Centre for Musculoskeletal Research
Musculoskeletal diseases account for nearly one third of disabilities in the UK.
As one of the most successful musculoskeletal research groups in the UK, our aim is to invest in research to improve the lives of patients with musculoskeletal conditions, including inflammatory arthritis, connective tissue disease, osteoarthritis and pain and our studies include both adults and children.
Led by Professor Anne Barton, more than 100 members of academic and support staff are working to find the causes and consequences of musculoskeletal conditions as well as better ways to treat them.
For public and patients
Patients are at the very heart of our research.
We have an established patient representative group (RUG) who regularly provide feedback on research applications and ideas.
Have your say on musculoskeletal research.
Are you someone who has a musculoskeletal condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, fibromyalgia or lupus?
Are you a carer for someone with a musculoskeletal condition?
Influence world-leading research from the comfort of your own home by joining our online research user group.
For more information, email:
We provide lay summaries of all of our research outputs on the Musculoskeletal research findings website.
Summaries are available for the following conditions:
Centres and registries
Centre for Genetics and Genomics Versus Arthritis
Using genetic studies, we investigate the genes that increase the risk of developing disease. Our functional genomics work is leading the way in understanding how these genes lead to disease.
Centre for Epidemiology Versus Arthritis
We are addressing clinically important questions in musculoskeletal disease that require a robust epidemiological approach, delivering results to improve the quality of life for people living with arthritis.
Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC)
The musculoskeletal theme of the BRC covers inflammatory arthritis, childhood arthritis, connective tissue diseases and degenerative joint diseases. We focus on using biomarkers to help predict outcomes and personalisation of treatment.
Cochrane Bone, Joint and Muscle Trauma Group
We host the editorial base of the Cochrane Bone, Joint and Muscle Trauma Group, which produces systematic reviews of interventions for the prevention and treatment of fractures and soft-tissue injuries.
The BSRBR-RA study monitors the long-term safety of biologic and other targeted therapies prescribed to people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
The BILAG Biologics Register (BILAG BR) is looking at the safety and effectiveness of biologic and biosimilar treatment for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Projects and resources
We work on a number of interdisciplinary projects that cut across our funding streams.
The aim of MATURA is to find and develop tests that will allow better targeting of the available treatments to those who would benefit most, thereby improving the selection of the best treatment for individual patients.
CAPS aims to identify the predictors of short-term and long-term outcome following presentation with childhood-onset inflammatory arthritis.
We also aim to identify the relative contributions of socio-demographic, clinical, psychological, laboratory and genetic factors and treatment in explaining outcome.
The BRAGGSS study collects data from patients receiving biologic therapy to evaluate the role of genetic variation, psychological status, clinical variables, serological measures and environmental factors in determining response to treatment.
Dr Gisela Orozco has been awarded a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship. Her project aims to functionally characterize rheumatoid arthritis risk loci to identify causal genes and pathways, with the goal of translating GWAS findings into biological disease mechanisms and suggesting therapeutic targets.
A national smartphone study to investigate the link between weather and pain. 13,000 adults with long-term pain reported daily symptoms alongside local weather data captured using their phone’s GPS. The public can interact with the data and submit their hypotheses. Funder: Versus Arthritis.
NOAR is a register of people with different types of inflammatory arthritis (IP). It is the world’s first true primary care-based cohort study of new cases of IP. Since 1990 more than 4,500 patients have been recruited. Funder: Versus Arthritis
Participants wear an actigraphy monitor for 30 days to assess their sleep patterns and self-report via a mobile app to determine the contributions of sleep and circadian parameters, pain, fatigue and mood to quality of life. Funder: Versus Arthritis.
BSRBR-RA is one of the largest prospective studies of rheumatoid arthritis patients receiving biologic/biosimilar drugs in the world. It aims to monitor the long-term safety of these drugs. It is a unique collaboration between the University, the BSR and the pharmaceutical industry.
Resources to download
Ann Rheum Dis / Factors associated with damage accrual in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.
Am J Hum Genet / Immunochip analysis identifies multiple susceptibility loci for systemic sclerosis.
Nat Commun / Dense genotyping of immune-related susceptibility loci reveals new insights into the genetics of psoriatic arthritis.
Nat Commun / Capture Hi-C reveals novel candidate genes and complex long-range interactions with related autoimmune risk loci.
J Bone Miner Res / A meta-analysis of the association of fracture risk and body mass index in women.
JAMA / Association of HLA-DRB1 haplotypes with rheumatoid arthritis severity, mortality, and treatment response.
Study and research opportunities
Develop your career in musculoskeletal research or clinical rheumatology in a centre of research excellence. We’re committed to training future scientists and clinicians in the latest research and clinical techniques.
Our taught courses are informed by our research and offer the perfect platform to progress your career in medicine.
We offer clinical training in rheumatology and experimental medicine for qualified medics and other health professionals.
We have a strong track record of postgraduate research supervision, with all graduates securing further employment in education or industry.
The Centre is currently home to 27 PhD students.
Find out more about our PhD programme, or view available projects and studentships.
The Centre is home to 29 active researchers, including two NIHR senior investigators.
Our interdisciplinary expertise ranges from basic genetics to digital epidemiology and experimental medicine.
We also have excellent clinical links, with seven of our senior researchers also working as clinicians in NHS Trusts.
Clinical and research fellows are active in the Centre, including fellows funded by Wellcome Trust and MRC. We offer a supportive environment for early career researchers, including help to apply for fellowships. Every month we encourage our researchers to present their ideas to senior staff to get valuable feedback.