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Bowel Research UK joins first-of-its-kind charity partnership Connect Immune Research

9 August 2021

A pioneering research charity initiative has attracted further backing to address the UK’s high prevalence of autoimmune conditions.

Bowel Research UK has joined the Connect Immune Research initiative, which includes the type 1 diabetes charity JDRFthe MS SocietyVersus ArthritisAlopecia UK, the Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance, Coeliac UK, and supporting partner the British Society for Immunology. 

The organisations will work together to accelerate research into autoimmune conditions, which see the body’s immune system mistakenly attack healthy cells. Autoimmune conditions affect an estimated four million people in the UK  equivalent to more than six per cent of the population but cures have not yet been found.

The Connect Immune Research initiative brings together researchers from across these autoimmune conditions to uncover the common threads in their work. This will see greater efficiency and hopefully new treatments, faster. 

Rebecca Porta, CEO of Bowel Research UK, said:

“Chronic inflammatory gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis are thought to be associated with autoimmune responses where the body’s own immune system attacks healthy tissues. Severe cases of both conditions can be highly debilitating and life limiting.

“As we stand, there is a lot more to be discovered about autoimmune conditions and a pressing need for more research. This is why we are delighted to join Connect Immune Research, to pool our research findings and work with organisations such as Coeliac UK, the MS Society and the British Society for Immunology and many others to discover more about these and other diseases like arthritis for which there are currently treatments but no cures.”

Caroline Schmutz, Research Partnerships Manager at JDRF, said:

“Connect Immune Research intends to build momentum among funders and scientists to find the links between autoimmune conditions. Our approach is to work together in a way that rarely happens across different immune disorders today.

“As well as accelerating research into new treatments for millions of people, the Connect Immune Research approach could break traditional research silos. We believe this innovative approach could be key to helping the medical research sector become more efficient and adapt to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.”

Notes to editors

About Bowel Research UK

Bowel Research UK is funding life-changing research into bowel cancer and other bowel diseases. Every year over 16,000 people die from bowel cancer in the UK and over a million suffer from bowel disease. By researching cutting edge treatments and investing in the best science, Bowel Research UK is working towards saving and improving people’s lives. The charity was founded in 2020 following a merger between two well-respected charities: Bowel & Cancer Research and Bowel Disease Research Foundation (BDRF).

Read more here about Connect Immune Research.

Press office contact: 

About Coeliac UK 

For over 50 years, Coeliac UK has been the expert on coeliac disease and the gluten free diet. We are an independent charity helping people living without gluten to live happier, healthier lives. We do this by providing trustworthy advice and support, funding critical research into coeliac disease, working with healthcare professionals to improve diagnosis and fighting for better availability of gluten free food. And we do it all so that one day, no one’s life will be limited by gluten.

For more information visit or follow us on Twitter: @Coeliac_UK and on LinkedIn: @coeliac-uk.

About Alopecia UK

Alopecia UK is the leading UK charity working to improve the lives of those affected by alopecia through aims of support, awareness and research. We collaborate and work with clinicians, researchers and industry to provide hope and confidence to people with alopecia by funding research into its causes, with the aim of finding treatments, and ultimately, a cure. We keep those with alopecia at the heart of everything we do to ensure that the voice of those with alopecia is always heard.

For more information visit or follow us on Twitter: @alopeciauk.

About JDRF

JDRF is the leading global organisation funding type 1 diabetes research. Our mission is to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat type 1 diabetes and its complications. To accomplish this, JDRF has invested more than £1.5 billion since our inception. We collaborate with the most talented minds to develop and deliver a pipeline of innovative therapies to people living with type 1 diabetes. Our staff and volunteers around the globe are dedicated to campaigning for our vision of a world without type 1 diabetes. 

For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter: @JDRFUK

About multiple sclerosis and the MS Society

Over 130,000 people live with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the UK. MS damages nerves in your body and makes it harder to do everyday things, like walk, talk, eat and think. It's relentless, painful, and disabling. It’s unpredictable and different for everyone.

The MS Society is here to make life better for people with MS, through research, campaigning, and support.

We have a free helpline – 0808 800 8000 – and information can be found on our website

We’re driving research into more – and better – treatments for everyone.

Together we’re strong enough to stop MS.

About the Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance

The Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance (PAPAA) is an independently funded charity, which supports and advises people affected by psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Our vision is to see psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis managed in a positive way, more effectively, by putting people affected at the centre of care. We act ethically, with integrity on behalf of our constituent group and advocate and represent them fairly. We support researchers via a small grants scheme and provide healthcare professionals with resources to support their patients, along with access to an accredited professional training programme.

For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter: @PsoriasisInfo

About Versus Arthritis

There are 18.8 million people living with a musculoskeletal (MSK) condition like arthritis in the UK. That’s one in four people, with half of those living in pain every single day. The impact is huge as the condition intrudes on everyday life – affecting the ability to work, care for a family, to move free from pain and live independently. Yet arthritis is often dismissed as an inevitable part of ageing or shrugged off as ‘just a bit of arthritis’. We don’t think this is ok. Versus Arthritis is here to change that. 

Find out more at:

About the British Society for Immunology

The British Society for Immunology is the leading UK membership organisation working with scientists and clinicians from academia and industry to forward immunology research and application around the world. Our friendly, inclusive community consists of more than 4,200 immunologists, giving us a powerful voice to advocate for immunological science and health for the benefit of society.

Twitter: @britsocimm