The Kenneth Rainin Foundation recently announced that it has granted $2.9 million for research projects in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that comprise, for the first time, studies examining the impact of nutrition and diet on patients with the disease. Award recipients were nominated from an international and competitive pool of candidates for research projects that have the potential to produce new discoveries and further understanding of IBD.
“There is an inherent element of risk when scientists introduce innovative projects and creative ideas for research. Our grants underscore our commitment to investing early in novel approaches, and our belief that collaboration among investigators and across disciplines can have the greatest impact in research,” said Dr. Jennifer Rainin, CEO of the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, in a press release. “We remain more focused than ever on the big picture: Finding a cure for IBD.”
The Foundation’s three health award research programs — Breakthrough Awards, Innovator Awards, and Synergy Awards — offer financial grants for a wide range of clinical and scientific projects usually not qualified for financial support from more conventional funding sources because of their pioneering nature.
“We’re broadening and expanding our portfolio of research projects, and for the first time awarded funding for projects that focus on diet and nutrition,” noted Dr. Averil Ma, chair of the Rainin Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board and Chief of Gastroenterology at the University of California, San Francisco. “Patients with IBD can be quite sensitive to changes in their diets, and we want to encourage more research in this area to better understand when and how diet changes the course of IBD.”
Three nutrition and diet-related projects received funding through the Foundation’s Innovator Awards, which support proof of principle studies.
“The role of diet in IBD is a profoundly under-researched area. This Innovator Award will allow us, for the first time, to assess whether specific dietary changes alter the gut bacteria and inflammation in people with IBD, and importantly whether their gut symptoms and quality of life improve,” said Dr. Kevin Whelan, Professor of Dietetics at King’s College London.
According to the press release, the 2015 Innovator Awards include:
- Mohamed Abou Donia, PhD, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
- Michel Bagnat, PhD, Duke University, Durham, NC
- Gregory Barton, PhD, University of California, Berkeley
- Lars Bode, PhD, University of California, San Diego
- Iliyan Iliev, PhD, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA
- Kate Jeffrey, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital Research Institute, Boston, MA
- Dan Littman, MD, PhD, New York University, New York, NY
- Timothy Lu, MD, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, MA
- Gabriel Rabinovich, PhD, Fundacion Instituto de Biologia y Medicina Experimental, Buenos Aires, Argentina
- David Suskind, MD, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle, WA
- Kevin Whelan, PhD, King’s College London, London, UK
The Foundation’s Synergy Awards fund pioneering research projects and encourage researchers within different fields of knowledge to pool their resources and talents toward an investigation objective that would not be otherwise conceivable. It is open solely to attendees of the Foundation’s annual Innovations Symposium.
“The Synergy Award is a unique opportunity for our group to join efforts with Dr. Stephen Hanauer, a leader in clinical aspects of IBD, and pursue a novel idea for understanding this disease and potential therapies for treatment,” said Dr. Thea Tlsty, Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of California, San Francisco. “We are excited and grateful for this opportunity and hope that we can contribute to the broader understanding of IBD.”
Three teams of researchers were nominated for this year’s Synergy Awards, according to the announcement:
- Eugene Chang, MD, University of Chicago, Illinois; and Stephen Hanauer , MD, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
- Thea Tlsty, PhD, University of California, San Francisco; Stephen Hanauer, MD, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL; and Scott VandenBerg, MD, PhD, University of California, San Francisco
- Richard Maizels, PhD, University of Edinburgh, Scotland; Megan Levings, PhD, University of British Columbia; and Steven Ziegler, PhD, Benaroya Research Institute, Seattle, WA
The Foundation’s Breakthrough Awards offer multi-year financial support to Innovator Award recipients who have shown significant progress in advancing their original research hypotheses.
“This Breakthrough Award will enable us to pursue a high-risk, discovery-focused project that has the potential to offer completely new therapeutic approaches for treatment of IBD,” noted Dr. Jeff Karp, Associate Professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School.
According to the announcement, the 2015 Breakthrough Award recipients are:
- Sean Fielding Brady, PhD, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY
- Andrea Cerutti, MD, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY
- Alexander V. Chervonsky, MD, PhD, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
- Marco Colonna, MD, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
- Gerard Eberl, PhD, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France
- Katherine Fitzgerald, PhD, University of Massachusetts, Worcester, MA
- Jeffrey Karp, PhD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA
- Daniel Mucida, PhD, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY
- José Henrique Veiga Fernandes, DVM, PhD, Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Lisboa, Portugal.