1) Fund fundamental research into the causes of back pain with a view to both reduce the impact on health and to develop innovative therapies for the future.
2) Disseminate the findings and implications of back pain research to key health professional groups and the general public in order to globally improve prevention and treatment of back pain.
3) Establish and raise awareness of DISCS as the leading UK funding organisation in the field of fundamental back pain research in the UK.
4) Develop partnerships with the research community and other funding bodies to broaden the charity’s reach.
To ensure that DISCS identifies and promotes innovative research at the leading edge of the field, it has established a new Research Committee. Its membership of eminent and respected researchers is currently:
Professor Donal McNally (Research Committee Chair)Professor Christine Le Maitre (DISCS Chair – Ex Officio)
Professor Anthony Freemont
Professor Sally Roberts
Professor Frances Williams
Professor Lisa Roberts
Dr Naffis Anjarwalla
Dr Rebecca Heming (New Investigator representative)
Dr Abbey Thorpe (New Investigator representative)
Patient representative (to be recruited).
Strategic aim 1: Fund Research
Fund fundamental research into the causes of back pain with a view to both reducing the impact on health and to developing innovative therapies for the future.
DISCS will fund research which addresses the following key areas:
1) Public Health and Economics of Back Pain within the UK.
This theme includes research into the impact of back pain on the person and the economy, on public health prevention methods and behavioural changes to prevent (or live well with) back pain. This theme also incorporates research addressing how to prevent the transition from acute to chronic back pain.
2) Informative diagnosis which can be used to target therapies
A key shortcoming in the current treatment in back pain is poor stratification and identification of the specific causes of pain. This hampers treatment of patients. This theme aims to improve stratification of patients and improve diagnostic methodologies to better diagnose the source and cause of pain.
3) Address the question: Where does back pain come from?
Back pain is believed to arise from a number of tissue sites within the spine and include disease/damage to the nerves, intervertebral disc, muscles, ligaments, bones and facet joints. This theme focuses on improving understanding of the relevant physiology and pathology of these tissues and their individual contributions to back pain.
Interest is focused on genomics, proteomics and metabolomics, neuropathology of pain, fundamental cell biology, biomechanics and pathology of these tissues to develop a sound understanding of where the pain comes from. This will provide a sound background upon which new treatments can be developed and existing treatments improved.
4) Address the question: How can we improve treatment?
Currently, treatment is available for back pain caused by some specific known causes. However the large majority of sufferers are left in pain for years because treatment does not exist or patients are poorly assessed.
A key area that this theme addresses the development of new therapies. This has the potential to create a paradigm shift in the treatment of back pain for patients who currently have no rational therapy (the so called ‘non-specific back pain’ group).
Appropriate measures of success and cost effectiveness of current and new interventions and the important question of efficacy which is lacking in many treatment groups. This too is a key topic within this theme
DISCS will assess grant applications with regard to the quality of the project, the person and the research location, whilst supporting retention of excellent researchers in the field. DISCS is keen to support collaborative working, new investigators and interdisciplinary approaches.
Research funding will be focused on two main pathways:
1) PhD studentships with a maximum overall funding level of £100,000 per student over 4 years.
2) Pump priming grants with a maximum funding level of £20,000 (the charity’s aim is to fund 5 projects within the 1st year).
We are currently raising important funds to enable a competitive research funding call.
Details to follow.
Strategic aim 2: Dissemination Activities:
Disseminate the findings and implications of back pain research to key health professional groups and the general public in order to globally improve prevention and treatment of back pain.
To achieve this important aim DISCS will:
Hold the annual Harry Crock Lecture as a high profile public lecture.
Support presentation of research, particularly from new investigators, to professional groups and the general public through collaboration with other professional bodies such as the Society for Back Pain Research (SBPR).
Strategic aim 3&4: Raise the profile of DISCS and develop partnerships
Establish and raise awareness of DISCS as the leading UK funding organisation in the field of fundamental back pain research.
Develop partnerships with the research community and other funding bodies to broaden the charity’s reach.