Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Advanced pain discovery platform (APDP)

The aim of this programme is to deliver a consortium-based platform of national scale that will break through the complexity of pain and reveal new treatment approaches to address a wide spectrum of chronic and debilitating clinical conditions.

£24 million
This is a five-year initiative
Partners involved:
Medical Research Council (MRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Versus Arthritis, Eli Lilly

The scope and what we're doing

The Advanced Pain Discovery Platform (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. It will uncover shared mechanisms, breaking down inconsistencies in diagnosis and treatment, providing new pain biomarkers and identifying and validating new therapeutic interventions.

The initiative is funded through the government’s Strategic Priorities Fund and is being delivered through four interlinked activities:

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 for a national programme supporting discovery and translational science.

This programme will drive the development of new treatments by bringing together leadership, tools and resources to help unravel the complexity of pain.

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 and 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, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning

Bioinformatics, AI and machine learning will be used to create a comprehensive cellular, systems and network library for chronic pain.

Why we're doing it

Chronic pain is a major unmet global public health challenge. It is a significant priority not only for people living with primary chronic pain conditions which cause significant disability, such as fibromyalgia, back pain and headaches or migraines, but also for people living with long-term conditions including arthritis, cancer, diabetes and dementia, and 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. This approach will ultimately improve the lives of people living with pain conditions and their families.

Who to contact

Ask a question about the programme


Governance, management and panels


Programme Director

As Director of the Advanced Pain Discovery Platform, Professor David Walsh will drive its successful implementation and integrate it into the wider landscape by taking a collaborative approach, executing the strategy, and maximising the portfolios’ research excellence and real-world impact.

Executive board

The executive board is responsible for directing the ADPD programme, and comprises members from the funding partners. The executive board ensures the efficient delivery and monitoring of the APDP progress.

International scientific advisory board

The international scientific advisory board supports 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

Current members:

  • Professor Andrew Carr, University of Oxford
  • 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

NOTE Council web content is being transitioned to this website – let us know if you have feedback or would like to help us test new developments.