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Gastroenterology Specialty Profile


Published: 13 June 2019

Version: version 1

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Why you should deliver gastroenterology research in the UK

The Clinical Research Network (CRN) provides researchers with the practical support they need to make research happen in the NHS and the wider heath and social care environment. As well as providing research delivery staff, we also bring together communities of clinical practice to provide national networks of research expertise. The Gastroenterology Specialty is one of 30 such communities and is made up of leading research-interested clinicians and practitioners at both national and local levels. Our job is to ensure that the studies we support are delivered to time and target. We can provide:


Professor Mark Hull is the National Specialty Lead for the Gastroenterology Specialty. Dr Fraser Cummings is our dedicated National Industry Lead for commercial studies who provides strategic direction as well as an operational link between Industry, the NIHR CRN and researchers.

CRN Gastroenterology works closely with the British Society of Gastroenterology and other partners such as BAPEN (formally known as the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition).

We coordinate closely with related CRN specialties including Hepatology, Cancer and Surgery. The group is comprised of nationally and internationally recognised key opinion leaders who are Principal Investigators and Chief Investigators for many national and international studies.

Access to patients

CRN Gastroenterology offers wide access to patients. In 2018/19 over 41,000 participants were recruited in 84 per cent of NHS acute Trusts in England.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) affects more than 300,000 people in the UK. The IBD Bioresource for Inflammatory Bowel Disease aims to genotype and phenotype 50,000 individuals across the UK. It currently involves 90 NHS Trusts. Identification of carefully phenotyped patients for future clinical studies will be facilitated by this Registry.

We also have access to patients with acid related diseases of the gut such as peptic ulcer disease and Barrett’s oesophagus, functional disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and coeliac disease.

Track record

Improved feasibility assessment at sites and monitoring of performance has driven an improvement at delivering studies to time and target.

We have one of the largest commercial studies portfolios in the CRN. This includes multiple studies on novel biological compounds being evaluated for the treatment of IBD. The commercial portfolio continues to expand and we have worked with over 90 different industry sponsors; recruiting over 1,300 participants in 2018/19.

In 2018/19, 88 new gastroenterology studies were added to our portfolio and since 2015, commercial research has acccounted for 43 per cent of the Gastroenterology Specialty portfolio.

We value and deliver studies across diverse areas of Gastroenterology including conditions such as IBS, IBD, coeliac disease and infections.


We have close working relationships with affiliated patient support groups including Crohn’s and Colitis UK (CCUK), Guts UK, Coeliac UK & PINNT (Patients on Intravenous and Naso-gastric Nutritional Therapy).

A strength is the close relationship with the British Society of Gastroenterology, with which we developed the Society’s Clinical Research Strategy.

IBD Bioresource: An observational, registry study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease patients

This study initially aimed to recruit 25,000 patients with Crohn’s or Colitis, including 1,000 newly diagnosed. To date, it is open at 94 sites (93 in England and 1 in Scotland) and has recruited circa 21,000 participants. The recruitment target has since been increased to 50,000. This will be an excellent resource for all IBD researchers.

Visit the IBD resource to find out more.

ADENOMA: A randomised trial of Endocuff Vision™ for improved colorectal adenoma detection

This commercially-funded endoscopy study recruited 1,772 participants ahead of time at seven endoscopy units. It demonstrated a significant improvement in adenoma detection rate, including in bowel cancer screening patients.

In 2018 it won the Acute Sector Medilink Healthcare Business Award for collaboration with industry.

Based upon the results of this study, NHS England announced Endocuff Vision™ as one of only four technologies to be fast-tracked and funded for use through NHS England’s Innovation and Technology Payment programme.

Read more about the Adenoma study.