"Breakthrough" Grant Awarded for Promising Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research

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The Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced the establishment of its Breakthrough Awards Program, which is designed to enable investigators to further their Inflammatory bowel disease research and increase the likelihood of a breakthrough discovery.

A research proposal by Julie A. Champion, Ph.D, an assistant professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Andrew S. Neish, M.D., professor in anatomic pathology at Emory University School of Medicine, will receive $100,000 to continue the promising research that resulted from the foundation through its Innovator Award program last year. The “Breakthrough Awards” are given to existing Kenneth Rainin Foundation funded Innovator Award recipients that have demonstrated significant research progress during their initial year's work.

Over the course of the next year, the team’s research aims to develop effective therapeutics that harness the immunomodulatory properties of bacterial molecules for the treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The hope is that by exploiting the inherent ability of intestinal pathogens to control inflammatory signaling pathways in a person’s own body, that they can adapt bacterial effector or regulatory molecules and use them as an immunotherapy.

“A major challenge in realizing the therapeutic potential of these molecules is the ability to engineer a delivery system capable of delivering protein inside intestinal epithelial cells,” Champion said.

Inflammatory bowel disease is a chronic disorder in which the intestines become inflamed. The cause of inflammatory bowel disease is not known, although researchers believe that the most likely cause is an immune reaction the body has against its own tissues in the intestine. The disease is thought to affect over 1 million Americans. 

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation is a private family foundation that funds inspiring and world-changing work. The Foundation’s mission is to eliminate any suffering from inflammatory bowel disease.  Breakthrough Awards are determined at an annual meeting of Innovator Awardees with the foundation’s scientific advisory board and other board members. The Innovator Awards Program is open to tenure track professors at all levels from any scientific discipline and from any non-profit research institutions worldwide. Interdisciplinary collaborations, like this proposal by Georgia Tech and Emory, are important to the Foundation.


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