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Following the outputs from the initial Network Focus Meeting (15th-16th May 2017), Theme Leaders submitted proposals for activities and projects. After focused revisions, and the addition of timelines and costings, a research forum meeting was held in February 2018 to present the final proposals. A decision on funded activities was made for 2018/19. Updates from these activities and research projects will be posted on this website (and communicated via the partner mailing list), according to the timeline proposed by each Theme Leader. Examples include: subject specific focus meetings, sandpit meetings, development of consensus statements, hackathons, scoping studies, engagement events and pump priming projects. Opportunities will be made available to all Network Partners. Non-partners can also register their interest in being involved. Please contact Prof Cathy Holt for further information.

 

Awarded Research Projects:
 
Awarded pump primming projects: biomechanics and mechanobiology theme

After receiving 12 applications and going through a peer-review process, 8 projects were awarded funding (up to 10K).

  • Project No. 4: Micromechanics in Cartilage Matrix: a new Perspective on Functionality. Junning Chen
  • Project No. 9: Hedgehog signalling in ligamentocytes: the role of mechanical loading. Mandy Peffers
  • Project No. 5: Supine versus upright MRI: comparison of tissue in normal and OA knees. Philip Conaghan
  • Project No. 7: Mechanical stimulation re-sets the biological clock within cartilage to align to diurnal patterns in activity. David Lee
  • Project No. 12: Effect of obesity on the mechanical properties of end stage osteoarthritic bone at multiple length scales. Robert Wallace
  • Project No. 3: Determining 3D kinematics of the talus during normal walking using video fluoroscopy: A pilot study. Claire Brockett
  • Project No. 10: Using 3D Trabecular Architecture as a Biomarker to Identify and Monitor Osteoarthritis of the Knee. Andrew Pitsillides
  • Project No. 11. Development of a synovium-chondrocyte organ-on-a-chip model with integrated biomechanical stimulation. Hazel Screen 
 
Focus meeting: Novel and experimental Technology Theme 

A Focus Meeting was held at the Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry as part of the OATech+ Network programme of events (30th April – 1st May 2018) to explore OA stratification from a multi-disciplinary approach. A Delphi study was incorporated into the meeting, and a further meeting is being organised to prepare and present the findings as a consensus paper.

The results of this meeting have since been published in the Osteoarthritis and Cartilage Journal, ‘The use of technology in the subcategorisation of osteoarthritis‘ (Mennan et al., 2020). For more information on these results, please contact Prof Sally Roberts. 

 
sandpit meeting: Novel and experimental Technology Theme 

A two-day sandpit was held on the 19th-20th November 2018 in Oswestry. Two awards were made (up to 15K), subject to the submission of full project proposals and costings. The deadline for the full proposal submission was the 31st January 2019.

  • An award has been made to the MRI Fans group (David Williams et al). The group will undertake a project entitled Development of a quantitative MRI phantom for knee tissue commencing September 2019.
  • An award was also made to the We don’t care how much it hurts (but we do care about nociception) group (Debbie Mason and David Hamilton). This project will commence in January 2019 and explore the use of sensors as objective measures of nociception.

Both these projects have undergone delays due to the Covid-19 restrictions. They have been extended and are currently ongoing. 

 
Focus meeting: OA stratification and clinical application theme

A one-day focus meeting was held at St George’s University, London to discuss OA stratification, and the work undertaken in the “Developing Tools for Patient Stratification in Osteoarthritis” project led by Prof Nidhi Sofat. Notes from the meeting can be found here. 

This focus meeting helped to define the research questions for the project and has now been completed and published as systematic review and meta-analysis. This has been published in the BMJ Open, ‘Risk factors for pain and functional impairment in people with knee and hip osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis’ (Sandhar et al., 2020). 

 
Alan Turing Institute collaboration: Data analysis technology theme

After a funding call for data sets and application challenges, a half-day meeting (14th January 2019) was held to discuss sharing of biomechanical data sets across institutions.  The OATech+ Network is planning to submitted an expression of interest to the Alan Turing Institute (www.turing.ac.uk) to participate in one of their new Data Study Events planned for this year. A Data Study Event is similar to a ‘hackathon’ in that organisations are invited to provide large datasets and a ‘challenge’ to the ATI. Data Scientists (approx. 20) will then spend 5-days working on the challenge to develop a data driven solution.  

Following from the completion of the OA Dataset Scoping Project led by Dr Mark Elliot, a collaborating research project proposal between the Alan Turing Institute and the OATech+ Network is being formulated. This project plans to initiate an OA biomechanics data repository and work alongside data scientists to analyse biomechanical markers within OA disease progression.  

 
Modelathon: modelling technology theme

Collaborating with MultiSim (multisim-insigneo.org) and the University of Sheffield, a four-day training event was held for early stage and early career researchers in Computation Medicine and related fields. Based on the similar concept of a ‘hackathon’, this event used computational models and simulations to address authentic research questions. The theme of this modelathon was, ‘the optimisation of interventions for osteoarthritis patients with multi-scale modelling’. Day 1 introduced the research field challenges with presentations from Prof Cathy Holt, Prof Claudia Mazza, Prof Richie Gill, Prof Andrew Pitsillides and Dr Shannon Li. After two days of focussing on modelling challenges, the teams presented their findings and were awarded a prize. No publications resulted as this was a training event, however a full report and website article have been provided. 

 

Sandpit meeting: Alignment of discovery science to OA human disease 

After a preliminary meeting held alongside BORS 2020, OA research development gaps were identified themes were identified (pain, OA definitions and subgrouping, clinical trials) and used as theme groups for the sandpit. An online two-day sandpit meeting was held on 26th-27th November 2020 to use interdisciplinary research discussions to address these gaps. After idea generation, presentations and group feedback, follow up meetings have been organised to progress these ideas further. 

 

ECR opportunities: Next generation of OATech leaders theme

The following ECR work placements were awarded up to 3K to support work from 1 week to 3 months for ECRs to further their career opportunities. 

  • December 2018. A funded placement award was made to Jake Bowd. Jake undertook a month-long work placement at KU Leuven in the Summer of 2019.
  • March 2019. An award was made to Eva Herbst. Eva undertook a placement with Prof Andrew Pitsillides at RVC from October 2019.
  • May 2019. Alex Sehgal was awarded a funded placement with Prof Cathy Holt, Cardiff University, which was undertaken in May-June 2019.
  • August 2020. Humaira Mahmood was awarded a funded placement with Prof Prof Andrew Pitsillides, RVC and Prof Philip Rowe, University of Strathclyde. This was undertaken between August – October 2020. 

For further information on opportunities visit the page below or contact theme lead Prof Jim Richards:

ECR Opportunities Page

 

Other opportunities:

November 2018. Dr Ben Sherlock secured funding to visit Prof. Gordon Wallace, University of Wollongong, Australia. Ben undertook his visit in February 2019. Click on the link to read Ben’s report.

Biomechanics and Mechanobiology Pump-priming Projects

After receiving 12 applications, and going through a peer-review process, we are pleased to announce that 8 projects have been awarded funding. Project No. 4: Micromechanics in Cartilage Matrix: a new Perspective on Functionality. Junning Chen Project No. 9: Hedgehog signalling in ligamentocytes: the role of mechanical loading. Mandy Peffers Project No. 5: Supine versus upright MRI: comparison of tissue in normal and OA knees. Philip Conaghan Project No. 7: Mechanical stimulation re-sets the biological clock within cartilage to align to diurnal patterns in activity. David Lee Project No. 12: Effect of obesity on the mechanical properties of end stage osteoarthritic bone at multiple length scales. Robert Wallace Project No. 3: Determining 3D kinematics of the talus during normal walking using video fluoroscopy: A pilot study. Claire Brockett Project No. 10: Using 3D Trabecular Architecture as a Biomarker to Identify and Monitor Osteoarthritis of the Knee. Andrew Pitsillides Project No. 11. Development of a synovium-chondrocyte organ-on-a-chip model with integrated biomechanical stimulation. Hazel Screen    

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