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We are an ageing population, with birth rate falling and life expectancy increasing. One person now turns 65 every 41 seconds in the UK, and one in three children born today can expect to live to 100 years of age.

Our research

Crucially there is very good evidence that healthy life expectancy has not kept pace with increasing life expectancy. We can now expect to spend the last decade of life in ill health. We are focused on establishing better understanding of the mechanisms of musculoskeletal ageing and accelerated structural and pain progression to age related pathologies, and their impact on human health and chronic disease progression.

Age-related musculoskeletal decline is a significant contributor to this reduced health and quality of life in old age and has major public health consequences. These include increased direct risk of falls and fracture (hip), muscle wasting, insulin resistance, osteoarthritis and pain, and longer rehabilitation following injury or surgery. 

It is becoming recognised that lifestyle factors such as poor nutrition and the global adoption of a less physically active lifestyle plays a central role in accelerating musculoskeletal decline with age.  Importantly, prevalence of chronic pain in older people has been estimated as between 25% and 76%, and in residential care as high as 83% and 93%, of which musculoskeletal pain represents the great majority.

Our impact

The University of Nottingham, with its partners, aims to exploit and fill the current knowledge gap by creating a unifying research priority area focused on musculoskeletal health in ageing and wellbeing that integrates across schools, research centres and institutional research boundaries.

To achieve this we provide:

  • day-to-day interaction between applied health researchers and basic and clinical scientists working in the area of musculoskeletal health decline and pain
  • development and integration of animal (small and large) and human musculoskeletal metabolic and physiological function testing facilities
  • development of emerging analytical technologies including:
    • magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy directed at the musculoskeletal system and brain
    • stable isotope tracer quantification of musculoskeletal tissue turnover and biomarkers of adaptation
    • genomics
    • metabolomics
  • collaboration between a comprehensive range of applied health and clinical research expertise to ensure holistic approaches, including medical and surgical specialities, pharmacy, psychology, radiology and physical/exercise therapies directed towards the musculoskeletal system
  • a Centre for Doctoral Training, increasing the numbers of highly skilled, multidisciplinary scientists and building research capacity in this important area of healthcare and biomedical research.

Our University

Underpinned by major research successes, which have made possible pioneering work at the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis, Arthritis Research UK Pain Centre, Medical Research Council/ Arthritis Research UK Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research and the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre, our vision is to build on our major individual successes to establish an international centre of translational research excellence in musculoskeletal health in ageing and wellbeing.

Research Centres, Groups and Institutes


World-class research at the University of Nottingham

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+44 (0) 115 951 5151

Athena Swan Silver Award