Gastrointestinal (GI) MRI

GI MRI research group

Who we are and what we do

We are an established multi-disciplinary research group encompassing gastroenterology and MRI physics.

We develop new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods that we can use to study how the gut works, and how this function is changed in disease and in response to foods and to drugs.

We collaborate with academic physiologists, food scientists, surgeons, pharmaceutical scientists, sport scientists and partners from the food and pharmaceutical industries in the UK and across the world.

A collection of scans and photos from the GI MRI Research Group



Over the last 3 decades we have established MRI as a non-invasive method of quantifying key aspects of normal healthy gut function and how it is altered in disease.

We have developed and validated a range of MRI methods of measuring key parameters including gastric emptying, small bowel water content, motility of the small and large bowel, colonic volume and water content, and transit time. We also study bowel wall permeability and bowel wall inflammation and fibrosis. We take a whole-body approach when required, for instance studying brain/GI interactions. We use these measures to study postprandial fluid fluxes and the gastro-colonic response to feeding.

We use this to study

  1. physical factors in food influencing digestion and satiety, including imaging of food and beverages.
  2. the mode of action and the impact of therapeutic drugs (eg laxatives) and food substances in the treatment of bowel disorders
  3. disorders of gut function and define mechanisms and subtypes for a range of disorders affecting the GI tract including irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, constipation, coeliac disease, scleroderma, and cystic fibrosis.

Current projects

  • ENERGISE: Improving tolerance for FODMAPs using modified celluloses: defining the role of gelation in reducing gas production in vitro and in vivo. MRC funded Experimental Medicine Grant starting 2022. 
  • Using MRI to study the effect of a stimulant laxatives on gut secretions, water content and motility of both the large and small bowel
  • MERIT: Studying structural and functional bowel abnormalities in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Using MRI to study the pathophysiology of cystic fibrosis including impaired pancreatic secretions and impaired gut motility
  • Using MRI to assess the response to new drugs, shown to significantly improve lung function in cystic fibrosis but whose effect on the pancreas and gut is as yet unknown
  • Developing new MRI methods to quantify gastrointestinal pH and flow through the small bowel using multiple MRI markers, both biological and synthetic
  • Carrying out a meta-analysis of our database of 33 previous studies to understand the variability of measurements in order to accurately power future studies
  • Translating our methods to the paediatric arena
  • Developing a new medical device to study gut transit in paediatric constipation

GI_MRI, Nottingham Digestive Diseases Centre

The University of Nottingham
School of Medicine
Nottingham, NG7 2UH