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Pain Challenge

Maximum duration: up to 60 months
Maximum costs: up to £1.5 million
Expression of interest deadline (for awards >£700,000): 9 June 2016
Full application deadline: 9 September 2016
Contact: Dr Craig Bullock at 

What will these pain challenge research awards provide?

The focus of this pain challenge is on fundamental biomedical discovery pain research. Applications should aim to increase our understanding of the fundamental biological mechanisms and pathways which underlie musculoskeletal pain and/or lead to the prevention of musculoskeletal pain, or identification and development of new treatments for pain.

Through this call we seek to fund innovative, collaborative and cross-disciplinary research which will build on and expand national capacity for musculoskeletal pain research and sustain the pot

Further details about the call will be made available prior to the round opening and during the workshop on 9 May 2016. 

Who can apply pain challenge research awards?

We would encourage applications from both new and established pain researchers. Applications for the funding of large awards should be led by established groups with a substantial research track record supported by Arthritis Research UK or other funding bodies.

At least one of the applicants must have a tenured position within a UK university, hospitals or recognised academic research institutions. The lead applicant and co-applicants may apply for their own salary as long as they do not already hold a tenured position and at least one of the co-applicants has a tenured or permanent position (ideally the head of department).

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, covering pilot, pathfinder, project and programme level funding.


  • 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 employed on project grants and special justification will be required for funding senior postdoctoral research staff above point 37. 
  • London weighting allowance will be payable at the rate appropriate to each host institution. 
  • Inflationary salary increases for funding future years must be included in the application, in line with the most recent pay award agreed by the host institution (typically not greater than 2% a year). 
  • PhD studentships can be included (stipend only, tuition fees are not an eligible cost).


  • Running costs and 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.
  • We do not provide funds for personal computers/laptops unless essential to the project and justified accordingly. 
  • 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. 
  • In accordance with our conditions for the award of a grant, the host institution must maintain the equipment during its useful lifetime so that it is capable of operating for its intended purpose.

How to apply

For applications <£700,000: this is a single stage process and prospective applicants are invited to submit a full application through our grants management system, Grant Tracker.

For applications >£700,000: this is a two stage process. At the first stage prospective applicants are invited to submit an expression of interest (EoI) which should outline the case for support, identify the key background data including the applicants’ contribution, the goals of the research and approach to be taken and a high level overview of costs. This should be submitted as a word document, no more than 5 pages in length, before 9 June 2016.

Successful applicants will be notified of outcome within 10 days of the deadline and invited to submit a full application through Grant Tracker. Applications for >£700,000 which have not been approved through the EoI process will be rejected without further consideration following the round closing.

Applicants should submit their EoIs to by 5pm on 9 June 2016.

Further details will be made available in the call document ahead of the round opening.

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