Battling IBD with super heroes: an interview with Dr James Lindsay

insights from industryDr. James LindsayConsultant Gastroenterologist,
Barts Health NHS Trust

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited has launched IBD Unmasked as a first-of-its-kind global initiative designed to raise awareness of the unsung Super Heroes of the global IBD community.


The company chose to work with the creative geniuses at Marvel Custom Solutions in this unique collaboration - tapping into the power of visual storytelling - to engage a range of audiences around the world in a relevant, innovative way that will help people living with IBD feel more confident in having conversations around the disease.

IBD Unmasked highlights the physical and emotional challenges of IBD and features the IBD Super Hero, Samarium, and a graphic illustration series, while providing support and information to the patient community, including through new resources made available at @IBDunmasked.

In addition to this first chapter of the graphic novel series, also features interactive quizzes, facts, infographic, and an expert Q&A.

More content will be unveiled in the coming weeks and months – including more educational resources, new members of the IBD Unmasked team of Super Heroes, the next chapters in the graphic novel series, and the ability for users to create and share their own heroes.

Background: (provided by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited)

When is IBD typically diagnosed and how does it affect people’s lives?

JOL: IBD (inflammatory Bowel Disease) refers to either Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative colitis, which are a common cause of chronic gut inflammation.

Both conditions result in a burden of unpleasant symptoms and have a major impact on a patient’s quality of life. They can affect people of any age but diagnosis is most common in adolescence and early adulthood.

Living with a chronic disease like IBD may be challenging, isolating, mentally and physically exhausting as well as being embarrassing to discuss.

Because ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD) can impact each individual differently, it’s especially important for people living with these conditions to have an ongoing and open conversation with their healthcare team about what they’re experiencing in order to find the treatment plan that’s best for them.

What are the physical and emotional challenges of IBD?

JOL: More than five million people worldwide live with IBD and will experience a range of symptoms that vary from mild to life changing.  The unpredictability of symptoms is often very troublesome.

The condition can limit everyday activities like getting together with friends and family, study and work. They can have a major impact on social situations such as going out for a meal.

In many cultures, there may also be a lack of public awareness and acceptance. Patients can oftentimes feel isolated, and simply discussing what they go through can be difficult.

IBD unmasked

How do you hope the IBD Unmasked campaign will help people with IBD?

JOL: IBD Unmasked aims to raise awareness and increase support for the global IBD community, and highlight the bravery, strength and determination that they display.

The campaign highlights the physical and emotional challenges of IBD, while providing support and information through new resources made available at  and @IBDunmasked.

The IBD Unmasked website provides useful hints and tips for the friends and relatives of people with IBD.  Sometimes simply letting someone know that you are there to help in whatever way they need – perhaps to talk through a challenge, to help out in other ways when they aren’t feeling well is the first step. While some people living with IBD are forthcoming about their disease, others may feel reluctant to speak up and ask for support.

Do you think the initiative will help tackle stigma around the condition?

JOL: I hope that it will help to address this by opening the conversation, getting people talking, and increasing better understanding of the disease. So yes, I think it will help tackle the stigma of disease.

What support is available for people with IBD?

JOL: It’s important for patients to recognize that there are multiple treatment options available. Each individual’s experience and disease course will be different and may require a different treatment approach.

They should feel empowered to be an active participant in the decision-making process with their physicians or other HCPs to find a treatment plan that works best for them.

What do you think the future holds for people with IBD?

JOL: The goal of managing IBD is to treat active disease and then prevent it coming back, so allowing people to return to a normal life in every way.

There is an ever-evolving landscape of new drugs that we can use to heal the gut, but also an increased understanding of the importance of focusing on symptoms that impact on people’s lives.

Increasing awareness of the disease should allow earlier diagnosis, enhanced communication between patients and their health care team and also support from friends and family.  That can only be a good thing!

Where can readers find more information?

Visit to be inspired and to join forces today!

About Dr James LindsayJames Lindsay

Dr James Lindsay is Consultant Gastroenterologist at Barts Health NHS Trust and Reader in Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Barts and the London School of Medicine.

Along with a full multidisciplinary team he runs the adolescent and adult IBD service at The Royal London Hospital.

He is the E-learning ambassador for the European Crohn’s and Colitis Organization (ECCO), and past chair of the ECCO education committee.

He has chaired working groups for the ECCO consensus on the management of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. He is the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) national societies representative to United European Gastroenterology (UEG).

Dr Lindsay serves on the BSG IBD Clinical Trials Steering Group and is Chief Investigator for a series of investigator-led and commercial clinical trials in IBD.

In addition, he collaborates with two translational research programs: one focuses on the antigen presentation within the mucosal immune system, and the other studies the role microRNA profiles to direct phenotype in IBD.

April Cashin-Garbutt

Written by

April Cashin-Garbutt

April graduated with a first-class honours degree in Natural Sciences from Pembroke College, University of Cambridge. During her time as Editor-in-Chief, News-Medical (2012-2017), she kickstarted the content production process and helped to grow the website readership to over 60 million visitors per year. Through interviewing global thought leaders in medicine and life sciences, including Nobel laureates, April developed a passion for neuroscience and now works at the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, located within UCL.


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The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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