September 2023 research newsletter

Welcome to our September Research Newsletter 2023

We are delighted to introduce Professor Lucy Donaldson as our new Director of Research and Health Intelligence. She will be joining Versus Arthritis in October to lead on the delivery of our research and organisational strategies.  

Lucy will be bringing her extensive research experience, and expertise in researcher career development to the charity and we are thrilled to be welcoming her to the team.

Lucy joins us from the University of Nottingham, where she is Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Researcher Academy and Researcher Career Development, as well as Professor of Sensory Physiology.

In her current role at the University of Nottingham, she leads an extensive research programme focused on the mechanisms of acute and chronic inflammatory pain. Lucy has a long history with the charity, both as an award holder and a committee member, most recently on our Fellowship Expert Committee. 

Lucy is looking forward to working with our wonderful research community to continue to support world-leading research that moves us closer to a future free from arthritis.

2023 State of Musculoskeletal Health Report

We have recently published the State of Musculoskeletal (MSK) Health report 2023.

The State of MSK Health is a compendium of statistics that aims to provide the best picture available of the current prevalence of MSK conditions UK-wide, the number of people at risk of developing these conditions, and the subsequent impact of MSK conditions on people’s lives, the wider health system, and society.

The 2023 report sees the return of condition specific pages, and contains new sections, including health inequalities and access to care.

We hope that this will be used not only by the charity, but also by researchers, health professionals, policy makers, public health leads and anyone else interested in MSK health.

Additionally, for the first time the State of Musculoskeletal Health has been translated and is now available on our website in Welsh.

Please share with your networks and if you have any questions, please contact our team at

Better Lives Today, Better Lives Tomorrow

Our Early Detection and Targeted Treatments 2024 call is currently open, looking for ambitious projects focusing on our “Early detection and prevention” and “Targeted treatments” priority areas.

We will also be calling for applications for these priority areas annually until 2026.

We are currently shaping our plans for investment in our Living Well priority area, which we plan to call for applications early next year for award during 2024.

In November, relevant stakeholders including researchers, health professionals and research partners will come together to workshop and shape the call.

Please keep an eye out for future announcements surrounding the call. We are also continuing to scope out our approach to supporting networks of research excellence. We will keep you up-to-date on our progress in this space in future newsletters.

Upcoming Funding Deadlines

Early Detection and Targeted Treatments 2024

Currently open

Deadline: 27th September 2023

Funding decision: March 2024


Fight for Sight/ Versus Arthritis Small Grant Award

Currently open

Deadline: 13th September 2023

Funding decision: December 2023 

Research highlights from our community

17th National MSK Health Data Group

In June we had our 17th National MSK Health Data Group.

This event brings together people with an interest in data and MSK conditions, and provides an opportunity to hear, share and discuss data-related activities going on across the MSK community.

Research surrounding MSK Health inequalities and inequities was shared and discussed in the first panel and in the second panel we heard from our Oliver Bird Fund awardees, who shared their plans for the next 2 years. You can find a recording of the meeting below.

The next Health Data Group will be held in December, if you would like to attend, would like to contribute at future health data groups or would just like to learn more, please email Health intelligence at


Latest developments and activities

Our Future Health

Our Future Health aims to be the UKs largest ever health research programme. They will have blood samples, a genotypic panel, lifestyle questionnaire data, linked healthcare records and the consent to recontact and provide health feedback to up to five million participants. This will be a unique resource that researchers can apply to use to investigate all sorts of research questions and to facilitate translational research.

When taken together, the information will create an incredibly detailed picture of the nation’s health. Researchers will be able to analyse it to find new ways of preventing and tackling diseases, so that future generations can live in good health for longer.

If you’d like to hear more about the progress of the programme, research events, partnership opportunities and more you can opt in to what you would like to hear about below.

Help us test our new standards for involvement

We have drafted new involvement standards for funding applications to Versus Arthritis. These standards have been created in partnership with people with lived experience of arthritis and aim to support researchers applying for funding from us to understand our expectations of their patient and public involvement.

Before rolling them out, we would like to test these with a diverse and inclusive group of researchers, in workshops, to make sure they are achievable and if not, explore the additional support we could provide in future to make that the case. If you are interested, or know someone who may be interested in joining a workshop, in October or November please get in touch at

Involving young people

Have you heard of Your Rheum? It is a UK-wide young person’s advisory group for people aged 11-24 years, who have volunteered to provide their thoughts, ideas and opinions on current adolescent and young adult rheumatology research. Your Rheum can help you with all stages of your research project from generating research questions, writing the grant application, through to evaluating the impact of your research. Find out more, including how you can work with them below.

Sharing good PPI practice

We want to hear from you! Help us to build up our examples of good practice in public and patient involvement (PPI), so that we can share this and your learnings with researchers who are earlier on in their work to involve patients and the public.

We’d love to hear your experiences, big wins or small, what you’ve learnt, or advice you would give others. Send us quotes, stories or reports to If you are happy and have consent to, we love to include names and images alongside the text, so share these too.

Join us and Walk to World Arthritis Day this October

Starting on the 1st, you will be recording your steps, whilst raising money and awareness for people with arthritis, finishing on the 12th of October which is World Arthritis Day.  We’re asking thousands to sign up whether you walk 500 steps a day, or 10,000 – this is for everyone! Find out more and to register for the challenge below!

Dates for the diary

World Arthritis Day: 12th October 2023.

18th National MSK Health Data Group: 1st December 2023

2024 Fellows Meeting: 20th – 21st March 2024

We’d love to hear from you

If you have any feedback regarding our newsletter, or have any questions please get in touch.