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Launch of the Arthritis Research UK/MRC Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work

Dame Carol Black at Centre launch

The official launch of the new Arthritis Research UK/MRC Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work

Last Tuesday (February 17th 2015) saw the official launch of the new Arthritis Research UK/MRC Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work. The vision of the funders was to respond to Professor Dame Carol Black’s key challenges from ‘Working for a Healthier Tomorrow’.  In her report, she recommended that the government should urgently take steps to create and strengthen the academic base in the UK and start to systematically collect high-quality data about health and work. In the absence of government resource, the Arthritis Research UK charity, in partnership with the Medical Research Council, decided to take the initiative and realise her vision with funding of £1.4 million over 5 years. This Centre will tackle research into musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and work, one of the top two causes of workplace disability.

MSDs are common. This is a very large group of conditions, consisting of milder ‘everyday’ conditions such as tennis elbow (epicondylitis), shoulder pain, back pain through to much more disabling long-term chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and lupus. Numerically, many more working days are lost to the ‘pain’ conditions simply because so many more people experience these symptoms but for individuals, the chances of developing work disability are far greater if you are unlucky enough to have a diagnosis of e.g. rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. By far the most common form of arthritis worldwide is osteoarthritis, often dismissively regarded as an inevitable part of the ageing process, but a very common cause of pain and disability traditionally neglected by researchers. There is now growing recognition of the impact of osteoarthritis in terms of pain and disability and impaired quality of life, each of which will impact increasingly on society as we are all required to work to older ages. With this recognition, more research is being done to try and understand the mechanisms underlying osteoarthritis and identify ways to prevent and treat as well as reduce the impact of this condition.

The consortium are led from Southampton by Prof David Coggon (Director) and Dr Karen Walker-Bone (Deputy Director)

The consortium are led from Southampton by Prof David Coggon (Director) and Dr Karen Walker-Bone (Deputy Director)

The successful Consortium are led from Southampton by Prof David Coggon (Director) and myself (Deputy Director) working with 40 scientists from 20 institutions. Our plans are to use the resource mainly for junior research posts (8 PhD studentships and 2 post-doctoral fellowships). We will research four broad themes: regional pain (including low back pain); inflammatory arthritis; return to work after surgery for osteoarthritis and the older worker. More than 10 different projects are planned altogether with the common aim of reducing workplace disability from MSDs in a cost-effective way. There is much work to do: researchers have not been habitually measuring the impact of MSDs on work disability and there is a considerable amount of interaction to do with stakeholders, including employers and policy-makers.

For more information about the Centre and the specific projects, the website is: http://www.mrc.soton.ac.uk/cmhw/
The Centre are keen to engage with employers, employees, people with MSDs, trades unions and any other stakeholders and is receptive to ideas for research.

Dr Karen Walker-Bone
Deputy Director Arthritis Research UK/MRC Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work

The consortium - Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work

The consortium - Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work

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This entry was posted on Monday, March 2nd, 2015 at 13:26 and is filed under MSDs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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