Published: 15 March 2023
The NIHR and Diabetes UK have today launched a joint strategy to inform the direction of clinical and applied diabetes research in the UK.
The report aims to encourage research that improves care and speeds up progress towards new treatments for people with, or at risk of, diabetes.
The “UK Strategy for Clinical and Applied Diabetes Research” is the product of discussions across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales involving groups of experts, patients, researchers and clinicians. It is designed to help the UK diabetes research community collaborate in areas with the most need and greatest promise. It represents the result of a comprehensive analysis of diabetes research across the UK and the identification of six key areas of unmet need.
Six key areas of work
Under the guidance of a Steering Group led by 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) - diabetes experts came together to analyse the data and make recommendations about where there are opportunities to stimulate and accelerate clinical and applied research.
The recommendations were then 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.
From this process six key areas were identified to increase research activities that address unmet needs:
- 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
The NIHR and Diabetes UK have already started to drive forward a number of recommendations from this strategy including launching a joint call for programmes of applied research which aims to better support people with diabetes distress.
Additionally, NIHR’s Health and Social Care Delivery Research (HSDR) Programme, in partnership with Diabetes UK, has invited applications to understand how services can be improved for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The programme will explore how to integrate diabetes and mental health services and teams to support people living with diabetes and to understand how care can be improved for those managing their diabetes in later life.
Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR said:
“This strategy highlights a range of great examples of where research has been translated into improvements in outcomes for people with diabetes, and the factors that have enabled this success.
“But it also shows where more work is needed, such as addressing those where diabetes exists alongside other long-term conditions, improving management of diabetes in pregnancy, tackling health inequalities and supporting the next generation of researchers.
“We look forward to building on our partnership with Diabetes UK and other funders, working with the research community to address the challenges facing people with and at risk of diabetes."
Anna Morris, Assistant Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said:
“We are delighted to publish this strategy developed in partnership with the NIHR. It highlights the transformational difference clinical and applied research has already made to diabetes care and shines a light on areas in need of increased activity, along with Diabetes UK’s and the NIHR’s commitment to work together to address this unmet need.
"The strategy highlights areas where the stark under investment is in contrast with the scale and impact of the challenge, such as the prevention of type 2 diabetes and understanding, preventing and managing gestational diabetes. We hope that the community of researchers and funders take up the challenge to drive forward progress in these areas.”
Dr Goher Ayman and Rohit Patel, who both live with diabetes and are members of the strategy Steering Group, said:
“The collaborative approach, bringing together the views of people with diabetes, healthcare professionals and researchers, has resulted in wide-ranging recommendations. On a number of levels, these recommendations commit to facing the challenge of ensuring inclusive, relevant and impactful research.
"We welcome the much-needed focus on addressing the quickly-growing health inequalities and access to life-changing care options. We also welcome the much-needed acknowledgement that research must reflect the complexity of diabetes in the real-world, across the whole life course, and that this often includes other conditions.
"We call on researchers and research funders to take up the challenge to drive forward investment in these critical areas.”