Common diseases

Although there is no formal definition, common diseases are those that most frequently affect us and are often those with which we are most familiar.

Graphic of people outlines coloured to indicate common diseases


The NIHR BioResource supports major, national, large-scale projects in common disease research, each led by national/international experts.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) BioResource

In the UK, over 500,000 people live with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (together known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD). These conditions are characterised by debilitating abdominal symptoms and, in their severe forms, have a major adverse impact on health and quality of life.

The IBD BioResource aims to

  • find the causes of Crohn’s and colitis
  • uncover factors that determine the severity of IBD or determine response to treatment
  • help to develop new treatments.

In our research, we try to understand which genes and environmental factors are involved and what impact they have on the immune system. We can use this knowledge to investigate why some people get Crohn’s or colitis and why some of the existing treatments work in some patients but not in others.

More than 34,000 patients have joined the IBD BioResource. We aim to recruit at least 50,000 participants from more than 100 NHS Trusts within the UK.

Read more about IBD

Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Diseases (IMID) BioResource

IMIDs are a range of diseases that lack a defined cause, but share responses of inflammation. They cause a significant burden of disease in the UK population.

IMID BioResource recruitment focuses on three common IMIDs: spondyloarthropathies (which include psoriasis), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

We aim to help research into the causes of Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Diseases and understand the factors that determine severity of IMID and treatment response.

IMIDs are the latest common diseases to form part of the NIHR BioResource, started in September 2020. The study is managed by three Biomedical Research Centres, in Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.  Recruitment is national, currently at 69 NHS sites.

Our target is to recruit 16,000 patients.

We started recruiting participants in October 2020.

Read about our first patient

Mental Health BioResource

In the NIHR Mental Health BioResource, we focus specifically on understanding the biology of mental illness and improving treatments. Depression and anxiety have a significant impact on quality of life and can be chronic and disabling.

The Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression (GLAD) study is the largest ever study of anxiety and depression.

Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health disorders worldwide.  One in three people in the UK will experience symptoms during their lifetime. The GLAD study will give us better understanding, so that we can find effective treatments and improve the lives of people experiencing these disorders.

More than 80,000 people have registered to be part of the GLAD study. Of these, more than 45,000 have given their consent. Our goal for this study is to collect 40,000 samples for processing.

Read more about GLAD

The Eating Disorders Genetics Initiative (EDGI) is led by the Mental Health BioResource, part of the NIHR BioResource.  

EDGI aims to better understand the genetic and environmental links to eating disorders and help develop better treatments. Eating disorders including Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder are common, affecting around 10% of the population, with a substantial burden on healthcare and with considerable unmet medical needs.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rates of all psychiatric disorders. Only about half of sufferers will achieve remission with current available treatments, highlighting the need for greater understanding of causes and approaches to treatment. This resource will be of tremendous value to research, nationally and internationally.

Find out more about EDGI

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) BioResource

NAFLD is a common disorder and refers to a group of conditions where there is accumulation of excess fat in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol. It is now the most common cause of liver disease in Western countries and affects approximately 30-40% of the UK population.

In the NAFLD BioResource we focus on participants who specifically have NAFLD. Our aim is to help research into the causes of NAFLD and understand if there are any indicators or patterns that can be linked to severity of NAFLD or response to treatment. By doing this, we can begin to identify better treatments to reduce the effects of NAFLD, or potentially provide a cure.

NAFLD BioResource started recruiting in December 2019 at Birmingham University Hospitals, with Nottingham opening in January, and Newcastle to open next. The pilot phase will be followed by a national roll out.

Our target recruitment is 7,500 patients.

Learn more about the NAFLD BioResource

How can you join the BioResource?

We are able to recruit participants to our common disease studies only through a referral by a clinician.

However, you can still contribute to the BioResource: there is more information in our sections on our Healthy populations and how to join the BioResource.

If you are a member of the BioResource you can also help us by joining our National Participant Advisory Group (NPAG)

We also work on rare diseases to identify their genetic causes, to improve diagnosis and support work to develop and validate treatments. 

Learn more about our Rare Disease work.