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Help us stack the odds towards a cure

Maximum duration: up to 60 months
Maximum costs: up to £1.5 million
Outline application deadline: 22 February 2017
Full application deadline: 28 June 2017

What is the cure challenge?

We are inviting applications for research proposals that will move us further along the pathway to developing a cure and more effective treatments for people with arthritis.

Through this call, we seek to fund ambitious and innovative research that will make significant strides in understanding musculoskeletal diseases, building on and expanding previous work in the field, as well as inspiring new original research. Funded research resulting from the call will be expected to lay the foundations for long-term impact on the quality of life for people with arthritis. The focus of this cure challenge is on discovery and early translational research.

We have included four highlight areas in this call where we feel significant advances can be made, and we would encourage applications in these areas. These are:

  • Immune pathways and immunotherapies
  • Repair and regeneration
  • Harnessing genetics and functional genomic approaches to disease  
  • Learning from rare diseases

Applications outside of these areas will still be accepted. Further details about the scope of the call can be found in the call document.    

Who can apply for the cure challenge research award?

We wish to encourage applications from both new and established researchers. At least one of the applicants must have a tenured position within a UK university, hospital or recognised academic research institute. We welcome applications from early career investigators however we won’t accept fellowship applications as part of this call.

Applications for the programmatic level funding is intended to support substantial bodies of research and awards should seek to answer an interrelated set of questions. Applications for these awards should be led by established groups with a substantial internationally competitive research track record.
As the focus of these awards is on discovery research, applications for clinical studies will not be accepted. Further information on eligibility criteria can be found in the call document and guidance document.

What can you apply for?

We have adopted a flexible approach for this challenge and awards are available for up to 60 months, within in the funding region of £50,000 to £1,500,000. It is expected that we will fund a number of small, medium and large awards.


Research staff and technical salaries (set by host institution) should be according to age and experience on the appropriate scientific or clinical salary scale.
A maximum spine point 43 on the national scale is allowed for postdoctoral research staff, special justification is required for funding senior postdoctoral research staff above point 37.

  • London weighting allowance will be payable at the rate appropriate to each host institution.
  • The percentage of inflation must be included in the application and be in line with the most recent pay award agreed by the institution (and no greater than 2% a year).
  • PhD studentships can be included (stipend only, tuition fees are not an eligible cost).


  • Reasonable running costs.
  • Small items of essential equipment may be requested up to a maximum cost £30,000. Any single item costing £5,000 or over must include a written estimate.
  • Costs for the purchase and maintenance of laboratory animals can be applied for. Studies involving animals must provide adequate details on the number, species, strain and associated costs of animals to be used in the study.
  • Any requests for computers must be fully justified and integral to the success of the research.
  • Access charges for use of specialist equipment may be applied for within expenses.
  • In line with other UK medical charities, Arthritis Research UK does not provide funds for directly allocated or indirect research costs, such as administrative costs or overheads.
  • A full list of eligible and ineligible costs can be found in the guidance document    

How to apply

There is a two stage application process for all applications, regardless of funding level. At the first stage applicants are invited to submit an outline application which provides an overview of the project and funding requested. This should be submitted through our grants management system GrantTracker where the outline form is available. The deadline for the receipt of outline applications is 16:00 on 22 February 2017. Submissions after 16:00 will not be accepted.

Applicants will be informed of the outcome of the outline stage in April 2017 and successful applicants will be invited to submit a full application in GrantTracker to a deadline of 16:00 on 28 June 2017. Funding decisions are expected in December 2017.

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Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.