WhiteBook2_Part2 - 24

This report provides an exploratory overview of research priorities, activity and funding in the
field of digestive health in Europe. It explores the research priorities and preferences of UEG
national society members, and examines how patterns of research activity and EU funding for
digestive disease research relate to differences in the burden of disease. Together, the results
provide insight into the research landscape, and several observations regarding potential
priorities, gaps and unmet needs become apparent when synthesising the results.
Firstly, the results suggest that inflammatory bowel disease is well researched compared to
other digestive diseases, with a relatively high number of publications and large amount of
Horizon 2020 funding in relation to disease burden as measured by DALYs. Furthermore,
research to investigate Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis accounted for over a fifth of the
priorities identified by the national societies. A previous study also found that amongst
gastroenterology topics, inflammatory bowel disease research received the largest amount of
funding within the EU Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological
Development (FP7) which ran from 2007-2013.5 In the United States, a similar study found
that Crohn's disease research consistently received the highest amount of National Institutes
of Health funding from 2011-2015, compared to five other digestive diseases (coeliac disease,
irritable bowel syndrome, eosinophilic oesophagitis, Barrett's oesophagus and non-alcoholic
fatty liver disease).19 The study's authors put forward that the persistently high levels of
funding for Crohn's disease research is difficult to justify given that Crohn's disease has many
available and emerging treatment options and is associated with lower levels of burden
compared to some of the other digestive diseases which received far less funding.19 It is also
important to note that some studies have found inflammatory bowel disease to be more
prevalent amongst more socioeconomically affluent groups.20 Focusing research efforts in
disease areas that tend to affect more affluent groups, whilst under-prioritising disease areas
that effect more disadvantaged groups could exacerbate existing inequalities.
Several authors have speculated as to why certain research areas attract continuously high
levels of interest and funding. A compounding feedback-cycle has been described, whereby
ample funding permits high quality research which subsequently attracts higher levels of
investment.19 21 Researchers may be incentivised to study well-known, highly-cited topics,
and funders may prefer to invest in more established research areas.10 22 Additionally, it may
be preferable to invest public funds in research which is more likely to produce tangible
societal impact, which may be easier to achieve when much is already known about a topic.23
It may be for these reasons, inflammatory bowel disease research continues to be prioritised
over other digestive diseases associated with greater levels of burden.
White Book 2: Part 2


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of WhiteBook2_Part2

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