Research Q&A

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What are our aims for research funding?

Crohn's & Colitis UK is dedicated to finding a cure for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (UC), the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). We fund clinical (scientific) research that we hope will help to achieve this. We also fund innovative programmes designed to understand the challenges facing those currently living with Crohn’s and UC, and to make life better for them. As a patient organisation committed to providing help and information, and improving services, we know how important it is to support people currently affected by IBD - as well as striving to understand the condition and ultimately find a cure.

We will achieve our mission through a determined effort in these important areas:

  • Medical - any aspect of Crohn's or Colitis relevant to a better understanding of the causes or mechanisms of IBD or better treatment, including surgery, for patients with IBD. 
  • Improving Lives - any aspect of the social and psychological impact of Crohn's or Colitis, including research into ways of helping patients and their families to live with IBD, or with the potential to improve the services provided to the UK's IBD community and to drive up standards of care for patients with IBD. 

What are we doing to find a cure?

The ultimate goal of a large proportion of the medical research we fund is to prevent or find a cure for IBD. However, the work actually taking place is rarely as glamorous or headline-grabbing as 'finding the answer’. Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are complex and difficult to treat diseases, with a range of symptoms and responses. There probably is not a single cure or solution, just as there often does not seem to be a single cause or reason why someone has developed IBD. Therefore, we sponsor a wide range of research to explore as many avenues as possible.

But by taking small steps, and continually working towards an even better understanding of these conditions, by testing theories and trying out new treatments, we do hope that effective ways to treat IBD and then a cure - or cures - can be found.

Helen Terry, Director of Research
Crohn's & Colitis UK

Who do we fund?

Crohn's & Colitis UK will consider applications from teams working in established universities, medical centres and research organisations. Our preferred strategy is to fund smaller research projects that can form an initial or pilot project that can later be scaled up. We also aim to provide awards for research which needs initial funding in order to attract 'match-funding' from other organisations.

This approach allows our limited funds to have a bigger impact. However, we are happy to consider all applications.

We recently launched an exciting Rising Stars in Research initiative, which aims to encourage talented early-stage researchers to focus on research into Crohn’s and Colitis. A further £60,000 is available to sponsor Crohn’s & Colitis UK Research Fellows to undertake a PhD, in addition to research funding awarded through our annual grant call, (i.e. a total maximum budget of £180,000 over three years). We then work with our Fellows to increase the profile of IBD research and its communication to the public.

Research into the MAP vaccine

In Crohn's Disease, there is an ongoing debate about the possible role of mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) in causing the condition and whether treatments should be developed on that basis. Understandably, the research has been attracting a great deal of attention since we first funded work in this area in 2006. Our position on MAP is that it may be responsible for Crohn's in humans, but this has not yet been proven. However, we welcome applications for funding for research in this area as in all others, and our research panel is keenly interested in the developments.

Who oversees our funding programme

Peer-review sits at the heart of our research policy. This means that we expect the research we fund to be published and fully reviewed by experts in high impact medical research journals. This is a research funding standard across all members of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), and Crohn’s and Colitis UK has been awarded an AMRC certificate of good practice for our peer review procedures.

The Research Strategy and Funding (RS&F) Committee takes delegated responsibility on behalf of the Board of Trustees for the research strategy and its delivery. This ensures that there is a framework for accountability, and that the charity is working within appropriate legal and ethical boundaries to fund research of the highest quality and of greatest benefit to people. A priority for our RS&F Committee will be to develop robust outcome measures to assess the long-term impact of the research we fund.

We are always considering how our funded projects can be developed to make our donors money work hard and achieve best value. We continually review our research strategies and policies to ensure they are fit for purpose in the ever-changing world of scientific research and academia, and in light of availability of other additional and complimentary research funding.

Two separate research panels oversee our annual research awards process, supported by the RS&F Committee. We aim to provide funding across all of our strategic research areas. Projects may be directed towards any aspect of IBD and can last up to three years. Grants will normally be up to a maximum of £120,000. Ultimately, our aim is to achieve a wide mix of projects, covering a variety of our research priorities.

Future directions - Collaborative Research Networks

Collaboration, resource sharing, and discussion increases the power of research. Additionally, we know that certain research areas are a priority for patients. It is for these reasons that we have established our Collaborative Research Networks initiative, with pain as our first theme.

Established in 2019, the ‘Pain Collaborative Research Network’ promotes and facilitates the discussion and exchange of ideas on pain in IBD, which has been identified as an area of unmet need by researchers, clinicians and most importantly patients. Additionally, with oversight from our Pain Collaborative Steering Committee, we will be awarding grants to direct the future of IBD pain research (on a similar basis to that of the annual funding scheme).

How can I get involved in research?

We believe that research should be done in collaboration with patients rather than to them. If you would like to get involved in research, there are a variety of options to choose from depending on your interests and availability: everything from sitting on the panels that oversee which research we fund and joining steering committees for specific research projects, to participating in clinical trials or simply filling in a questionnaire. For all opportunities, please explore our Research Involvement pages.

Do you have a question for us regarding research?

Please email the Research team at