2015-02-13 15:37:27 UTC

New Partnership Provides Support for Epigenetics Research in Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

AGA, CCFA and Janssen Biotech Announce New Grant Program

CONTACT: Rachel Steigerwald

Bethesda, MD (Feb. 13, 2015) — The AGA Institute, in partnership with the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) and Janssen Biotech, Inc. (Janssen), has announced a new grant program to promote research and understanding of the interrelated genetic and environmental factors involved in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The three-year grant will support a promising junior investigator studying the role of epigenetics in the development or treatment of IBD. Epigenetics — referring to changes in DNA related to any number of patient and environmental factors — is an active area of research in IBD and a wide range of other diseases.

“Epigenetic research could be an important part of approaches to understanding the complex interactions between genetic and environmental factors — for example, diet, bacteria or medications — affecting the development and course of IBD,” comments Caren A. Heller, MD, MBA, CCFA’s chief scientific officer. “This focus of research is a natural fit with CCFA's ongoing Genetics and Microbiome Initiatives, which are ultimately aimed at developing individualized treatment approaches for patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.”

Under the program, AGA, CCFA and Janssen will together provide $100,000 per year for three years to support research on the role of epigenetics in the development or treatment of IBD. Eligible applicants will have completed a gastroenterology training program or received a PhD within the past seven years, and currently hold a faculty position at a North American university. The recipient will be chosen by an independent panel of AGA and CCFA members who are recognized experts in IBD research.

“This line of research promises not just scientific knowledge, but could lead to treatments to improve the lives of patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis,” said Martin Brotman, MD, AGAF, chair, AGA Research Foundation. “We’re thrilled to partner with CCFA and Janssen to support young researchers to advance our knowledge in this important new avenue of research.”

Information on how to apply for the AGA-CCFA-Janssen Research Award in IBD Epigenetics Research can be found at agaccfaresearch.ccfa.org. Full applications are due on March 15, with notification of the award-winning recipient by June 15.

“At Janssen, our focus is on understanding the triggers of inflammatory bowel disease so that we can develop new, targeted therapeutics and scientific strategies to intercept the disease,” said Scott Plevy, MD, inflammatory bowel disease leader, Immunology Therapeutic Area, Janssen Research & Development, LLC. “We are also committed to developing the next generation of researchers who can bring innovative, diverse insights forward that will one day benefit people living with these life-changing diseases.”

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, while ulcerative colitis inflames only 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. Some 1.6 million American adults and children suffer from Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. 

About the AGA Institute

The American Gastroenterological Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, the AGA has grown to include more than 16,000 members from around the globe who are involved in all aspects of the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology. The AGA Institute administers the practice, research and educational programs of the organization. www.gastro.org.

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About the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America 

The Crohn's& Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) is the largest voluntary non-profit health organization dedicated to finding cures for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). CCFA’s mission is to cure Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults who suffer from these diseases. The Foundation works to fulfill its mission by funding research, providing educational resources for patients and their families, medical professionals, and the public, and furnishing supportive services for those afflicted with IBD. For more information, visit www.ccfa.org, call 888-694-8872, like us on Facebook, find us on LinkedIn or follow us on Twitter and Pinterest. 

About the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies

At Janssen, we are dedicated to addressing and solving some of the most important unmet medical needs of our time in oncology, immunology, neuroscience, infectious diseases and vaccines, and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Driven by our commitment to patients, we develop innovative products, services and healthcare solutions to help people with serious diseases throughout the world. Beyond its innovative medicines, Janssen is at the forefront of developing education and public policy initiatives to ensure patients and their families, caregivers, advocates and healthcare professionals have access to the latest treatment information, support services and quality care. Please visit www.janssen.com for more information.