Empowering Change: My Journey to Becoming a Research Champion

In this blog, we hear from Tricia Kelly about her journey with Ulcerative Colitis and how it shaped her studies and future career path. Tricia recently joined us as a volunteer Research Champion, and as a scientific researcher living with IBD, she brings a unique perspective to the role.

Life has an interesting way of presenting us with opportunities that not only enrich our own journeys but also contribute to the betterment of others. As someone who was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2017, my journey towards where I am now has been transformational, and I have been working towards making something positive of my diagnosis. Through various angles including my role as a Crohn’s & Colitis UK Research Champion, my own scientific research, and fundraising, I hope to help create a brighter future for those affected by IBD.

My journey into IBD research was propelled while studying for an Immunology and Biochemistry degree shortly after my diagnosis. My curiosity into gastrointestinal health led to a captivating path through which I was learning about the intricate workings of the digestive system and gut diseases whilst also coming to terms with what an IBD diagnosis meant for me.

This led to my BSc and MSc theses researching mechanisms of IBD and how treatments work, and to my current PhD in which I’m investigating various aspects of IBD and gut health from a metabolomics perspective. Metabolomics is the study of small molecules, commonly known as metabolites, within the body – it can help us to understand more about disease and health. 

Beyond the lab, my journey as a researcher extends into advocacy and patient engagement. Patient engagement is such an important force in healthcare, which holds the potential to revolutionise the way we understand and manage disease, and with the involvement of Research Champions, Crohn’s &Colitis UK have already put this into motion.

I became a Research Champion earlier this year, and believe this programme will truly progress patient benefit. Through active involvement, researchers can better understand the extent of the physical, emotional, and social complexities that patients navigate and ensure that research and healthcare delivery align with patient needs. In particular, my current role in the MARVEL trial represents an exciting opportunity to help drive  forward our understanding of Crohn’s and Colitis through patient-focused research, with researchers and patients working together.

Although my IBD diagnosis has come with its challenges, it has also brought me to a career I love and to a supportive community of diverse people. I hope to continue to bring hope to other patients, with the message that you can still live a fulfilling life.

Tricia Kelly

Research Champion

This year I ran the London marathon for Crohn’s &Colitis UK and have started leading a running club in Glasgow and have become a personal trainer with an interest in enhancing fitness for recovery and for those with long-term conditions. It has been a journey full of  passion, perseverance, and a commitment to improving the lives of those with IBD. My unique perspective of both patient and researcher allows a deep understanding of the patient side of science, which will hopefully allow me to help us work towards better knowledge and management of IBD. 


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