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We fund gastroenterology research projects through our funding programmes, and support training and career development for researchers in the specialty. 

We deliver gastroenterology research funded by the NIHR, the life sciences industry and non-commercial organisations such as charities. We support the set up and delivery of this research in the NHS and in public health and social care settings. Our research infrastructure also supports research funded by these partners, offering expertise, collaborations and facilities. 

We also provide opportunities for people affected by gastrointestinal conditions and their families and carers to influence and take part in research.


The NIHR supports patients and the public to participate in high quality research taking place in health and care settings across England, advancing knowledge and improving care. 

NIHR Clinical Research Network

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) includes 30 specialty groups, who coordinate and support the delivery of high quality research by therapy area. Some of this research is funded by the NIHR, but most of it is funded by non-commercial organisations, such as charities or universities, and the life sciences industry.

The CRN provides researchers with the practical support they need to make research happen. It supports the set up and delivery of clinical research in the NHS and in other health and care settings through our Study Support Service, with tailored offers of support for:

Supporting gastroenterology research

69% of the population has experienced some sort of persistent gut, and gastrointestinal complaints account for 10% of consultations in primary care. Collectively, digestive diseases are also a factor in 1 in 8 deaths in the UK highlighting the clear need for research in this area. The Gastroenterology Specialty portfolio covers research into conditions affecting the whole gastrointestinal tract and includes pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of gastrointestinal disorders.

Our areas of focus are:

  • Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Functional gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome
  • Coeliac disease
  • Gastrointestinal infections
  • Disorders of the oesophagus
  • Gastrointestinal emergencies including bleeding
  • Developments in diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy

The Gastroenterology Specialty has one of the largest commercial studies portfolios in the NIHR CRN and since 2015 commercial research has accounted for 41.8% of the Portfolio of studies. Supported research includes studies investigating novel biological compounds for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The commercial portfolio continues to expand and we have worked with over 90 different industry sponsors, recruiting almost 700 participants in 2019/20.

The specialty has a growing number of studies in neurogastroenterology, the subspecialty dealing with gut disorders of motility and sensation including IBS and constipation. The field of gastrointestinal nutrition covers specific conditions such as coeliac disease, but also nutritional support of a variety of diseases such as IBD and gastrointestinal cancer. 

We also include a portfolio of upper and lower GI endoscopy studies and welcome opportunities to study endoscopy techniques and management including the broad spectrum of medical devices in the diagnosis and management of gut disorders.

Read how we are actively supporting neurogastroenterology and clinical nutrition research.

Who we are

As well as providing research delivery staff, we also bring together highly engaged NHS consultants and clinical academics from top UK universities, bringing both clinical and academic expertise to your research. Our experts in the CRN Specialty Group can advise on delivering your gastroenterology study in the NHS and in particular geographic regions. 

Professor Tariq Iqbal is the CRN National Specialty Lead for gastroenterology. Read Professor Iqbal’s full biography.

Professor Iqbal is supported by Dr Matthew Brookes, in the role of Deputy National Specialty Lead local specialty leads in each of the 15 NIHR Local Clinical Research Networks.

Our collaborators and stakeholders

The Specialty has close working relationships with a number of stakeholders and charities supporting gastroenterology research.

Crohn’s and Colitis UK (CCUK) is the UK’s leading charity for Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis which are the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. CCUK is one of the funders of the NIHR IBD BioResource and other IBD research.

We have a close relationship with the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) and we developed the Society’s Clinical Research Strategy in 2018. We have also been involved in the updated strategy, launched in 2021.  

The BSG Clinical Research Groups (CRG) also join the Specialty Group meetings to identify how we can work collaboratively to support and overcome barriers in the particular sub-specialty areas including endoscopy, food and function, IBD and nutrition. 

Research awards

Recognising the outstanding contributions of the Gastroenterology and Hepatology clinical research communities, the NIHR is supporting a group of new research awards with the BSG. The awards aim to showcase the research skills, processes and outputs across the specialties. The award winners have now been announced with awards presented at the BSG Conference in autumn 2021.

In 2021, we are launching a priority setting partnership for Irritable Bowel Syndrome in partnership with the BSG Food and Function group and charity, Guts UK.


Our funding programmes fund high quality research in gastroenterology that benefits the NHS, public health and social care. We also provide career development funding awards for gastroenterology researchers - see the careers tab for more information. 

Our funding programmes

Our commissioned research programmes often seek research proposals on gastroenterology. 

Most of our funding programmes also run funding calls open to research proposals on any topic (researcher-led calls), including research proposals in gastroenterology. 

Got an idea for research in gastroenterology? The NIHR Research Design Service can help you turn it into a funding application, offering advice on research design, research methods, identifying funding sources, and involving patients and the public. 

Our portfolio of gastroenterology research

You can search and view all the gastroenterology research we’ve funded on NIHR Funding and Awards.

In addition, a number of our research programmes publish comprehensive accounts of our gastroenterology research in the NIHR Journals Library.

Our research units

NIHR Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs) are research partnerships between universities and Public Health England. The units act as centres of excellence in multidisciplinary health protection research in England. 

The following HPRU undertakes gastroenterology research:


The NIHR attracts, trains and supports the best researchers in gastroenterology to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future.

Our investment in people sustains excellent research capacity and expertise throughout clinical and non-clinical academic career pathways and provides high quality learning and development opportunities for the delivery workforce in our infrastructure. 

Funding research careers

The NIHR Academy is responsible for the development and coordination of NIHR academic training, career development and research capacity development. 

There is a wide range of NIHR training and career development awards available at different career stages, from pre-doctoral through to Research Professorships. These awards comprise both personal awards, which can be applied for directly with the NIHR, and institutional awards which should be applied for through the host institution.

Supporting the gastroenterology delivery workforce

The CRN Gastroenterology Specialty is keen to encourage the development of other healthcare professionals to lead and support research locally, specifically to encourage and support more inflammatory bowel disease Clinical Nurse Specialists to get involved in clinical research.

Karen Kemp, an IBD Clinical Nurse Specialist and NIHR 70@70 Research Leader is conducting a scoping review of all nurse principal investigators in the UK and will be publishing this by autumn 2021 .

NIHR Clinical Research Training Programme

This innovative programme offers comprehensive training in how to understand, participate in, and lead clinical research as a future consultant in the NHS.

The programme has been organised by experienced researchers at the NIHR and is supported by the BSG.

Associate Principal Investigator (PI) Scheme 

The Associate PI Scheme aims to develop junior doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to become the PIs of the future and provides formal recognition of a trainee's engagement in NIHR Portfolio research studies. It provides an opportunity to individuals not in the traditional research setting to gain the practical skills to lead and coordinate NIHR portfolio research.

The Associate PI Scheme also provides the hands-on research experience component to individuals registered to the NIHR Clinical Research Training Programme (see link above for more information). 


The NIHR invests significantly in people, centres of excellence, collaborations, services and facilities to support health and care research in England. Collectively these form the world-class NIHR infrastructure.

This national research infrastructure is available to use by UKRI, research charities and the life sciences industry as well as NIHR researchers. 

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) are collaborations between world-leading universities and NHS organisations that bring together academics and clinicians to translate lab-based scientific breakthroughs into potential new treatments, diagnostics and medical technologies. 

The following BRCs undertake gastroenterology research:

NIHR Clinical Research Facilities 

NIHR Clinical Research Facilities (CRFs) are purpose built facilities in NHS hospitals where researchers can deliver early-phase and complex studies.

The following CRF undertakes gastroenterology research:

NIHR Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives

NIHR Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives (MICs) build expertise and capacity in the NHS to develop new medical technologies and provide evidence on commercially-supplied in vitro diagnostic tests. 

The following MIC undertakes research in gastroenterology:

NIHR IBD Bioresource

The NIHR IBD BioResource is a national platform designed to expedite research into Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and help develop new and better therapies.

NIHR Clinical Research Network

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) supports set up and delivery of clinical research in the NHS and in other health and care settings. Find out more on the delivery tab.


The NIHR funds and supports world-class experts in gastroenterology. 

In addition, our experts in the NIHR Clinical Research Network (National Specialty Leads) can advise on delivering your gastroenterology study in the NHS or in other health and social care settings.

National Specialty Lead

Professor Tariq Iqbal is the CRN National Specialty Lead for Gastroenterology. Before being appointed as the National Specialty Lead, Tariq held the role of Industry Lead for Gastroenterology for a number of years.

Prof Iqbal led the development of faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) for treatment and for use in clinical trials in the UK. He is also a key opinion leader in iron metabolism in the gut and led the anaemia treatment section of the 2015 anaemia in IBD guideline committee.

Read Professor Iqbal’s full biography

Public Involvement

We engage with and involve patients, carers, service users and members of the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research in gastroenterology.

Have your say in research

We involve patients, carers, service users and members of the public in our national research funding and support activities, including in gastroenterology research.

Patient & Public Involvement in Research Day 2020

In October 2020, a third ‘Patient & Public Involvement in Research’ day was held virtually with key stakeholders such as CCUK and the BSG.

The event brings together researchers, healthcare professionals, the public, and people with Crohn’s or Colitis to engage in an open discussion about research.

This was an exciting opportunity to learn about innovative and exciting new research, to speak with leading and pioneering IBD researchers, and to help shape the research of the future. Getting involved in this simple way can bring your voice to a conversation that will ensure that research delivers results for you.

The researchers we fund also involve patients in planning and delivering their gastroenterology research.

Involvement opportunities across the NIHR

Our Local Clinical Research Networks involve people in gastroenterology research taking place in your local area.

One of the focuses of the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre is gastrointestinal and liver diseases. 

Take part in research

Be Part of Research is an online service that lists opportunities to take part in gastroenterology research across the UK.

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