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Musculoskeletal diseases account for nearly one third of disabilities in the UK. What causes these conditions? How can we treat them and how can we target the right drugs to the right patients? And, can we also develop new therapies to treat diseases where few treatment options are currently available?

As one of the strongest musculoskeletal research groups in the UK, we aim to understand the causes and consequences of musculoskeletal diseases in order to better target available treatments to those patients most likely to benefit, and to develop new therapies.

Genetics and genomics

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.


Our digital studies, which use smartphones, wearable devices and apps to track patients’ symptoms, are at the forefront of epidemiological research. They seek to identify the environmental risk factors that trigger the conditions.

A large programme of work in pharmacoepidemiology focuses on predicting and preventing side effects of drugs. While our precision medicine work identifies factors that predict which drugs will work best in which patients.

Drug effectiveness and safety

Our research into patients on biologic therapies leads the way internationally, and has informed the development of treatment guidelines through two NICE technology appraisals.

Our clinical trials programme tests therapies (including non-drug treatments)to improve management of patients in the clinic.

We have excellent clinical links, with seven of our senior researchers also working as clinicians in NHS Trusts.

Award successes

We attract grant income in excess of £5m per year.

In April 2017 we were awarded the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre award – Musculoskeletal Theme.

Since 2013 we have been home to two Versus Arthritis (formerly known as Arthritis Research UK) centres of excellence:

We were also awarded EULAR Centre of Excellence 2016-2021.

Other Inflammation medicine research activity