Further Funding Awarded into Research to Reduce the Burden of Work Disability


New funding has been awarded to renew the National Centre of Excellence for Musculoskeletal Health and Work for a further five years (2019-24). The collaborative application was led by medical researchers at the University of Southampton.

Versus Arthritis and the Medical Research Council gave £2.2 million to the Centre, which aims to find and develop cost-effective ways to reduce the burden of work disability that results from Musculoskeletal conditions (MSDs). These conditions include lower back pain, osteoarthritis, inflammatory arthritis, gout and rarer conditions, such as lupus. They are estimated to be the cause of 30.6 million lost workdays each year, the second leading cause in the UK.

The £2.2 million is a rise on the initial £1.4 million that was awarded when the Centre was established in 2014.

The Centre, coordinated from the University of Southampton’s Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (MRC LEU) based at Southampton General Hospital, collaborates with the Universities of Aberdeen, Bath Spa, Keele, Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester and Salford and colleagues at Guys’ and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, the King’s Centre for Military Health Research and the Institute for Employment Studies.

Professor Karen Walk-Bone, Director of the National Centre of Excellence for Musculoskeletal Health and Work stated:

There is plenty of evidence that people with musculoskeletal conditions want to work but that they often need support and suitable adjustments from employers to enable them to work.

We have put forward an ambitious plan for research that will take place in healthcare settings, public health and workplaces over the next 5 years in order to better understand how to make differences in all these areas.

A Versus Arthritis spokesperson said:

Living with these conditions can steal people’s independence, preventing them from being able to remain in work. Our insight shows many people leave work due to lack of support, suitable adjustments and understanding of their condition from employers.

We are therefore proud to support, alongside the MRC, the centre for a further 5 years, so that we are able to continue to invest in important research to bring benefits to people with arthritis.

Professor Cyrus Cooper, Director of the MRC LEU and a co-PI of the Centre of Excellence:

This success is testimony to the wonderful national investigative team built around this University of Southampton Centre, addressing critical issues in Work and Musculoskeletal Health.

The MRC LEU is directed by Professor Walker-Bone. Several Southampton colleagues are involved: Professor Cooper, Professor David Coggon, Dr Linaker, Dr Harris, Dr Syddall, Dr Ntani, Ms D’Angelo, Mr Stevens, and Ms Zaballa.


2019/2020 Deputy Editor. English grad with a love for giraffes, tea and travel.

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