Case Western Reserve School of Medicine Receives $2.5M NIH Grant to Study Intestinal Inflammation

CLEVELAND - Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has received a $2.5 million grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestives and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to study intestinal inflammation.

The five-year grant from the institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will enable the continued advancement of groundbreaking research, ultimately fueling the development of new treatments for conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Fabio Cominelli, MD, PhD, the Hermann Menges, Jr. Chair in Internal Medicine, professor of medicine and pathology, chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Liver Disease at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and, director of the Digestive Health Institute at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, and, Theresa Pizarro, PhD, associate professor of pathology, are principal investigators of the grant.

For nearly two decades, Drs. Cominelli and Pizarro have pioneered research in the field of cytokines, the messenger proteins that regulate the body’s immune responses, and, intestinal mucosal inflammation, with the support of the NIDDK.

Their discoveries have contributed to the development of new therapies for patients suffering from Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, including antibodies against tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a cytokine involved in systemic inflammation. The renewal grant is designed to investigate the role of novel TNF-like factors such as TL1A and TWEAK in the pathogenesis of intestinal inflammation and augments the potential of developing additional new treatments for patients suffering from these devastating diseases.

"During this time of economic crisis and budget reductions we feel particularly fortunate to continue to receive NIH funding for our research program and we are grateful for the support from the NIDDK" states Dr. Cominelli.

Inflammatory bowel diseases, which include Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammation of the intestines, and, ulcerative colitis, a condition that causes ulcers to develop in the rectum and colon, affect approximately 1.4 million individuals in the United States and several million people worldwide, according to Dr. Cominelli.

The research funded by the renewal grant will contribute to a great understanding of how cytokines work to mediate intestinal inflammation and disease.

Dr. Cominelli and Dr. Pizarro hope their continued research efforts will contribute to more successful therapies and an eventual cure for patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

Founded in 1843, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the largest medical research institution in Ohio and is among the nation's top medical schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. The School of Medicine is recognized throughout the international medical community for outstanding achievements in teaching. The School's innovative and pioneering Western Reserve2 curriculum interweaves four themes--research and scholarship, clinical mastery, leadership, and civic professionalism--to prepare students for the practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century. Nine Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the School of Medicine.

Annually, the School of Medicine trains more than 800 MD and MD/PhD students and ranks in the top 25 among U.S. research-oriented medical schools as designated by U.S. News & World Report's "Guide to Graduate Education."

The School of Medicine is affiliated with University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, MetroHealth Medical Center, the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic, with which it established the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in 2002.