Challenges in IBD Research

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is dedicated to accelerating research to drive the continuum from new discovery to optimal care. To accomplish this, every five years the Foundation convenes leading researchers to update the Foundation’s research agenda and identify new priorities in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) research. 

The first such meeting was held in 1990, at which time the Challenges in IBD Research publication was produced, identifying research priorities and resources necessary to reach these goals. Challenges in IBD Research provides a global research prioritization for the IBD community, defining a path for moving research from the bench to the bedside. Challenges in IBD Research guides the Foundation’s funding and research strategies and provides guidelines for researchers planning to apply for Foundation funding. In addition, it informs research reviewers and patient communities about the Foundation’s priorities in IBD research and in addressing unmet patient’s needs.

2018 Challenges in IBD Research

In 2017, the Foundation redefined the priority focus areas, based on strategic meetings with scientists from academia, industry, leaders from other research foundations and members of the Foundation's National Scientific Advisory Committee (NSAC). The five focus areas that were identified, which include pediatric and adult unmet needs, are: precision medicine, clinical research, preclinical human IBD mechanisms, novel technologies and environmental triggers.

The Foundation recruited and convened up to 100 scientists, pediatric and adult gastroenterologists, surgeons, bioengineers, industry partners, and patients and caregivers and formed five multidisciplinary workgroups to begin to work together on the next iteration of Challenges in IBD Research. The workgroup reviewed the 2013 Challenges document to assess progress made , and identified current challenges, within the five main focus areas of IBD research, that need to be addressed to more quickly advance towards improved therapeutics and diagnostics. The workgroup discussions started in early 2017 and within a year, through teleconferences and in-person meetings, authored by multiple contributors, a manuscript describing the top priority unmet needs and the cutting edge approaches for bridging these gaps was generated, proposing a new research continuum for accelerating research towards novel diagnostics and interventions. 

The 2018 Challenges in IBD Research will be published in the spring of 2019 in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases and on our website.

2013 Challenges in IBD Research

The most recent Challenges in IBD Research was published in 2013. This update built off of the success of the 2008 document, and identified several global priorities for IBD research, including epidemiology and the role of environmental factors; IBD diagnoses; optimizing medical therapy; genetics; microbiome; adaptive immunity; innate immunity; and epithelial cell biology. Click the links below to learn more about the 2013 Challenges in IBD Research.

Challenges in Pediatric IBD

The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation has long recognized that our youngest patients are not just “little adults” and that pediatric IBD has some unique needs. In 2005, the Foundation held its first Pediatric Challenges in IBD conference. Some of the best physicians in the country gathered in Boston to discuss pertinent avenues of research for our pediatric community. Representatives from numerous disciplines were present, including: pediatric gastroenterologists, pathologists, microbiologists, adult gastroenterologists, and psychiatrists, among others, resulting in five initiatives for future pediatric IBD research. These include: Growth/Bone Development, Genetics, Quality Improvement, Immune Response, and Psychosocial Issues.

The Challenges in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease article may be found here

Research Resources

The Challenges directives also identified resources that were deemed critical to promote research.  These include:

  • IBD DNABank, a repository of approximately 1000 DNA samples from patients and family memberswith IBD or matched controls that researchers can use to expand their understanding of IBD genetics.  Phenotype and genotype information is provided for each sample.  The collection open to all qualified researchers.
  • CCFA's Clinical Research Alliance is composed of clinicians at academic  institutions and in private practice  who conduct clinical trials to answer questions that may not be addressed by other organizations, such as pharmaceutical companies.
  • PRO-KIIDS Pediatric Network similar to the Clinical Research Alliance above, the Pediatric Network is a consortium of pediatric IBD academic centers and private practices that have agreed to share data across a common data platform in order to answer important clinical questions in childhood onset IBD.

How to Help

How patients can support Crohn’s & colitis research

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