This site is optimised for modern browsers. For the best experience, please use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

Diabetes Specialty Profile



Delivering diabetes research in the UK

The Clinical Research Network (CRN) provides local researchers with practical support they need to make research happen in our National Health Service (NHS). Our research delivery teams collaborate with clinicians to provide networks of research expertise. CRN Diabetes is one of 30 specialty networks, who encourage people with diabetes to participate in high quality clinical studies which are delivered to time and target.

Studies range from multi-centre trials involving hundreds of participants to single centre experimental medicine studies. Our aim is to improve diabetes care for the four million people with diabetes in the UK by providing high quality evidence on prevention, treatment and care.


Strategic input into the Network is provided by regular meetings of diabetes research leads representing regions across England and the devolved nations. Members include nationally and internationally recognised key opinion leaders, all of whom are active researchers. They include chief investigators for national and international multi-centre studies. Membership also includes people with both types of diabetes, who bring a crucial patient view the group. They provide input on feasibility, recruitment and the value of research to those with diabetes. There are also representatives from major national charities, including Diabetes UK and JDRF.

Access to patients

Over 35,700 participants were recruited into CRN studies in 2017/18 across the entire diabetes pathway. We have established links with patient organisations that provide access to hard to reach patient groups, as well as through our NIHR Patient Research Ambassadors Initiative. Since most people with type 2 diabetes receive their care in the community, we are developing approaches to recruitment which involve primary care colleagues. To ensure they are incorporated more widely a key objective for CRN Diabetes is to increase recruitment from the community year-on-year. We are sharing examples of best practice across the Network.

Study delivery

We actively manage study performance, through direct involvement of the National Specialty Lead and CRN Industry Team.

Evidence of our ability to set-up and deliver studies is summarised below:

  • 35,709 participants recruited into diabetes studies in 2017/18 across all pathways
  • 6,401 participants recruited to commercial studies in 2017/18
  • First global patient recruited in 2017/18 into commercially sponsored SUSTAIN-8 study
  • First European patient in a diabetes and pregnancy study at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough in February 2016


Diabetes UK has had a long association with the NIHR CRN. We’re now working with the charity to support the emerging thinking of seven clinical studies groups (CSGs). Each CSG covers a different area of diabetes research and involves academic researchers, people affected by diabetes and healthcare professionals from across the UK. Building on a previous initiative of the Network, the CSGs are working to identify areas of priority, support the research community to tackle those areas, and encourage further investment. The overarching objective is to ensure that the diabetes community both develops ideas in areas of priority and prepares high quality applications to fund them. The CSGs will have a wide membership, including academic researchers, patients and healthcare professionals.

Case studies

Examples of recent and ongoing studies conducted within the Network which are likely to change practice include:

  • The REPOSE (Relative Effectiveness of Pumps Over Structured Education) trial compared Insulin pumps to multiple injections in people who had received high quality structured training to optimise their diabetes control. It recruited over 300 patients to time in eight centres across the UK to a trial lasting two years and showed that glucose control and severe hypoglycaemia improve in both groups, although those on pumps reported some additional quality of life benefits.
  • The PRiDE study recruited over 4,750 patients, from a number of sites across England over 5 years, making it the first largest study to be conducted of this nature in Gestational Diabetes
  • ADDRESS 2 has accumulated the largest number of UK-based children and adults with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes who are willing to be approached to participate in trials of new therapies - 5,151 people as of December 2017, and continuing at a rate of 80 per month. For two trials that closed in 2017, 25% of UK recruits were referred via ADDRESS-2.

Find out more

You can visit our diabetes specialty page for more information.

Contact us

Access our Study Support Service

Phone: 0113 34 34 555