August 2021 research newsletter


As we move steadily towards the publication of our new research strategy this October, I would like to thank those who have contributed to its development. Input from our community of researchers and healthcare professionals, alongside people with arthritis, makes this truly a strategy for you, by you.

It is also an opportune moment to welcome two new additions to the Versus Arthritis community - our two new Trustees, Professors Iain McInnes and John Isaacs whose knowledge and insight will be pivotal within the Board as we move into delivery of the research strategy.

We have a lot to celebrate in this newsletter, including a very successful 3rd annual Pain Research in the UK conference, hosted by our Pain Centre Versus Arthritis. Congratulations also to our Research into Inflammatory Arthritis Centre Versus Arthritis (RACE), as well as the MRC Versus Arthritis Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work and Centre for Osteoarthritis Pathogenesis Versus Arthritis, whose host institutions are amongst the UK EULAR Centres of Excellence to have their status renewed to 2025 or 2026 - a great endorsement of the quality of research at these centres. We will also include research highlights from our community, including outstanding outputs, in our newsletters and in this edition you can read about exciting developments in osteoarthritis, lupus and fibromyalgia that we have supported.

Last week we, alongside our funding partners, announced the launch of a new Connect Immune Research grant call, focused developing new treatments for autoimmune and immune-mediated inflammatory conditions. Read more about this exciting initiative below, which will bring together multi-disciplinary teams to support translational research for the benefit of those living arthritis, as well as other autoimmune conditions such as diabetes and MS.

We have also recently agreed to renew our membership of the Europe PMC Funders’ Group, which we have belonged to since 2016. This renewal will take us up to 2026, enabling us to continue to contribute to the development of Europe PMC and reflecting our commitment to making research information, data and outputs more transparent and accessible to all.

Finally, I wanted to acknowledge the community’s feedback during the listening phase of the research strategy development, calling for more and advanced communication on our upcoming calls and initiatives. As we prepare to launch our next four-year strategy, we are also working hard on plans to implement it, and I wanted to assure you all that we will endeavor to give as much advance notice and details as possible about future opportunities to ensure we make this strategy a success, together.

Latest developments and activities

Connect Immune Research grant call launched!

The Lorna & Yuti Chernajovsky Biomedical Research Foundation working with Connect Immune Research, have launched an innovative new grant call to provide up to £1.3 million of new funding for research into the underlying causes of autoimmunity.

This first round of funding will provide up to £100,000 for 12 months to fund ‘pilot’ grants aimed at quickly developing proof of principle for potential new treatments for multiple autoimmune conditions by targeting pathways common to the different conditions.

Connect Immune Research partnership members include the type 1 diabetes charity JDRF, Versus Arthritis, MS Society, British Society for Immunology, Alopecia UK, Coeliac UK, Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance and Bowel Research UK.

Applications to the grant call ‘Targeting shared mechanisms in immune-mediated inflammatory diseases’ close at 16:00 BST, 13 October 2021. The call is being administered by Versus Arthritis on behalf of the Chernajovsky Foundation and Connect Immune Research partners. Please contact if you have queries.

Find out more about the Connect Immune Research - Chernajovsky Foundation Targeting Shared Mechanisms in Immune Mediated Inflammatory diseases.

Versus Arthritis joins the AMS Mentoring programme

We are pleased to announce that we have joined the Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS) esteemed mentoring programme.

This programme pairs early and intermediate career researchers with an Academy Fellow as a mentor and promotes an enabling, non-directive approach to help mentees make critical career decisions. Mentors provide a framework for making career choices and act as a signpost to information and resources, while gaining insights into the needs of early and intermediate career researchers.

To be eligible for this programme as a mentee, you should be a current Versus Arthritis Career Development fellow. If you are interested in getting involved in the Mentoring programme, please complete an enquiry form on the Academy’s website or if you have any questions contact

Enquire on the AMS website.

Latest awards from the Advanced Pain Discovery Platform

We’re delighted to announce we’ve recently funded a number of consortia through the APDP platform. These include:

  • PAINSTORM, led by Professor David Bennett, University of Oxford, who will be researching neuropathic pain, which is caused by damage to the sensory nervous system through conditions such as diabetes, chemotherapy and HIV.
  • The Consortium Against Pain in Equality (CAPE), led by Professor Tim Hales, University of Dundee, who will be researching the impact of unfavourable childhood experiences on chronic pain and response to treatment.
  • ADVANTAGE, led by Professor Christopher (Geoff) Woods, University of Cambridge, who will be researching how we treat people with visceral pain.
  • Psychosocial mechanisms of chronic pain, led by Professor Edmund Keogh, University of Bath, who will be researching how psychological and social factors can affect chronic pain.
  • Alleviate, a national data hub for pain research led by Professor Emily Jefferson at the University of Dundee. Alleviate is supported in collaboration with Health Data Research UK.

Read more about the APDP awards.

We are now also accepting applications to the Mapping the complexity of pain call, to those who submitted an intention to submit form for the July deadline. The call is for research projects focused on increasing the understanding of the underlying mechanisms of pain, through various disciplines, including psychological, biological, cognitive and sociological aspects.

Find out more about the call for projects.

Versus Arthritis passes the 2020 AMRC peer review audit with flying colours

We are delighted to share that we have passed the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) Peer Review Audit for 2020 with no issues. This audit is carried out every five years and collects information about AMRC members peer review processes to ensure that they meet the high standards required by the organisation.

Passing the audit allows us to demonstrate to our stakeholders (including government, researchers, funders and donors) that we are committed to the highest standards of accountability and fairness in the allocation of our research funding awards.

Due to our excellent practice, we have also been asked by the AMRC to put ourselves forward as a mentor for other charities to provide them with peer-to-peer support.

Upcoming opportunities and deadlines

MRC/ESRC/BBSRC-Versus Arthritis Advanced Pain Discovery Platform – Mapping the complexity of pain
Deadline 15 September 2021 (for those who have submitted an ‘Intention to submit’ form)

PhD scholarships
Deadline 22 September 2021

Connect Immune Research - Targeting shared mechanisms in immune-mediated inflammatory diseases
Deadline 13 October 2021

Accelerating New Treatments – opening September 2021
Deadline December 2021

Senior research fellowships – opening 13 October 2021
Deadline January 2022

Clinical research fellowships – opening autumn 2021
Deadline early 2022

Patient insight partners publish their experiences of making the patient voice heard in a research consortium

Two of our patient insight partners, Jane Taylor and Maureen Grossman, are authors on an article recently published in the journal Research Involvement and Engagement. The article describes the activities and learnings from the involvement of a Patient Council in APPROACH, a five-year European clinical research project focusing on osteoarthritis. We have not provided funding for this project however, along with the organisation ReumaNederland in the Netherlands (previously called Reumafonds), Versus Arthritis was involved as a consortium partner at the project proposal stage, helping to shape the proposal and facilitating the initial involvement of Jane and Maureen.

This is an interesting and informative article which provides valuable insight and learnings from the meaningful involvement of people with lived experience of arthritis in a research project, from the point of view of the patient council.

Read the article here.

Help us set our musculoskeletal research priorities

Are you involved in musculoskeletal disorders research, healthcare provision, or funding? At the Musculoskeletal Disorders Research Advisory Group Versus Arthritis, we want to hear from you. You helped us find the top priorities for future research into musculoskeletal conditions in part 1 of this exercise last year. We would now like to know what, in your opinion, are the most important of these questions that you think research should answer. Help us by completing the second survey of this exercise.

Fill out the survey here!

Ethics Approval Reference: R71769/RE003 (Medical Sciences Interdivisional Research Ethics Committee, University of Oxford).

We'd love to hear from you

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