Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation Awards $1.2 Million to Four UCLA Researchers in IBD

Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation Awards $1.2 Million to Four UCLA Researchers in IBD

Four UCLA researchers conducting early-stage research into inflammatory bowel disease have received four three-year grants totaling $1.2 million from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

The grants bring to more than $7 million the foundation’s support for UCLA’s IBD Research Center.

The recipients are:

  • Dr. Hon Wai Koon, an associate professor of medicine. He will test a bacteria-fighting peptide, or protein component, that could help ease intestinal scarring, a common complication of IBD that there are no effective treatments for.
  • Dr. Jill May Hoffman, an assistant professor of medicine. She will explore how the enteric nervous system, which scientists call the body’s second brain, can promote wound healing and remission of IBD.
  • Dr. Ka Man Law, an assistant professor of medicine. He will look at a protein’s role in regulating intestines’ permeability, which causes loss of nutrients. The goal is to identify a genetic mechanism that an IBD treatment can target.
  • Dr. Kai Fang, an assistant project scientist. He will investigate how IBD develops, starting with  microRNAs’ role in genes’ production of protein. He will also look at the role that molecules called neuropeptides, which help neurons communicate with each other, play in the genes’ regulation.

“More than 5 million people around the world struggle with inflammatory bowel disease,” Gerun Riley, president of the Broad Foundation, said in a press release. “It’s a privilege to support scientists whose research will improve lives.”

“The Broad Foundation gift will help our scientists generate preliminary evidence for innovative projects,” said Charalabos Pothoulakis, head of UCLA’s IBD Research Center. “The grant is vital to addressing the financial challenges faced by our researchers as they embark on and sustain their work in IBD.”

Since its founding in 2007, the center’s scientists have helped discover two drugs to treat IBD and published 107 papers dealing with the disorder.

The Broad Foundation started supporting IBD researchers 20 years ago after creating the Broad Medical Research Program to invest in early-career scholars pursuing innovative research. The foundation has awarded more than $43 million in research grants. And recipients have gone on to receive more than $142 million in additional funding.

The foundation also supported the creation of the Broad Institute, a genomic medicine research institute that uses the power of genomics to understand human disease. The foundation committed $700 to the creation of the Broad Institute. Its partners include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

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