Oliver Bird Fund

First established in 1948, the Oliver Bird Fund was bequethed by Captain Oliver Bird to specifically invest in rheumatic disease research. Over the next 10 years the Oliver Bird Fund will dedicate up to £12.5 million on research into musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions, with up to £6.25 million to be awarded over the first five years. Applications for the first round of funding will open in winter 2018.

The fund will support interdisciplinary research spanning biomedical and social sciences disciplines with an emphasis on understanding the health and well-being of people living with musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions. In particular, research funded by the Oliver Bird Fund will aim to:

  1. Improve understanding of the social, economic and other causes of MSK and related chronic illnesses for individuals’ health and social wellbeing across the life-course and consequences for peoples’ active participation in society.
  2. Identify the potential for development of novel protective and preventive interventions in order to reduce health and social wellbeing equity gaps.
  3. Develop and enhance innovative approaches to improving evidence on MSK through investment in data analytics and related areas (e.g., informatics).
  4. Bridge biomedical and social sciences and encourage closer collaboration with stakeholders to increase the likelihood of research evidence informing practice and policy.
  5. Identify how health, social care and other data can be effectively integrated and subsequently assess the feasibility of scaling nationally to provide the basis for a novel biomedical/social MSK consortium to further health and social wellbeing equity research.

During the next five years, the Oliver Bird Fund will fund projects designed to better understand the nature, scale and impact of MSK conditions, across three programmes of research. We are particular pleased and fortunate to be partnering with Arthritis Research UK, who have provided thought-leadership and will co-fund the local data integration pilots (see below).

Programme 1 – Secondary analysis of existing data

Research studies supported by this programme will interrogate existing longitudinal survey and administrative data to better understand: the bio/social/economic determinants of MSK conditions; the relationship with co-morbidity and outcomes; and consequences for lived experience. Applicants may wish to leverage cohort studies with biomarkers to exploit the rich and unique data resources available in the UK.

Programme 2 – Local data integration pilots (in partnership with Arthritis Research UK)

We will support the establishment of local data integration pilot programmes comprised of an interrelated suite of research studies on MSK and integration of local clinical data (e.g. GP, hospital), social care and community services data (e.g. Community Services Data Set) and other data sources (e.g. patient-report outcome measures) in one or a few localities as pilots to provide a more comprehensive understanding of MSK within defined local populations. These pilots will enhance our understanding of those with MSK conditions, how the core needs can best be met and how to develop a novel MSK data infrastructure.

Programme 3 – Responsive proposals on MSK

Applicants will be encouraged to think innovatively beyond the two areas above and may submit responsive proposals for interdisciplinary biomedical/social science in the area of MSK conditions.

Applicants will also be encouraged to consider the feasibility of a large-scale research proposal which covers the scope of Programme 1 and Programme 2; however this is not a requirement.

Further information

To find out more about the Oliver Bird Fund and upcoming application process, please contact, oliverbird@nuffieldfoundation.org