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Advanced Pain Discovery Platform (APDP)

Chronic pain is a major unmet global public health challenge and a significant priority not only for people living with primary chronic pain conditions which cause significant disability, such as fibromyalgia, back pain and headaches/migraines, but also for people living with long-term conditions including arthritis, cancer, diabetes and  dementia, as well as for their families and carers. To help address this challenge, a multidisciplinary approach is needed that will lead to a better understanding of mechanisms of pain and improved treatments that will ultimately improve the lives of people living with pain conditions and their families.

The Advanced Pain Discovery Platform (APDP)

The Advanced Pain Discovery Platform (APDP) is a 5 year, £24M initiative funded through the Government’s Strategic Priorities Fund and delivered in partnership through MRC, ESRC, BBSRC, Versus Arthritis and Eli Lilly.

The APDP aims  to deliver a consortium- based platform of national scale, generating discovery and early translational science that will break through the complexity of pain and reveal new treatment approaches to address a wide spectrum of chronic and debilitating clinical conditions. The APDP will provide new knowledge about the significant variation and unpredictability that exists in the lived experience of pain and uncover shared mechanisms, breaking down inconsistencies in diagnosis and treatment, providing new pain biomarkers and identify and validate new therapeutic interventions.

The APDP is being delivered through four interlinked activities:

The 4 Phase Project Approach to the Advanced Pain Discovery Platform: Consortia set-up and data generation; Mapping pain complexity and uncovering the molecular and cellular basis of pain; Bioinformatics, artificial intelligence and machine learning: building a network level data library; Online open data platform
  • Multidisciplinary consortia
    Multidisciplinary consortia will be established that will link together researchers across the breadth of biomedical, social, informatics and data sciences. This will build the foundation of a national-scale programme supporting discovery and translational science that will bring together leadership, tools and resources to help unravel the complexity of pain, driving new treatment development.
  • Online open data platform
    An online open access data platform will be established to provide a key resource for the national and international pain communities.
  • Mapping pain complexity and uncovering the molecular & cellular basis of pain
    We will expand the capabilities established through the consortia by supporting additional research programmes aimed at generating critical new knowledge in mapping the complexity of pain.
  • Bioinformatics, AI and machine learning
    Bioinformatics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will be used to create a comprehensive cellular, systems and network library for chronic pain.

APDP Partners

Advanced Pain Discovery Platform

Calls for funding
Engagement Activities
Frequently Asked Questions
Contact the APDP Team
Useful links


Programme Director

Professor David Walsh
Professor David Walsh

Professor David Walsh 

As Director of the Advanced Pain Discovery Platform, Professor Walsh will drive its successful implementation and integration into the wider landscape through collaborative approaches and execution of the strategy, maximising the portfolios’ overall research excellence and real-world impact.

MRC Director Announcement

APDP’s partner, Versus Arthritis, recently released a blog which focusses on the APDP programme and its Director, Professor David Walsh. Please visit the Versus Arthritis website to read the interview.

If you would like to contact Professor Walsh in regards to the APDP please email David Walsh.

Executive Board

The Executive Board has responsibility for directing the ADPD programme, and is comprised of members from the funding partners. The Executive Board ensures the efficient delivery and monitoring of the APDP progress.

International Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB)

The APDP International Scientific Advisory Board support the Executive Board by providing expert insight. Our expert board members augment the knowledge, understanding and strategic thinking of the Executive Board and Programme Team.

ISAB Members

Professor Andrew Carr

University of Oxford

Professor Andrew Horne

University of Edinburgh

Dr Andrew Roddam

Early Disease Detection Research Project UK Ltd

Professor Bridget Lumb

University of Bristol

Colin Wilkinson

Patient Representative

Professor Francis Keefe

Duke University

Jenny Camaradou

Patient Representative

Professor Lars Arendt – Nielsen

Aalborg University

Professor Lesley Colvin

University of Dundee

Professor Maria Fitzgerald

University College London

Calls for funding

Investments will be made through calls for funding, all opportunities will be announced on the MRC website.

Calls Planned

May 2020

Consortia Expression of Interest Call - Open

To download a proforma of the EOI form please click here. To complete and submit your EOI application please click here.

September 2020

Consortia Full Application Call (invite only) – Future Call

Engagement Activities

Throughout the programme there will be a number of workshops and webinars to share information about the programme, bring the community together and support calls for funding.

Engagement activities will be open to all those interested in attending, including academic researchers, third sector organisations, industry, patients and the public, unless otherwise stated.

Slides and/or videos from these events will added here once they have taken place.

If you would like to be kept informed about these events, please email SPFPain@MRC.UKRI.org.

June 2020 - APDP Introductory Webinar

If you would like a transcript of the above video please contact us.

Webinar Slides

Frequently Asked Questions

Additional information

We would encourage all medical questions to be directed to your GP. Versus Arthritis have got information about support for those living with chronic pain, which can be found at www.versusarthritis.org.

Contact the APDP Team

For any queries or if you would like to be added to the APDP mailing list, please contact SPFPain@MRC.UKRI.org.

Useful links