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Digestive Diseases

Digestive Diseases and Nutrition

Digestive diseases are among the leading causes of doctor visits, hospitalizations, and disability in the United States each year. These conditions span a wide spectrum of disorders that affect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas, as well as obesity and other nutrition-related disorders. Some digestive diseases, such as celiac disease, can be triggered by the body’s reaction to certain foods. Digestive diseases can cause serious complications ranging from severe pain to elevated risk of cancer to liver failure. (For more information on liver diseases, please see the Liver Disease research page.)

NIDDK-supported scientists are investigating the complex interactions among the genetic, environmental, immune, microbial, and other factors that contribute to the development of inflammatory bowel diseases and other digestive disorders. This research, in turn, may lead to improved diagnosis and prevention approaches, and catalyze the design of novel therapeutic strategies.

NIDDK also supports research to better understand the genes that predispose individuals to develop celiac disease, which may improve early diagnosis of the disease, before damage occurs. NIDDK-funded scientists are working on how GI microorganisms influence the development and function of the digestive tract and immune and metabolic functions.

NIDDK, along with other NIH, federal, and non-federal partners, is also continuing efforts to address goals for advancing digestive diseases research in the NIH-led National Commission on Digestive Diseases research plan.

In addition, NIDDK has congressional authorization for the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, which provides services via the NIDDK Health Information Center. NIDDK responds to questions and provides health information about digestive diseases to people with digestive diseases and to their families, health professionals, and the public.

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What We Do

To achieve its mission, NIDDK supports, conducts, coordinates, and plans research. NIDDK also provides data and samples from NIDDK-funded studies and explains research findings to health professionals and the public.

Conduct Research

NIDDK investigators conduct biomedical research and training in the Institute's laboratories and clinical facilities in Maryland and Arizona.

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Coordinate & Plan Research

Provide Access to Research Resources

NIDDK makes publicly supported resources, data sets, and studies available to researchers.

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Provide Health Information

NIDDK provides patient education information, practice tools for diagnosis and treatment, and statistics.

Last Reviewed May 2024