Cincinnati Children’s Receives NIH Grant To Lead Multicenter Consortium on Eosinophilic Disorders

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center has received a 5-year, $6.25 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to lead a consortium of organizations from around the country that will conduct clinical research into eosinophilic disorders and train investigators in how to conduct clinical research.

Eosinophilic disorders are chronic inflammatory disorders. These conditions are thought to be triggered by allergic hypersensitivity to certain foods and an over-accumulation in the gastrointestinal tract of white blood cells called eosinophils (part of the body’s immune system). Eosinophilic disorders can cause a variety of gastrointestinal complaints including reflux-like symptoms, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, tissue scarring, fibrosis, the formation of strictures, diarrhea, abdominal pain, failure to grow in childhood and other medical complications.

When inflammation is in the esophagus, the condition is known as eosinophilic esophagitis. When it is in the stomach, the condition is called eosinophilic gastritis. When it is in the colon, it is known as eosinophilic colitis. Although most prior work on these conditions has focused on eosinophilic esophagitis, the new grant will also focus on eosinophilic gastritis and colitis.

“These are painful, lifelong diseases that make it difficult or impossible for individuals to eat many or all foods,” says Marc Rothenberg, MD, PhD, director of the Cincinnati Center for Eosinophilic Disorders at Cincinnati Children’s and principal investigator on the grant. “Individuals with these diseases often have to fuel their bodies by drinking costly formulas. We will collaborate with researchers, patients and patient advocacy groups to better understand, treat and educate about these diseases.”

The grant funds and establishes a Consortium of Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease Researchers referred to by the acronym CEGIR. In addition to Dr. Rothenberg, the grant will be orchestrated by Glenn Furuta, MD, director of the Gastrointestinal Eosinophilic Diseases Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado and professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, who will serve as the grant’s administrative director.

CEGIR will also include clinical researchers from Rady Children’s Hospital, Lurie Children’s Hospital, Northwestern University, Riley Children’s Hospital, the National Institutes of Health, Tufts University, University of North Carolina, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Bern University Switzerland.

These sites were chosen on the basis of their previous record of collaboration; expertise in relevant clinical specialties, including gastroenterology, allergy, immunology and pathology; the ability to integrate children and adult patients into the consortium; and their well-established record of excellence in clinical research. These sites are considered the major centers working on these diseases and provide clinical care to more than 8000 patients with the diseases being studied.  

The CEGIR will also work with a number of strong patient advocacy groups, including the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED), the Campaign Urging Research for Eosinophilic Disease (CURED), and the Eosinophilic Family Coalition (EFC).

"Collaborative research is critical for progress in understanding and treating these rare diseases,” says Dr. Furuta. “Little could be accomplished without the support of patients and patient advocacy groups, our professional networks, and clinicians and researchers from around the globe. These conditions are a global health concern, and it will take everyone working together to address them. We are so fortunate to be able to formalize these collaborations through this new consortium and the stellar infrastructure and processes of the Rare Disease Research Network.”

The NIH grant (U54AI117804) is believed to be the first to establish a network focusing on these three distinct diseases. The funding specifically will further research and clinical expertise, train clinical investigators, pilot clinical research projects, and provide access to information related to eosinophilic disorders for basic and clinical researchers, physicians, patients and the lay public. The grant is funded by the Office of Rare Diseases Research, which is part of the NIH’s National Center for Advance Translational Studies, as part of the Rare Disease Research Network.

This award is co-funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Related links

Rothenberg lab 

Rothenberg lab Facebook page 

Cincinnati Center for Eosinophilic Disorders 

Cincinnati Center for Eosinophilic Disorders Facebook page 

About Cincinnati Children’s

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center ranks third in the nation among all Honor Roll hospitals in U.S.News & World Report’s 2014 Best Children’s Hospitals. It is also ranked in the top 10 for all 10 pediatric specialties. Cincinnati Children’s, a non-profit organization, is one of the top three recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health, and a research and teaching affiliate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The medical center is internationally recognized for improving child health and transforming delivery of care through fully integrated, globally recognized research, education and innovation. Additional information can be found at Connect on the Cincinnati Children’s blog, via Facebook and on Twitter.

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Jim Feuer