We fund diabetes research projects through our funding programmes, and support training and career development for diabetes researchers.
We deliver diabetes research funded by the NIHR, the life sciences industry and non-commercial organisations such as charities. We support the set up and delivery of this research in the NHS and in public health and social care settings. Our research infrastructure also supports research funded by these partners, offering expertise, collaborations and facilities.
We also provide opportunities for people with diabetes and their families and carers to influence and take part in research.
Joint strategy for diabetes research 2023
The NIHR and Diabetes UK launched a joint strategy for clinical and applied diabetes research in the UK in March 2023.
It aims to help the UK diabetes research community collaborate in areas with the most need and greatest promise:
- Prevention of type 2 diabetes and obesity
- Gestational diabetes
- Multiple long-term conditions
- Moving research findings into practice
- Addressing health inequalities in diabetes
- Supporting future research leaders and fostering expert skills.
Download the strategy
Visit Diabetes UK - for diabetes researchers to find out more and download the UK Strategy for Clinical and Applied Diabetes Research.
The strategy was informed by discussions with groups of:
in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
A steering group of diabetes experts analysed the data and recommended opportunities to stimulate and accelerate clinical and applied research.
Professor Simon Heller, Professor of Clinical Diabetes at the University of Sheffield and National Speciality Lead in Diabetes for the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) led the steering group.
The group's recommendations were mapped against the research priorities set out by James Lind Alliance Priority Setting partnerships and the work of the Diabetes Research Steering Groups to make sure they also reflected the views of people with, or at risk of, diabetes.
The NIHR supports patients and the public to participate in high quality research taking place in health and care settings across England, advancing knowledge and improving care.
NIHR Clinical Research Network
The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) includes 30 specialty groups, who coordinate and support the delivery of high quality research by therapy area. Some of this research is funded by the NIHR, but most of it is funded by non-commercial organisations, such as charities or universities, and the life sciences industry.
The CRN provides researchers with the practical support they need to make research happen. It supports the set up and delivery of clinical research in the NHS and in other health and care settings through our Study Support Service, with tailored offers of support for:
Supporting diabetes research
There are more than 4.8 million people in the United Kingdom living with diabetes, with over twelve million people at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the United Kingdom has doubled in twenty years and the number of people with diabetes is expected to rise to 5.3 million by 2025, soon to become the fastest growing health crisis of our generation.
Diabetes research has improved the evidence base around prevention, treatment and care for people living with the condition. Here are some of our research highlights:
- the expansion in the use of technological devices for management of diabetes
- improved genetic testing for diabetes subtypes that may affect treatment outcomes
- better understanding of the immune system and support for the development of potential immunotherapies to prevent type 1 diabetes
- the development and testing of the artificial pancreas for type 1 diabetes
- improved screening and therapies for diabetic retinopathy
Since most people with type 2 diabetes receive their care in the community, we are developing approaches to recruitment which involve primary care colleagues more widely.
We have successfully recruited a first European participant and a first UK participant in 2019. This is a key performance indicator for the global life-sciences industry in clinical research delivery as it shows the NIHR can support the rapid set-up and recruitment of studies.
ADDRESS 2 is a national database resource and has the largest number of UK based people with newly diagnosed (less than 6 months) type 1 diabetes who are willing to be approached to participate in immunotherapy studies and trials of new therapies. The project is available to people aged between five and 60, and their siblings, and offers the opportunity to be involved in diabetes research studies.
Who we are
Our experts in the CRN Specialty Group can advise on delivering your diabetes study in the NHS and in particular geographic regions.
Professor Simon Heller is the CRN National Specialty Lead for Diabetes. He is Professor of Clinical Diabetes at the University of Sheffield, Director of Research and Development and Honorary Consultant Physician at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust.
Prof Heller’s current research interests include, the pathophysiological responses to hypoglycaemia and hypoglycaemia unawareness, the potential contribution and mechanisms of hypoglycaemia to cardiovascular mortality, the use of insulin analogues and other technologies to reduce hypoglycaemia.
Professor Heller is supported by local specialty leads in each of the 15 NIHR Local Clinical Research Networks.
Our collaborators and stakeholders
Working closely with Diabetes UK we have supported the development of seven Diabetes research Steering Groups. The steering groups help improve the lives of people with or at risk of diabetes through research. The groups bring together researchers, healthcare professionals and people living with or at risk of diabetes, pinpoint precisely where more research needs to happen so we can make the greatest possible difference to the lives of people with diabetes.
A representative of JDRF, the charity committed to eradicating type 1 diabetes, attends the CRN National Specialty Group meetings and updates the group on funding, public involvement and volunteering opportunities.
Our funding programmes fund high quality research in diabetes that benefits the NHS, public health and social care. We also provide career development funding awards for critical care researchers - see the careers tab for more information.
Our funding programmes
Our commissioned research programmes often seek research proposals on diabetes. Most of our funding programmes also run funding calls open to research proposals on any topic (researcher-led calls), including research proposals in diabetes.
Got an idea for research in diabetes? The NIHR Research Design Service can help you turn it into a funding application, offering advice on research design, research methods, identifying funding sources, and involving patients and the public.
Our portfolio of diabetes research
You can search and view all the diabetes research we’ve funded on NIHR Funding and Awards.
In addition, a number of our research programmes publish comprehensive accounts of our diabetes research in the NIHR Journals Library.
The NIHR attracts, trains and supports the best researchers in diabetes to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future.
Our investment in people sustains excellent research capacity and expertise throughout clinical and non-clinical academic career pathways and provides high quality learning and development opportunities for the delivery workforce in our infrastructure.
Funding diabetes research careers
The NIHR Academy is responsible for the development and coordination of NIHR academic training, career development and research capacity development.
There is a wide range of NIHR training and career development awards available at different career stages, from pre-doctoral through to Research Professorships. These awards comprise both personal awards, which can be applied for directly with the NIHR, and institutional awards which should be applied for through the host institution.
NIHR has partnered with Diabetes UK to offer jointly funded NIHR Charity Partnership Fellowships. Doctoral Fellowships open for applications twice a year and applicants should check the round details to confirm whether the partnership is active for the Fellowship round they wish to apply for.
Supporting the diabetes delivery workforce
We have conducted two workshops in collaboration with Diabetes UK, a report will shortly be launched following the last workshop on supporting Early Career Researchers.
The NIHR invests significantly in people, centres of excellence, collaborations, services and facilities to support health and care research in England. Collectively these form the world-class NIHR infrastructure.
This national research infrastructure is available to use by UKRI, research charities and the life sciences industry as well as NIHR researchers.
- Find out more about working with our research infrastructure as a researcher or a member of the life sciences industry
NIHR Biomedical Research Centres
NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) are collaborations between world-leading universities and NHS organisations that bring together academics and clinicians to translate lab-based scientific breakthroughs into potential new treatments, diagnostics and medical technologies.
The following BRCs undertake research in diabetes:
- NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre
- NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre
- NIHR Guy's and St Thomas' Biomedical Research Centre
- NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre
- NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre
- NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre
- NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre
- NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre
NIHR Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives
NIHR Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives (MICs) build expertise and capacity in the NHS to develop new medical technologies and provide evidence on commercially-supplied in vitro diagnostic tests.
The following MIC undertakes research in diabetes:
NIHR Clinical Research Network
The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) supports set up and delivery of clinical research in the NHS and in other health and care settings. Find out more on the delivery tab.
The NIHR funds and supports world-class experts in diabetes.
In addition, our experts in the NIHR Clinical Research Network (National Specialty Leads) can advise on delivering your diabetes study in the NHS or in other health and social care settings.
National Specialty Lead
Professor Simon Heller is the NIHR CRN National Specialty Lead for Diabetes. He is Professor of Clinical Diabetes at the University of Sheffield, Director of Research and Development and Honorary Consultant Physician at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust.
Read more about Professor Heller
We engage with and involve patients, carers, service users and members of the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research in diabetes.
Have your say in research
We involve patients, carers, service users and members of the public in our national research funding and support activities, including in diabetes research.
The researchers we fund also involve patients in planning and delivering their diabetes research.
Involvement opportunities across the NIHR
Our Local Clinical Research Networks involve people in diabetes research taking place in your local area.
The NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre works with local people to plan and deliver research on long term conditions.
The South London Diabetes Patient Involvement Group at the NIHR Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre enables people with diabetes and their relatives to get involved in diabetes research in South London and is always looking for new members.
Take part in research
Be Part of Research is an online service that lists opportunities to take part in diabetes research across the UK.
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