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


The NIHR is the nation's largest funder of health and care research and provides the people, facilities and technology that enable research to thrive. We work in partnership with the NHS, universities, local government, other research funders (including industry and charities), patients and the public to improve the health and wealth of the nation.

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) supported 206 studies on diabetes, 61 of which were new studies, and recruited 33,793 patients to studies last year (2019/20).


This study which is the first of its kind, aims to encourage healthier eating in individuals with pre-diabetes by informing users through an app whether any given food item is or is not compatible with their DNA and metabolism.

The study is being carried out in collaboration with the NIHR Imperial BRC, Imperial start-up company DnaNudge, and Waitrose & Partners.


Maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY) is an uncommon form of diabetes, with experts estimating that only one to two percent of people with diabetes in the UK have it. It is caused by a mutation or change in a single gene, but treatment may be different to that provided for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

The MY DIABETES study is a cross-sectional study that characterises young-onset diabetes in UK ethnic groups. The study seeks to find out how type 1 and type 2 diabetes vary in different ethnic groups, and whether MODY is found in all ethnic groups.

In the preliminary analysis of the first 750 participants, Dr Shivani Misra has shown that definitions of type 1 diabetes don’t agree across ethnic groups. This is important as it suggests that revising definitions may be necessary depending on ethnic origin.

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) is supporting recruitment to the study.


The REPOSE trial, funded by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme and supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN), aimed to compare the clinical effectiveness and cost effectiveness of insulin pumps with multiple daily injections for adults with type 1 diabetes.

Participants undertook a week-long educational course (DAFNE, Dose Adjustment For Normal Eating) to learn about flexible insulin therapy. Then one group also received training on how to use a pump to deliver their insulin while the second group used multiple insulin injections for two years.

The REPOSE study found that people with type 1 diabetes using insulin pumps did not achieve better blood glucose control compared with those using multiple daily injections.


ADDRESS 2 is a national database resource, looking for people aged between five and 60 who have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the last six months. ADDRESS 2 has accumulated the largest number of UK based people with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes who are willing to be approached to participate in immunotherapy studies and trials of new therapies. The project offers these people, and their siblings, the opportunity to be involved in diabetes research studies.

  • Visit the website to see how you can get involved

Leicester Self-Assessment (LSA) and Walking Away from Diabetes

The identification and management of type 2 diabetes represents one of the greatest challenges facing the NHS, with the numbers developing the condition rising over the last few years. Identifying those at risk from developing diabetes is a key priority for the NHS.

The NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care East Midlands has developed the Leicester Self-Assessment (LSA), a short questionnaire of seven questions that provides a quick and easy way for people to see how at-risk they are of developing type 2 diabetes, taking into account factors like family background and ethnicity.

The LSA was developed in partnership with Diabetes UK and is available both in paper form and online at the Diabetes UK website, where it has been taken by more than 1.1 million people.

Scoring, detecting and mitigating the risk of diabetes

Researchers at the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre and the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care East Midlands have developed two risk assessment tools for use in ethnically diverse populations: the Leicester Self-Assessment (LSA) tool (based on the patient’s own knowledge) and the Leicester Practice Risk (LPR) tool (designed for risk assessment in general practice). LSA and LPR are the first risk assessment tools for type 2 diabetes to have been validated in a multi-ethnic UK population.

A study funded by the NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR) Programme showed both these tools to be effective in detecting heightened risk of T2DM in general practice. The early detection of risk and symptoms of type 2 diabetes using such tools as LSA and LPR has been identified as a potential source of cost savings for the NHS.

Find a study in your area

You can find out more about research studies in your area through the Be Part of Research website.

There are over 4.6 million people in the United Kingdom living with diabetes, with over a twelve million people at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The numbers of people diagnosed with diabetes in the United Kingdom has doubled in twenty years, soon to become the fastest growing health crisis of our generation. 

Diabetes research matters. It has meant:

  • the expansion in the use of technological devices for management of diabetes
  • improved genetic testing for diabetes sub-types which may effect 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

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) provides researchers with the practical support they need to make clinical studies happen in the NHS. This support covers every stage of research, from set up to delivery.

We provide world-class health service infrastructure - research support staff such as clinical research nurses, and research support services such as pharmacy, pathology and radiology - to support organisations seeking to conduct clinical research in the NHS in England. Some of this research is funded by the NIHR, but most of it is funded by NHS non-commercial partners and industry.

We support the set up and delivery of clinical research in the NHS through our Study Support Service and our Research Design Service helps researchers develop proposals to secure funding from our research programmes.

The Diabetes Specialty is one of 31 specialties which bring together communities of clinical practice to provide national networks of research expertise and clinical leadership. It is made up of research-interested clinicians and practitioners who work at both national and local levels to ensure the studies that are included in our national portfolio of research are delivered successfully in the NHS.

National Diabetes Clinical Specialty Group

Each of our 15 Local Clinical Research Networks has at least one nominated local Clinical Specialty Research Lead for Diabetes. These clinicians lead research groups to promote and support Diabetes research within the NHS Trusts in their area.

At a national level the local leads come together to manage the national Diabetes clinical research portfolio. This involves regularly reviewing the progress of studies, identifying barriers to recruitment, and coming up with solutions and strategies to help overcome those barriers. Our National Specialty Group of clinical experts offer advice and support to commercial and non-commercial customers looking to conduct research in the NHS.


Our Diabetes Specialty profile gives an overview of our offer to the Life Sciences industry.

We work with the Diabetes UK Clinical Study Groups and other professional bodies representing diabetes sub-specialties in the UK to define the research agenda, identify and support new clinical researchers and promote patient involvement in study design, delivery and recruitment.

The NIHR Clinical Research Network has had a long association with Diabetes UK. We have identified that closer working together could help attract more funding, enabling us to explore new research areas and invest in high priority diabetes research projects.

The Diabetes UK Clinical Study Groups (CSGs) consist of between nine and ten sub groups which each cover a different topic within the diabetes field. There is an overarching governance structure and the full group plans to meet several times a year. This is important since it will allow members to exchange ideas and ensure each study group is sufficiently challenged, in particular from patient representatives.

There is a broad membership across the CSGs including academic clinical researchers, patients (some of which were recruited via INVOLVE, the NIHR funded national advisory group which supports active public involvement in NHS, public health and social care research), and healthcare professionals working in the diabetes field but not linked to research. This varied membership cultivates creativity and innovation.

This collaboration is also important because with access to the CRN portfolio, Diabetes UK can understand which studies are successful, what works well and identify any common obstacles. In addition, the partnership working across a wide range of clinical researchers and diabetes specialists means that the CSG is exposed to more funding opportunities, particularly NIHR funding.

Collaboration with the Devolved Nations

Clinical research is being undertaken across the United Kingdom. We continue to work closely with the ScottishWelsh and Northern Irish clinical research networks to support the design and delivery of high quality research.

Diabetes UK

Diabetes UK is one of the UK’s largest funders dedicated to diabetes research, with an annual research budget of around £7.3 million. It funds a range of project and equipment grants and fellowship schemes.


JDRF is the leading charitable funder of diabetes research worldwide, which offers a wide variety of grants and fellowships to qualified researchers. It is committed to spending more than $100 million in 2006 to support research relevant to its mission of finding a cure for diabetes and its complications.

Young Diabetologists and Endocrinologists' Forum

Young Diabetologists and Endocrinologists' Forum is the trainee and young consultants wing of Diabetes UK and serves three core functions - education, communication and representation. Their mission is to enable high quality care for people with diabetes by delivering excellence in diabetes specialist education and providing an effective voice for young diabetologists and endocrinologists.

The NIHR provides the support and facilities the NHS needs for first-class research by funding a range of infrastructure.

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs), partnerships between England’s leading NHS organisations and universities, conduct translational research to transform scientific breakthroughs into life-saving treatments. The following BRC undertakes research in diabetes:

NIHR Applied Research Collaborations

NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) support applied health and care research that responds to, and meets, the needs of local populations and local health and care systems. The following ARCs undertake research in diabetes: 

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:

Work with our infrastructure

All of the NIHR facilities and centres are opening to working with the public, charities, industry and other partners. If you are interested in collaborating with the NIHR please contact the NIHR Office for Clinical Research infrastructure: 

Our experts in the NIHR Clinical Research Network (National Specialty Leads) can advise on delivering your diabetes study in the NHS.

Prof Simon Heller

Professor Simon Heller is the NIHR Clinical Research Network National Specialty Lead for Diabetes.

Prof Heller 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. He trained at Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham and undertook his research training at the University of Nottingham and Washington University, USA. From 2000-2005 he was Editor of Diabetic Medicine.  

He is currently a member of Diabetes UK Science and Research Advisory Group, the UK NIHR Health Technology Assessment Panel and UK Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, UK Scientific Advisory Committee.  He has previously chaired the Clinical Studies Advisory Group of the UK Diabetes Research Network, and is currently the NIHR Clinical Research Network National Lead for Diabetes.

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.  He chaired the glucose control group of the ADVANCE trial and is a steering committee member of the EXAMINE trial. He also conducts research programmes concerned with developing interventions (including the DAFNE intervention) to encourage more effective diabetes self-management. Prof Heller has authored over 200 original research articles and reviews.


Related Specialties

Metabolic and Endocrine

Cardiovascular Disease

Primary Care


Kidney Disorders

Genomics and Rare Diseases



Latest news about Diabetes

Latest blogs about Diabetes