Mayo Clinic announced today that it will receive funding through the Biomarkers of Gut Function and Health program within the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative. This initiative was launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to overcome persistent bottlenecks preventing the creation of new and better health solutions for the developing world. William Faubion, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, will continue to pursue a research project titled "Gut Permeability in Environmental Enteropathy."
"Our team at Mayo Clinic is excited about the opportunity to impact this devastating global health problem, and given this unique partnership between our pediatric population and that of the developing world, this project will truly be about kids helping kids," says Dr. Faubion.
The goal of the Biomarkers of Gut Function grant program is to identify and validate biomarkers that can assess gut function and guide new ways to improve the health and development of children in the developing world.
Dr. Faubion's project is one of seven grants recently announced.
"Safeguarding the health of young children is one of the world's most urgent priorities and a core focus of our work," says Chris Wilson, Director of Discovery & Translational Sciences at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We hope the suite of grants announced today will give us a deeper understanding of the reasons underlying stunted growth in children in the developing world and how this can be predicted to guide new approaches to improve the health and development of these children."
Environmental enteropathy is a disease of the small intestines of infants. It is a condition that affects approximately 146 million infants in developing countries. The condition disturbs digestion and absorption of nutrients, which leaves the infants malnourished. This malnourishment inhibits growth and development, which affects the children throughout their lifetimes. "These kids never reach their full potential," explains Dr. Faubion. "The trouble for physicians is how to identify the infants with enteropathy." This study hopes to define a simple test that can be used to identify afflicted infants.