Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions are an enormous and growing problem with tremendous individual and societal burden in Canada and worldwide. MSK conditions currently affect 11 million Canadians over the age of 12 annually, and this number is expected to increase to 15 million in 2031 (Canadian Orthopaedic Care Strategy Group, 2010). The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates the economic burden of MSK diseases is the highest of any group of diseases – in 2000, it was $22.3 billion annually. MSK conditions currently affect >1.7 billion people globally. Disability due to MSK conditions increased 45% from 1990 to 2010, compared to a 33% average across all other disease areas (Global Burden of Disease Study, Lancet 2012).
London currently has a ‘critical mass’ of outstanding investigators in MSK health. This group of bone and joint researchers has achieved national prominence, by working together as a self-assembled, high-performing team, with a common research agenda and purpose. To that end, Western – together with its affiliated hospitals and research institutes – has developed a transdisciplinary program in MSK health research. The MSK health research program in London now includes over 70 researchers from five Western University Faculties, London Health Sciences Centre, St. Joseph’s Health Care and the Lawson Health Research Institute. Working in an integrated program, we are improving the understanding of and developing novel therapies and devices for the treatment of debilitating bone and joint disorders.
In a series of annual strategic planning meetings since 2008, representatives of this group have met to envision and organize the future of MSK health research in London. At these planning sessions, several key principles were identified:
Vision: “Lifelong Mobility”
Mission: To lead in transdisciplinary research, innovation and education in musculoskeletal health.
Recent catalysts for this Initiative include: