Theresa Alenghat receives 2015 AGA-CCFA-Janssen Research Award in IBD Epigenetics Research

The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), in partnership with the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) and Janssen Biotech, Inc. (Janssen), announced today that Theresa Alenghat, VMD, PhD, from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, OH, was awarded with the 2015 AGA-CCFA-Janssen Research Award in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Epigenetics Research.

Dr. Alenghat, the inaugural recipient of this award, will receive $100,000 per year for three years to study the role of epigenetics in the development of IBD. Epigenetics -- referring to modifications of DNA and DNA-associated proteins due to any number of patient and environmental factors -- is an active area of research in IBD and a wide range of other diseases. The promise of epigenetics comes from the knowledge that epigenomic changes regulate gene expression in response to environmental triggers without altering the genetic sequence. Therefore, epigenetics represent an important, potentially reversible, target for IBD treatments.

"With this grant, I will have the resources to conduct both basic and translational research initiatives to test how bacteria trigger changes in the epigenome during the development of IBD," said Dr. Alenghat, who serves as assistant professor in the division of immunobiology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. "These novel insights may guide the development of more effective and tailored therapeutic approaches for managing IBD."

Specifically, Dr. Alenghat will be testing the hypothesis that dysregulation of epigenomic modifications, in combination with alterations in the microbiota, drive the development and progression of IBD.

More than 1.6 million Americans live with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, the two diseases that fall under the IBD umbrella. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are painful, medically incurable illnesses that attack the digestive system. Crohn's disease may attack anywhere along the digestive tract (mouth to anus), while ulcerative colitis only occurs in the large intestine (colon). Symptoms may include abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fever, fatigue and weight loss. Many patients require hospitalization and surgery. These illnesses can cause severe complications, including colon cancer in patients with long-term disease.


American Gastroenterological Association


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