24 March 2022

Launch of a new UKRI MRC National Musculoskeletal Network

As a key part of its investment in units and centres, the UK Medical Research Council has funded a new National Musculoskeletal Network to underpin a step change in musculoskeletal ageing research capacity and strategy.

Graphical representation of human body and skeleton

Led by Professor Cyrus Cooper and Professor Nicholas Harvey at the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre, University of Southampton, the network comprises an initial collaboration between key MRC investments: MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre (LEC); MRC-Versus Arthritis Centre for Integrated Musculoskeletal Ageing (CIMA); MRC-Versus Arthritis Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research (CMAR); MRC Epidemiology Unit; MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing; and MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, across the Universities of Southampton, Sheffield, Liverpool, Newcastle upon Tyne, Nottingham, Birmingham, Leicester, Oxford, Bristol, Cambridge and UCL.

This new national network will identify key tractable research priorities and coordinate an ongoing programme of innovative, interdisciplinary, collaborative studies to identify, develop and translate findings from discovery science to clinical impact. It will provide support for Early Career Researchers to build research capacity and ensure longevity to current UKRI investments. Crucially the network will contribute to delivering the government “Grand Challenge” target of 5 more years of independent living by 2035, by identifying approaches to maintain mobility in old age.

Professor Cyrus Cooper, MRC LEC Director, commented, “The opportunities afforded by this new national musculoskeletal network provide a unique and exciting infrastructure with which to advance musculoskeletal science, from molecule to population, and ultimately to make a major difference for the health of our patients and populations”.

Professor Nicholas Harvey, MRC LEC Deputy Director added, “This new national network, in addition to underpinning state-of-the-art discovery science, will provide a fantastic platform to support the next generation of researchers in this country, promoting musculoskeletal research as an evolving and growing field, and ensuring sustainable expertise in coming decades”.

Professor Eugene McCloskey, Director of the CIMA and based at the University of Sheffield said, “The new national network builds on a great deal of excellent research that has been conducted by the Universities of Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle within CIMA. It recognises the importance of good musculoskeletal health to healthy ageing, and provides a platform for enhancing wide-reaching basic, translational and clinical research to make a big difference to maintaining physical mobility within our communities, with all the benefits that that brings for individuals and society.”

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