Research progress in diseases of the exocrine pancreas [chronic pancreatitis (CP), pancreatogenic diabetes mellitus, and pancreatic cancer] has been hampered by the disorders' heterogeneity, the limitations of previous small cross-sectional studies, the inability to safely obtain pancreatic tissue for study, and the lack of structured epidemiology tools, genetic testing, and biomarker development. Mechanism-based research of these diseases has suffered from the lack of systematically collected clinical measures in longitudinal cohort studies linked with biospecimens. Given the increasing incidence and prevalence of CP and its association to the development of pancreatic cancer, its complications, high mortality rate, and associated health care cost, the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Cancer Institute funded the Consortium for the Study of Chronic Pancreatitis, Diabetes and Pancreatic Cancer to identify research gaps and foster multidisciplinary collaborations to better diagnose, characterize, and manage CP and its sequelae. The CPDPC structure, governance, and research objectives are described in this article. Studies undertaken by the CPDPC are described in other articles in this journal's issue.