Yes, Researchers All Over the World Are Actually Studying Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

December 28, 2014

There is hardly a week that goes by in large Internet support forums for people with IBS that a commenter doesn’t ask, “Why isn’t anyone looking into [any given aspect of IBS]?” or lament, “There should be research into IBS like other conditions!” Usually, such a conversation thread devolves into several other people with IBS piling on with their agreement while a few who are more knowledgeable on the subject attempt to share facts, perspective and links to the contrary. Sometimes these efforts are acknowledged as appreciated; often they seem to go by potential readers as if the information was never posted. Recently, the IBS Impact founder observed two separate threads in the same forum claiming erroneously that IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion in less than 24 hours, despite the fact that two people had attempted the first time to explain the international Rome criteria for diagnosis, which have been in existence in some form for over two decades. The current version is Rome III.  (See page 889, C1) Just over two weeks ago, functional GI experts met to finalize Rome IV, which is due to be released in 2016.

There probably isn’t anyone who has been in the IBS community for a while, whether a person with IBS, involved family member, or professional who would not agree that more funding and more research are needed, so that the causes of IBS and the most effective treatment interventions are fully understood over time. It is also true that IBS generally does not have a high profile in terms of mainstream media publicity. As discussed previously on this blog on many occasions, a minority of those of us with IBS tend to talk or write about it in public. However, most expert IBS professionals do not tend to spend time reading or posting in IBS support forums. Instead, they are busy actually providing medical care to their patients, who statistically tend to be those of us with the most severe and complex cases, actually conducting their research, pursuing funding to continue such research, presenting their findings and networking with colleagues at professional conferences, educating less experienced health care professionals as part of routine teaching responsibilities at major academic medical centers, occasionally writing books, producing videos, commenting publicly in the media, or lobbying legislators. An increasing number of professionals representing different fields of relevance to IBS, such as gastroenterology, neurology, psychology and behavioral medicine, dietetics, and others are making themselves available to people with IBS through blogs of their own, a social media presence, and/or cutting edge resources like the University of North Carolina Expert Updates and past Patient Symposium. Peer support forums definitely have their uses, but depending on the members and moderators at any particular site and time, if one confines oneself to a single source of information, one may not be aware of the tremendous amount of research that has been devoted to IBS over the decades and continues globally today in numerous aspects of this complex puzzle.

Irritable bowel syndrome is the most common functional gastrointestinal and motility disorder. Many conditions in that category are statistically much rarer, but an IBS Impact member who has had IBS for several decades and is also a degreed professional in a scientific field estimates that there are about 1000 scientific journal articles per year published worldwide on IBS. A vast majority of them are readily available to anyone with an Internet connection, free of charge either in abstract or in full-text or both, through PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine, which is a subunit of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Numerous clinical trials involving human subjects, both in the United States and 187 other countries around the globe are registered in a database at, also a service of the National Institutes of Health. As of this writing, 440 recruiting, active, or recently completed or terminated trials are listed for IBS. As use of the database is not required, the list does not include any studies that may not have been submitted, or other basic laboratory or animal studies not involving human volunteers. Again, this information is publicly searchable on the Internet by anyone who chooses to seek it out. The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, which currently has professionals from 11 countries on its advisory board, reported less than two weeks ago through its grassroots arm, the Digestive Health Alliance, that in the fiscal year 2015 budget, two subunits of the National Institutes of Health that provide funding for functional gastrointestinal disorders like IBS have received overall increases, and the Department of Defense medical research budget, which also includes functional gastrointestinal disorders, has maintained the same funding level as fiscal 2014.

This blog often links interesting clinical trials or results or mentions various evidence-based resources in posts on other topics, but here is a selection of academic research centers in various nations that have done IBS research. Some have specific IBS or functional GI programs. Others conduct their research within the context of larger departments and disciplines like gastroenterology, neurology, psychology, psychiatry, behavioral medicine, chronic pain, pharmacology, etc. Still others have individual researchers, clinicians or faculty members who are interested in or are recognized by their professional peers for groundbreaking work related to IBS or functional gastrointestinal disorders in general. Many senior-level experts have lived and worked in more than one country or collaborated with colleagues in various nations over the course of their careers, while other researchers are students or promising junior faculty members. A handful of these entities are mentioned often on this blog. Many have not been highlighted previously. It would be impossible to show a complete list of every country, every facility, or every individual involved in IBS research and clinical care, but the intent is to illustrate, through some of the most easily accessible website or news links in English, that there are indeed highly experienced, dedicated professionals throughout the world working year after year on behalf of people with IBS

In the United States: The University of North Carolina Center for Functional GI and Motility Disorders, UCLA Center for Neurobiology of Stress, Cedars-Sinai GI Motility ProgramNorthwestern University Center for Psychosocial Research in GI, University of Michigan Functional Bowel Disorders Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins University, State University of New York at Buffalo Behavioral Medicine Clinic, Boston Medical Center (Boston University), Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Harvard University), Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (Dartmouth College), Vanderbilt University Pediatric Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders Program, Nationwide Children’s Hospital (Ohio State University), Houston Methodist Hospital (Weill Cornell Medical College, New York Presbyterian, Texas A&M and the University of Houston)

In Canada: University of Toronto, McMaster University, University of Ottawa, McGill University, Hopital de Sainte Justine (Universite de Montreal)

In the United Kingdom: University of Nottingham, University of Manchester, University of Sheffield, Royal Holloway University of London, University of Southampton, University of Oxford, London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

In Ireland: University College, Cork, Trinity College, Dublin

In Australia: Monash University, University of Newcastle, Macquarie University, University of Sydney, University of Adelaide

In New Zealand: University of Auckland

In Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

In Uruguay: Universidad de la Republica

In Austria: Medizinische Universität, Wien and Medizinische Universität, Graz

In Belgium: University Hospital, Leuven

In Bosnia-Herzegovina: Institute for Genetic Engineering

In Cyprus: University of Nicosia

In Finland: University of Helsinki

In France: University of Nantes, University Hospital of Rouen and others

In Germany: Institute of Human Genetics, Universitatsklinikum Tubingen, and several others.

In Greece: University of Athens

In Italy: University of Bologna, University La Sapienza

In Malta: Mater Dei Hospital

In the Netherlands: Maastricht University

In Norway: Haukeland University Hospital

In Poland: Jagiellonian University Medical College and Wroclaw Medical University

In Romania: University of Medicine and Pharmacy Iuliu Hatiegau and University Hospital St. Spiridon

In Serbia:University of Belgrade

In Spain: Autonomous University of Barcelona

In Sweden: University of Gothenburg, Karolinska Institutet

In Switzerland: Universitätsspital Zürich

In the Netherlands: Maastricht University

In Israel: Ben-Gurion University, Tel Aviv University

In Japan: Tohoku University

In China: Peking Union Medical College

In India: Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences

In Singapore: National University of Singapore

While the frustrations of severe and/or unpredictable symptoms day after day certainly lead many of us to lament that progress is simply not moving fast enough, the fact is that there are many fine researchers who have been working hard, many for decades of their careers, in putting irritable bowel syndrome on the map as a serious field of study. Collectively, they have learned quite a lot that was not recognized about IBS fifty or even five years ago. They recognize that IBS is a massive global problem with potential physical, emotional, social, and financial impact on those of us affected, our families and friends, and society. They deserve our thanks, our support, our constructive feedback, and our publicity in the hope that they will have the means to  continue to find answers and assistance for us in the years to come.


UNC 2014 Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders Patient Symposium Videos Now Online

December 19, 2014

The University of North Carolina Center for Functional GI and Motility Disorders  recently announced the expansion of its public online video archive to include broadcasts from its 2014 Patient Symposium, which took place in Washington, DC on June 22-23, 2014. This event included presentations and panel discussions from a variety of leading FGID professionals on many aspects of the broad topics The Patient Experience of Functional GI Disorders, Upper GI Disorders, Lower GI Disorders and Complementary Treatments.The presentations and discussions have now been edited into 19 separate videos ranging in length from approximately 15 minutes to approximately 35 minutes. They can be viewed online free of charge at the following link.

IBS Impact encourages readers to browse and share these high quality, current and state of the science resources and educate themselves and others about various aspects of functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome. We also thank the UNC Center for its long commitment to increasing access to high quality awareness and education for FGIMD-affected people, families, health care professionals and the general public, and to all the participating presenters from UNC and elsewhere for their time and work on behalf of the FGIMD-affected community.

Online Survey: IFFGD, University of Michigan, Drossman Center, Patient-Doctor Relationships in IBS, December 2014

December 6, 2014
IFFGD, the University of Michigan and the Drossman Center for the Education and Practice of Biopsychosocial Care, are seeking adults with irritable bowel syndrome for an anonymous online survey. The results will be used to improve patient-physician relationships in the context of care for IBS. Participants must be age 18 or over, residents of the U.S. or Canada, have irritable bowel syndrome, and have seen a gastroenterologist within the last 6 months. It is estimated that the questions will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. The link to access the survey can be found here: IFFGD, University of Michigan, Drossman Center Patient-Physician Relationship Survey. Those who complete the survey will be entered into a random drawing for one of 30 $100 Visa gift cards, and contacted by email if their email address is chosen. This listing is summarized from a recent announcement on the IFFGD website. Any questions or concerns about the study should be communicated directly to the study coordinator, Lina Nahlawi, Univ of Michigan Health System at
While IBS Impact attempts to highlight a diversity of available opportunities, this is not intended as an exhaustive resource. Previous posts on open surveys and clinical trials for IBS can be found by clicking the clinical trials category in the blog archives on the upper right sidebar of this blog. We also have a page for IBS studies on the main IBS Impact site. Because studies stop accepting new volunteers or are completed over time, please check the post date on this blog, or the last update date on studies page, to verify that the study you are interested in is relatively recent rather than from a few years ago. Depending on how you accessed this blog, the post date will appear either at the top or at the bottom of the post, and is occasionally included in the post title. On the studies page on the main site, the date of the last update is at both the top and the bottom of the page. The research and links pages and the July 26, 2011 post provide additional general resources. We welcome researchers affiliated with academic, medical or pharmaceutical entities, or reputable organizations representing IBS or related or commonly overlapping conditions, to contact us directly with additional studies they wish to be considered for posting or if an existing listing needs to be updated. Contact links for the founder/listowner and the webmaster can be found on the home page of the main IBS Impact website. IBS Impact makes these study announcements available for general information, and encourages its members and site visitors to make their own individual, informed choices about their potential participation in any study. IBS Impact, as an entity, is not directly affiliated with any research sponsor and receives no funding from any source for studies or links we feature on this blog, the main site or social media.