Professor Alexander Ford

Professor Alexander Ford


My research career commenced in 2002, as MRC-funded fellow on the CUBE study. This was a randomised controlled trial comparing testing for, and treating, Helicobacter pylori with empirical acid suppression for the management of dyspepsia, published in the BMJ in 2008. During this time I also conducted research into the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of eradicating Helicobacter pylori in peptic ulcer disease and uninvestigated dyspepsia. I was awarded my MD in 2006, with my thesis informing the 2004 NICE guideline for dyspepsia, and papers in high-impact journals. This body of work helped change the management of dyspepsia, which affects up to 20% of people in the UK, leading to recommendations to move away from endoscopy as a first-line management strategy.

In 2007 I took a 1-year post as a post-doctoral fellow at McMaster University, Canada, the birthplace of evidence-based medicine, to consolidate my research experience, and allow me to become an independent clinical researcher with an interest in health services research and evidence-based medicine. The work I conducted there changed diagnostic and treatment strategies for irritable bowel syndrome, a functional gastrointestinal disorder. My meta-analyses were the first to assess the performance of symptom-based criteria for the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, and to confirm that tricyclic antidepressants were an effective treatment for the condition.

I returned to the UK in 2008 to complete clinical training, and in 2010 was appointed Associate Professor at the University of Leeds. In 2016, I was promoted to Professor of Gastroenterology.

I collaborate widely with other researchers worldwide, with >450 peer-reviewed publications (>200 original articles) with >600 coauthors. My publications have been cited over 22,000 times, to date, and my h-index on Web of Science is 84 (ID: k-5491-2012). More than 100 of my original articles have been published in 3* journals, or above, including JAMA (1), BMJ (4), Gastroenterology (13), Gut (20), and The American Journal of Gastroenterology (39). My expertise lies in health services and translational (T2) research, focusing on irritable bowel syndrome, a disorder of gut-brain interaction, which, despite being a low priority area for research funding, affects 10% of the UK population, and costs the health service >£1 billion/year. The Rome Foundation, the international organisation dedicated to improving lives of people with disorders of gut-brain interaction, elected me Fellow in 2013, in recognition of my substantial research contribution in this field. In 2020, 2021, and 2022, I was listed as a highly cited researcher by Clarivate/Web of Science, an accolade that identifies academics who produce multiple papers ranking in the top 1% by citations for their chosen field and year of publication, demonstrating significant influence among their peers. This is a list of the top 0.1% of the global research community. I was also the recipient of the Rome Foundation-Aldo Torsoli Foundation award in 2020. This is an annual prize given by the Rome Foundation, in recognition of a substantial contribution to the field of research, education, and patient care in disorders of gut-brain interaction. 

I am principal investigator (PI) or deputy PI on three NIHR-funded trials. I have been awarded >£6 million of grant income as PI, deputy PI, or co-investigator. I have supervised two PhDs, one MD, and two intercalated BSc students to completion. All achieved papers in high-impact journals. I have also provided formal and informal academic mentorship to >20 junior doctors, leading to their first publications. I am an Associate Editor for Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, handling papers dealing with the functional gastrointestinal disorders, and have served on NICE guidelines groups.

Research interests

I am an internationally renowned researcher, and am interested in the natural history, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of gut-brain interaction, such as irritable bowel syndrome and functional dyspepsia. I study the epidemiology of these disorders, as well as how best to treat them using randomised controlled trials design, as well as evidence synthesis techniques, such as systematic review and meta-analysis. I am a leading proponent of evidence-based medicine in UK Gastroenterology.


  • MBChB
  • MD
  • MRCP
  • FRCP
  • RFF

Professional memberships

  • British Society of Gastroenterology
  • Rome Foundation Fellow

Research groups and institutes

  • Leeds Institute of Medical Research at St James's
  • Cancer
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