Research Q&A

We are committed to finding a cure for Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

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.

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.

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 AMRC, and Crohn’s and Colitis UK has been awarded an AMRC certificate of good practice for our peer review procedures.

A priority for our Research Strategy and Funding Committee (see below) will be to develop robust outcome measures to assess the long-term impact of the research we fund.

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

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.

Two separate research panels oversee our research awards each year, 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.

What is the future for our funding programme?

We are always considering how our funded projects can be developed to make our donors money work hard and achieve best value.

We are currently considering a new approach on how we might begin inviting research centres to apply for our funding, based on our agreed research priorities, or because of promising research they are pursuing in related fields. We are exploring this with The James Lind Alliance Priority Setting Partnerships. This brings patients and clinicians together to identify shared priorities for research into the treatment of specific health problems.

In this setting we are working together with The British Society of Gastroenterology, the Association of Coloproctologists of Great Britain and Ireland, the British Dietetic Association, British Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition, Crohn’s in Childhood Research Association, CORE, The Royal College of Nursing, and adult patients with IBD to determine the clinical research priorities. We will publish those priorities online in early 2015.

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.

Do you have a question for us regarding research?

Please email the Research team at