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 potential 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, Medical Research Foundation

The scope and what we're doing

The APDP aims to deliver a UK platform, generating discovery and early translational science that will break through the complexity of pain and reveal potential 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 APDP will connect researchers across the breadth of biomedical, social and data sciences. It will drive new collaborations and embrace access to cutting edge technologies and diverse information sources. It brings together world-leading scientific expertise, people with chronic pain, and healthy volunteers.

APDP is jointly funded through the government’s Strategic Priorities Fund and Versus Arthritis, with additional support from Eli Lilly and the Medical Research Foundation.

It is being delivered through four interlinking thematic areas:

Multidisciplinary consortia

Multidisciplinary consortia will link together researchers across the breadth of biomedical, social and data sciences, and people with lived experience of pain. 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 safe data platform

An online safe access data platform, ALLEVIATE, will provide a key resource for the national and international pain research communities.

With close association with Health Data Research UK the data platform will bring together and curate health data from the NHS, social care and research (academic and industry), notably those generated through the other APDP awards.

This will provide a key national resource for the pain research community and support industry partnerships to tackle the long-term research challenges in understanding the complexity and unpredictability of pain and reveal new and improved treatments across diverse chronic and debilitating pain conditions.

Mapping pain complexity and uncovering the molecular and cellular basis of pain

We will expand the capabilities established through the consortia and the ALLEVIATE data hub by supporting additional research projects aimed at generating critical new knowledge in mapping the complexity of pain.

Why we're doing it

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.

Opportunities, support and resources available

For more information and news on the APDP’s funded research, the experts who are delivering its objectives, and the resources that it can offer for chronic pain research, please visit the APDP engagement site.


Who to contact

Ask a question about the programme



David Walsh, APDP Director


APDP engagement platform

Sign up to the APDP engagement platform

Medical questions

We would encourage all medical questions to be directed to your GP.

Versus Arthritis have information about support for those living with chronic pain. Visit the Versus Arthritis website.

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 APDP investment programme, and comprises members from the funding partners. The executive board ensures the efficient delivery and monitoring of the APDP progress.

Executive board members

Current members:

  • Alice Cardall, BBSRC
  • Craig Bullock, Versus Arthritis
  • Research Fellow, Eli Lilly
  • Jo Latimer, MRC
  • Joanne Goddard, ESRC
  • Kelly Makarona, Medical Research Foundation
  • Nathan Richardson, MRC
  • Neha Issar-Brown, Versus Arthritis
  • Susanna Roberts, Medical Research Foundation.

International scientific advisory board (ISAB)

ISAB supports APDP 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:

  • Dr Andrew Roddam, Early Disease Detection Research Project UK Ltd
  • Professor Bridget Lumb, University of Bristol
  • Professor Francis Keefe, Duke University
  • Jenny Camaradou, Patient Representative
  • Professor Lars Arendt–Nielsen, Aalborg University
  • Professor Maria Fitzgerald, University College London.

Funding opportunity review panels

Expert review panel: multidisciplinary consortia opportunity (invite only), September 2020


  • Professor Iain McNeish, Imperial College London
  • Professor Luke O’Neill, Trinity College Dublin
  • Professor Clifford Woolf, Harvard Medical School
  • Dr Zahid Ali, UCB
  • Professor Jason McDougall, Dalhousie University
  • Professor Thomas Graven-Nielsen, Aalborg University
  • Professor Anne-Marie Malfait, Rush University
  • Professor John T Farrar, University of Pennsylvania
  • Professor Luda Diatchenko, McGill University
  • Professor Susmita Kashikar-Zuck, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
  • Professor Michael Nicholas, University of Sydney
  • Amanda Clark, Versus Arthritis Patient Insight Partner
  • Debra Dulake, Versus Arthritis Patient Insight Partner
  • E. J. Taylor, Versus Arthritis Patient Insight Partner
  • Oonagh Diamond, Versus Arthritis Patient Insight Partner
  • Lucy Youdale, Patient Reviewer
  • Kimberlee Cole, Patient Reviewer.
Expert review panel: pain research data hub, December 2020

Funding opportunity: Pain research data hub – SPF Advanced Pain Discovery Platform


  • Dr Andrew Roddam (Chair), Early Disease Detection Project, CEO
  • Professor Alastair Denniston, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dr Greg Farber, National Institute of Mental Health
  • Professor Jill Pell, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Michaela Benzeval, University of Essex
  • Professor Manon Choiniere, University of Montreal
  • Dr Andy Billinton, NodThera
  • Maisie McKenzie, HDR UK (PPI)
  • Richard M Ballerand, HDR UK (PPI)
  • Isolde Victory , HDR UK (PPI).
Expert review panel: mapping the complexity of pain, September 2021

Funding opportunity: Mapping complexity of pain with the Advanced Pain Discovery Platform


  • Professor Marcus Munafo (Chair), University of Bristol
  • Professor Thomas Graven-Nielsen (Deputy Chair), Aalborg University
  • Professor Anne-Marie Malfait, Rush University Medical Centre
  • Professor Ted Price, University of Dallas
  • Dr Marta Segerdahl, AlzeCure AS
  • Professor Roger Filingrim, University of Florida
  • Professor Jennifer Stinson, University of Toronto
  • Professor Hans-Georg Schaible, University of Jena
  • Professor Sita Bierma-Zeinstra , Erasmus University
  • Professor Angelika Lampert, University of Aachen
  • Professor Karin Jensen, Karolinska Institute
  • Professor Harbinder Sandhu, The University of Warwick
  • Professor Markus Ploner, University of Munich
  • Professor David Finn, NUI Galway
  • Ian Germer, PPIE representative
  • Amanda Clark, PPIE representative
  • Jane Taylor, PPIE representative
  • Susan Burn, PPIE representative.

Last updated: 12 September 2023

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