November 2020 research newsletter


As we near the end of 2020 and hope for a more positive start to 2021, I wanted to thank you all and share our deep appreciation for your hard work and dedication – whether that be continuing your research supported by Versus Arthritis, or in the various other ways and means you have been working and sustaining yourselves throughout this challenging year.

For our part, we have worked hard to maintain lines of support for your research; in new open calls and in supporting our rich and valuable portfolio of active grants and we will continue to do this as well as we are able. We are also planning ahead and will set our course for the next few years in a new research strategy that we will publish in the early Summer 2021.

Research is something to celebrate and I am delighted and proud that we have launched our new outstanding fellows prize to recognise accomplishment in research and I congratulate this year’s inaugural winners. Whilst we would normally meet face to face, we brought together our network of fellows in a productive virtual meeting in September for a scientific exchange and to recognise their achievements.

I will be leaving the charity at the end of the year and as I do, I reflect on eight rich years of challenge and achievement by all of you and by the hard-working research teams here at Versus Arthritis. I believe we have accomplished a great deal together and even with all the significant challenges we all now face, I am confident about a positive and vibrant future for research into arthritis and related conditions.


Accelerating New Treatments Versus Arthritis

We are pleased to announce that that first funding call around the Musculoskeletal Translational Research Collaboration with the National Institute for Health Research, Accelerating New Treatments, is now open for applications. This call aims to fund projects in translational/experimental medicine, which will accelerate the speed at which new treatments are available to people with arthritis.

Deadline for applications is 16.00pm on 18th January 2021. Detailed information on eligibility and how to apply is available on our website.

Read more about the Accelerating new treatments call.

New study into inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis and COVID-19

We’ve supported a number of new research projects into COVID-19. We’re now supporting researchers at University College London to investigate the effects of anti-TNF on regulatory immune cells, and how this might influence the outcome of COVID-19 infection in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Read more about the inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis and COVID-19 study.

MedTech IKC/Versus Arthritis Conference

Wednesday 18 November 2020 11.00-15.30 (free of charge).

We are proud to have teamed up with Medical Technologies Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC) at the University of Leeds to bring you a unique opportunity to hear the latest in medical technology development. This virtual conference brings together a network of academics, industrialists, clinicians, patients and regulatory body representatives through lively presentations and interactive discussions. Sessions include:

  • Updates from IKC’s most successful projects
  • Presentations from Versus Arthritis researchers and Patient Insight Partners
  • Interactive panel discussions.

The full programme will be announced soon, but registration for this event is open now.

Find out how to register for the MedTech IKC/Versus Arthritis conference.

Outstanding Fellows Prize 2020

Earlier this year, we launched our first outstanding fellows prize to recognise Versus Arthritis fellows’ academic achievements, research outputs and contribution to new knowledge, with the potential for significant impact on the quality of life for people with arthritis.

We are very pleased to now be able to share the two prize winners with you:

  • The Early Career Outstanding Fellows Prize was awarded to Dr Chris Wincup (Clinical Research Fellow), University College London
  • The Late Career Outstanding Fellows Prize was awarded to Professor Kim Midwood (Senior Research Fellow), University of Oxford.

Congratulations to them both!

Read more about the prize winners.

Help us set our musculoskeletal research priorities

Are you involved in musculoskeletal disorders research, healthcare provision, or funding? Are there important questions about musculoskeletal disorders that you think research should answer? At the Musculoskeletal Disorders Research Advisory Group Versus Arthritis, we want to hear from you. You can help shape the top priorities for future research in this area by completing our Research Priority Setting survey. The survey should take between 10-30 minutes to complete and responses will help us identify, shape and champion priority areas of research to further our understanding and management of musculoskeletal disorders.

Fill out the survey.

Upcoming opportunities and deadlines

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

Accelerating New Treatments Versus Arthritis
Deadline 18 January 2021

Clinical research fellowships (launching 11 November 2020)
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.

Join us in asking the government to back charity-funded research

COVID-19 has had a devastating financial impact on medical research charities, who face cuts to their research investment in coming years. Results from an AMRC survey published last week show that 40% of charity-funded early career researchers have considered leaving medical research due to funding concerns since the pandemic hit the UK. AMRC have shared the results on their website and on Twitter, which you can share. We have joined with AMRC to lobby Government to set up a Life Sciences Charity Partnership Fund in the upcoming spending review to mitigate against the significant charity funding shortfalls in the next year and consequent devastating impact on UK medical research.

Read the AMRC’s full story.

We’d love to hear from you

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