Arthritis Research UK Medical Research Council

Phase 2

We have been awarded five further years of funding to continue our work. Our first phase of funding offered CIMA scientists the opportunity to identify epigenetic changes to cells. It appears that these changes play a vital role in whether muscles, bones and joint tissues decline quickly or slowly as we age. 

During the next phase, CIMA will seek to characterise the importance of these changes and to establish whether we can modify them, in order to reduce risks of muscle, bone and joint problems. We will also look more closely at whether nutrition and exercise can prevent or reduce the risk of these problems. 

In addition, we plan to expand our training programme, so that more scientists and doctors can carry out high quality research to address the challenges of musculoskeletal ageing. 

Phase 2 objectives

1. Determining the role of epigenetic changes in ageing

To determine the epigenetic changes in the musculoskeletal system that occur with ageing, how these changes influence the risk of musculoskeletal disorders, the effect of modification of age-related epigenetic changes on musculoskeletal function and the effect of lifestyle changes on age-related epigenetic marks and molecules.

2. Studying the effects of different interventions in the ageing process
To design and implement a series of studies to examine the effect of interventions based on physical activity, nutrition, anti-inflammatory or age-retarding agents on age-related decline of the musculoskeletal system. This will encompass experimental medicine studies, pre-clinical studies and population studies. 

3. Extending the CIMA training programme
To extend the CIMA training programme to increase PhD and clinical fellow training, and further develop the joint MRes in Musculoskeletal Ageing to deliver this training to students from a wider range of backgrounds who can bring additional skills to this research area.

4. Developing CIMA’s impact
To develop the engagement and impact-generating activities of CIMA to increase involvement of patients with musculoskeletal disorders and representatives of the older population in the development and evaluation of our research strategy; and to work with potential partners to maximise translation and widespread application of our research.

5. Building a robust evidence base
To build a robust evidence base that will enable CIMA to inform and influence public health policy, contribute to international research strategies and advise industrial partners.