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Keele University celebrated a 10-year collaboration with Versus Arthritis last week, welcoming over 180 guests to reflect on their accomplishments over the last decade.

Over 17.8 million people in the UK have arthritis or a musculoskeletal condition, many of whom are in pain every day. This figure is expected to grow, and is also having an impact on healthcare systems. As a response, Versus Arthritis have been investing in research to help transform the way care is delivered and improve the lives of people living with these conditions.  

In 2008, Keele University’s Research Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences hosts the charity’s first ‘Centre of Excellence’, and provided the University with pivotal funding and collaborative opportunities which has supported exceptional patient-centred research and helped to develop future research leaders.    

A decade later, the Centre is now recognised as a national and international leader of multidisciplinary research into the causes, course, consequences and treatment of musculoskeletal pain and arthritis.

The event, which took place on Tuesday 18th June 2019 at Keele Hall brought together guests from various backgrounds and sectors who have played a key role with this pioneering research over the last ten years. 

The university were delighted to welcome guest speakers, Dr Louise Wood CBE (Director of Science, Research and Evidence at the National Institute for Health Research’s Department of Health and Social Care), and Professor Richard Hobbs (Head of the Nuffield Department of Primary Care and Health Sciences and Director of the National Institute for Health Research’s School for Primary Care Research), who highlighted the importance of research collaboration, and their hopes for the future directions of research within the field of primary care.

The event was a much needed celebration of the importance of patients and the public in shaping research and helping ensure its implementation into practice, as well as highlighting the Centre’s key research innovations, such as the Keele STarT Back tool which has helped transform treatment for low back pain across the globe.

To bring the event to a close, guests heard from the Research Institute’s Director, Professor Christian Mallen, the CEO of Versus Arthritis, Dr Liam O’Toole, and Keele University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Trevor Macmillan, who all shared their visions for the future of primary care research. 

Reflecting on the event, Professor Christian Mallen, Director of Keele University’s Research Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences said: “We’re so proud of what we’ve accomplished through this collaboration over the last ten years. The success of this collaboration though, could not have been achieved without the wonderful partnerships we have enjoyed with our NHS partners and local population who have given their time to engage in our research programmes.

“Today has given us just a flavour of the huge outputs that our work has delivered, and we look forward to continuing to build on this legacy, with the overall aim to achieve measurable beneficial impact on the health and care of musculoskeletal pain and arthritis for individuals, their families and the wider society.”

Dr Stephen Simpson, Director of Research at Versus Arthritis commented: “The charity sector is a very significant contributor to medical research and health research funding, and while the universities are where the research is being executed, there is a real opportunity for charities and their patient-led agendas to help sustain a very different and vibrant approach to research.”

CEO of Versus Arthritis, Dr Liam O’Toole added: “Today has been a fantastic celebration of a really successful partnership, not just between the charity and the university, but with key funders and collaborators as well. I’d like to just congratulate everyone on their hard work, commitment and dedication to making the centre the place it is, and I have no doubt that they will continue to play a key role in improving the lives of people living with arthritis as we go from strength to strength.”