The role of the rheumatologist has never been more important: Arthritis Research UK’s the ‘State of Musculoskeletal Health 2017’ reports that over 400,000 people in the UK have rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and that the cost of RA to the UK economy is estimated at £3.8-4.8 billion.

With this in mind, the Universities of Birmingham and Oxford have come together to accelerate discovery in this important area.

Birmingham and Oxford alliance

An alliance can be defined as ‘a relationship formed between organisations for a joint purpose’. It is entirely fitting, then, that the pioneering rheumatology research being led by the Universities of Birmingham and Oxford with seven NHS partners has colloquially become known as ‘the M40 alliance’.

A year after the Arthritis Therapy Acceleration Programme (A-TAP) was launched in December 2016, supported by a £7 million investment from the Kennedy Trust for Rheumatology Research, it is growing from strength to strength, laying the foundations ready to start delivering outcomes.