Sciences starter grants for clinical lecturers scheme with a deadline of 17:00 on Monday 10 September 2018. We're pleased to support these awards as a partner funder.

The grants provide modest starter funds of up to £30,000 to enable research active clinical lecturers to pursue their research work. Clinical lecturer posts provide a salary but often do not come with the funding to support the costs of research. This scheme was designed to help bridge this gap by providing clinical lecturers with access to modest research funds for up to two years, giving them experience of preparing a research grant application and helping them establish their research portfolios by providing funding for research consumables.

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

If you have any questions about the application, please contact the Academy's grants team on

Professor Keith Palmer awarded OBE

Published on 21 June 2018

Congratulations to Professor Keith Palmer, University of Southampton, who has been awarded an OBE in the Queen's New Year Honours list 2018 for services to Occupational Health and Medicine.

Professor Palmer was influential in his work with the Arthritis Research UK-MRC Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work. The centre is focused on addressing major research questions to reduce the impact of musculoskeletal disorders, such as back pain and arthritis, in the workplace.

Professor Palmer led the Health and Employment After 50 (HEAF) study, an Arthritis Research UK funded study, which has recruited more than 8,000 people, aged between 50 and 64, to complete annual questionnaires about their work and their health. Current findings have shed light on the important role of poor physical function in work loss in this age group. The results of the ongoing study have already been used to engage with policy makers and could potentially lead to the development of new interventions to reduce the risk of poor physical function impacting on the ability to participate in work.

PhD scholarship scheme - call for applications

Published on 20 June 2018

Applications are now open for our PhD scholarship scheme with a deadline of 16:00 on Wednesday 19 September.

A limited number of our prestigious PhD scholarships are available to encourage the best graduates to embark on a research career in any discipline relevant to arthritis and related musculoskeletal diseases.

These awards offer up to 4 years funding to successful applicants, which includes a generous tax-free incremental stipend, UK tuition fees and enhanced running costs.

Scholarships are awarded annually, by open competition, for projects that have clear relevance to our aims, and provide training in research in a multidisciplinary environment. Applications should be made by the proposed supervisor at an eligible institute. We encourage the inclusion of a named student on the proposal, although applications will be accepted with projects alone, with student recruitment to be carried out at a later date.

Proposals may also be submitted for collaborative studentships by institutions with an industrial sponsor/supervisor.

Scholarships will be awarded by open competition for PhDs starting in autumn 2019. Due to funding regulations applicants must be based in the UK.

Applications should be made through our online grant management system Grant Tracker.

Further Information

For further details on funding timelines, how to apply, the application criteria, and associated documentation, please visit our information for applications.

If you have any further queries about this call for applications, please contact the research office at