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Musculoskeletal Disorders


We fund research projects on musculoskeletal disorders through our funding programmes, and support training and career development for researchers in the specialty.

We deliver musculoskeletal disorders research funded by the NIHR, the life sciences industry and non-commercial organisations such as charities. We support the set up and delivery of this research in the NHS and in public health and social care settings. Our research infrastructure also supports research funded by these partners, offering expertise, collaborations and facilities.

We also provide opportunities for people affected by musculoskeletal disorders and their families and carers to influence and take part in research.


The NIHR supports patients and the public to participate in high quality research taking place in health and care settings across England, advancing knowledge and improving care.

NIHR Clinical Research Network

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) includes 30 specialty groups, who coordinate and support the delivery of high quality research by therapy area. Some of this research is funded by the NIHR, but most of it is funded by non-commercial organisations, such as charities or universities, and the life sciences industry.

The CRN provides researchers with the practical support they need to make research happen. It supports the set up and delivery of clinical research in the NHS and in other health and care settings through our Study Support Service, with tailored offers of support for:

Supporting musculoskeletal disorders research

We oversee clinical research into normal structure and function of joints, bone, muscle and cartilage, and diseases resulting from problems with musculoskeletal structure and function.

Our research areas of focus include:

  • arthritis
  • metabolic bone disease
  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • orthopaedic surgery
  • rheumatological diseases and disorders

We support studies led by other closely related specialties, for example, neurological disorders, surgery and trauma and emergency care, to deliver high quality musculoskeletal disorders research.

Who we are

As well as providing research delivery staff, we also bring together highly engaged NHS consultants and clinical academics from top UK universities, bringing both clinical and academic expertise to your research. Our experts in the CRN Specialty Group can advise on delivering your musculoskeletal disorders study in the NHS and in particular geographic regions.

Professor Siôn Glyn-Jones and Dr Kirsten Mackay are the CRN National Specialty Co-Leads for Musculoskeletal Disorders.

They are supported by local specialty leads in each of the 15 NIHR Local Clinical Research Networks.

Our collaborators and stakeholders

The Musculoskeletal Specialty Group collaborates closely with a variety of partners, including professional bodies such as the British Orthopaedic Trainees Association, the British Society for Rheumatology, and the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

We also liaise with charities, such as Versus Arthritis and organisations such as the Orthopaedic Device Evaluation Panel (ODEP).

We partner with Versus Arthritis for the UK Musculoskeletal Translational Research Collaboration, bringing together the Versus Arthritis investment in Experimental Arthritis and Osteoarthritis Treatment Centres with the NIHR infrastructure.

NIHR Clinical Research Facilities

NIHR Clinical Research Facilities (CRFs) are purpose built facilities in NHS hospitals where researchers can deliver early-phase and complex studies. Find out more in the support tab.


Our funding programmes fund high quality research in musculoskeletal disorders that benefits the NHS, public health and social care. We also provide career development funding awards for musculoskeletal disorders researchers - see the careers tab for more information.

Our funding programmes

Our commissioned research programmes often seek research proposals on musculoskeletal disorders. Some examples of topics include repair and rehabilitation of hand flexor tendon injury and reverse versus conventional shoulder replacement for adults with osteoarthritis.

Most of our funding programmes also run funding calls open to research proposals on any topic (researcher-led calls), including research proposals in musculoskeletal disorders.

Got an idea for research in musculoskeletal disorders? The NIHR Research Design Service can help you turn it into a funding application, offering advice on research design, research methods, identifying funding sources, and involving patients and the public.

Our portfolio of musculoskeletal disorders research

You can search and view all the musculoskeletal disorders research we’ve funded on NIHR Funding and Awards.

In addition, a number of our research programmes publish comprehensive accounts of our musculoskeletal disorders research in the NIHR Journals Library.


The NIHR attracts, trains and supports the best researchers in musculoskeletal disorders to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future.

Our investment in people sustains excellent research capacity and expertise throughout clinical and non-clinical academic career pathways and provides high quality learning and development opportunities for the delivery workforce in our infrastructure.

Funding musculoskeletal disorders research careers

The NIHR Academy is responsible for the development and coordination of NIHR academic training, career development and research capacity development.

There is a wide range of NIHR training and career development awards available at different career stages, from pre-doctoral through to Research Professorships. These awards comprise both personal awards, which can be applied for directly with the NIHR, and institutional awards which should be applied for through the host institution.

Supporting the musculoskeletal disorders delivery workforce


The NIHR invests significantly in people, centres of excellence, collaborations, services and facilities to support health and care research in England. Collectively these form the world-class NIHR infrastructure.

This national research infrastructure is available to use by UKRI, research charities and the life sciences industry as well as NIHR researchers.

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) are collaborations between world-leading universities and NHS organisations that bring together academics and clinicians to translate lab-based scientific breakthroughs into potential new treatments, diagnostics and medical technologies.

The following BRCs undertake research in musculoskeletal disorders:

NIHR Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives

NIHR Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives (MICs) build expertise and capacity in the NHS to develop new medical technologies and provide evidence on commercially-supplied in vitro diagnostic tests.

The following MICs undertake research in musculoskeletal disorders:

NIHR Health Informatics Collaborative

The NIHR Health Informatics Collaborative (HIC) has been set up to deliver high quality data in key therapeutic areas and make NHS clinical data more readily available to researchers, industry and the NHS community.

Musculoskeletal disorders is one of the research themes of the HIC.

Collaborating with partners

The UK Musculoskeletal Translational Research Collaboration (UK MSK TRC) is a joint collaboration between the NIHR and Versus Arthritis, aligning investment in MSK translational research creating a UK-wide ambition and focus to drive cutting edge translational research in order to improve outcomes for patients.

NIHR Clinical Research Network

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) supports set up and delivery of clinical research in the NHS and in other health and care settings. Find out more about delivery of musculoskeletal research on the delivery tab.


The NIHR funds and supports world-class experts in musculoskeletal disorders.

In addition, our experts in the NIHR Clinical Research Network (National Specialty Leads) can advise on delivering your musculoskeletal disorders study in the NHS or in other health and social care settings.

National Specialty Leads

Professor Siôn Glyn-Jones and Dr Kirsten Mackay are the CRN National Specialty Co-Leads for musculoskeletal disorders.

Professor Glyn-Jones works as a Consultant Hip Surgeon in the Adult Hip and Knee Reconstruction Service at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and has specialist interests in the treatment of hip arthritis in the young patient and revision hip arthroplasty.

Dr Mackay works as a consultant rheumatologist at Torbay Hospital in South Devon. Her areas of research interest are Spondyloarthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, early inflammatory arthritis and biologic therapies. She has undertaken three years of research into the genetic susceptibility for Rheumatoid arthritis and also developed technology to help patients self-manage their conditions, recently winning a British Medical Association award for a rheumatology application she developed in 2018.

Research Professor

The NIHR Research Professorship is the flagship personal funding award for the NIHR. The scheme funds research leaders of the future to promote effective translation of research.

Dr Jonathan Jeffers, Reader in Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London, is an NIHR Research Professor.

Dr Jeffers research will improve the treatment options available for patients with early stage arthritis through improved joint biomechanics and using the latest additive manufacturing technology to create more bone-like materials for implants.

Public involvement

We engage with and involve patients, carers, service users and members of the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research in musculoskeletal disorders.

Have your say in research

We involve patients, carers, service users and members of the public in our national research funding and support activities, including in musculoskeletal disorders research.

The researchers we fund also involve patients in planning and delivering their musculoskeletal disorders research.

Involvement opportunities across the NIHR

Our Local Clinical Research Networks involve people in musculoskeletal disorders research taking place in your local area.

The NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre has established Patients Active in Research to involve patients with musculoskeletal diseases in its research. You could sign up to take part in focus groups, review summaries of research for the public, help to prepare information for patients, take part in studies and more.

The NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, which has a focus on musculoskeletal disorders, offers opportunities for members of the public, carers and patients to work alongside its research teams as research volunteers.

Take part research

Be Part of Research is an online service that lists opportunities to take part in musculoskeletal disorders research across the UK.