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Announcing changes to our research funding

Published on 27 January 2016

Last year we redefined our purpose and agreed a new strategic focus to 2020, to make a positive and tangible change in the quality of life for people with arthritis, so they can say “I am in control, independent and recognised”.

Our ambition is to transform the lives of people living with arthritis, whilst continuing to fund ground breaking research aimed at preventing the onset of arthritis and developing a cure for arthritis.

To achieve this, we’re transforming the scope of our research investment and adopting a new approach to funding, with changes to how we deliver support for musculoskeletal research within the UK. This includes changes to the organisation, remit and membership of our committees, enabling exciting new research opportunities to flourish.

New areas of research investment are already being developed and the charity’s ongoing support for basic discovery research, translational funding, clinical studies, health and experimental medicine will be built using a range of research and personal awards.

New committee structures

We’ve worked with our scientific strategy committee (SSC) and Trustees to develop a new approach to funding research including a revision of how we plan, manage and seek advice on our research activity. This year we’re replacing SSC with a new strategic committee (the charitable purposes committee), which will provide high level advice and oversight to the charity on the growing non-research, as well as research, activities.

This will be underpinned by three new themed sub-committees across disease, treatment and health and further supported by a college of experts. As well as helping us develop new research activity, these sub-committees will evaluate research and make award recommendations. We are currently finalising the recruitment of the new committee chairs and further details regarding the committees will be announced in due course.

Our funding investment

In aligning our funding towards our purpose and strategic focus to 2020, we have issued research highlights over the past year in the areas of pain and fatigue in our calls for project and career development fellowship schemes and opened a new dedicated call focusing on health services research.

We continue to invest in new discovery research; a good example is a call we completed in 2015 towards understanding the link between the microbiome and musculoskeletal health.

Our programme and project grants have supported outstanding research for many years and the funding of high-quality investigator-led research remains a priority for the charity. From 2016 the traditional cycle of project and programme grants will be replaced by dedicated calls that focus on key challenges. The first of these will address musculoskeletal pain, heralding a new long term investment in this important area.

To follow this, we are developing an ambitious research investment where we will challenge the community to undertake research to stack the odds towards a cure.

Clinical studies and fellowship schemes will continue in their equivalent format at this time, with an alignment to our purpose and strategic focus.

Collectively, this new approach to funding will incorporate flexibility and opportunity across the breadth of our research community and we look forward to working with you as we transition over to our new approach.

Next steps 

Further information regarding new funding schemes and other important details will be available on our website as they are developed. We encourage you to stay updated by subscribing to our news for researchers RSS feed - sign up through your email to have updates delivered directly to your inbox.

If you need further support or advice please contact the research department on or 0300 7900 403.

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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.