health Blog

Thank You, Creative Scientific Leaders

Explore the series "Stories of Gratitude" about the people who inspire our work.  

The Rainin Foundation’s Health program is guided by the wisdom and support of our esteemed Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). We are so thankful for our brilliant, passionate and dedicated SAB members: David Artis, Yasmine Belkaid, Tejal Desai, Brett Finlay, Michael Fischbach and Averil Ma.

We are especially grateful for our Board Chair, Dr. Averil Ma, and his continued leadership and incredible commitment to the Foundation. Dr. Ma has been steering us in exciting and promising new directions of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) research since our early days.

How is the Scientific Advisory Board vital to your work?


Scientific Advisory Board members Michael Fischbach and Averil Ma. Photo credit: Mitch Tobias

This group of scientists is not afraid to take big risks with us and is eager to think creatively about how the Foundation can best support promising research that may be new or outside of their areas of expertise, such as research on diet/nutrition and fecal microbiota transplantation. Embracing untested ideas gives us the best chance of discovering breakthroughs in IBD research.

They provide invaluable insight and scientific expertise during our proposal reviews and progress evaluations. They play a key role in helping shape the content and structure of our annual Innovations Symposium by inviting noted experts to talk about how their work relates to IBD. They also advise the Foundation as we develop investment strategies that we hope will ultimately lead to the discovery of a cure for IBD.

Share a time they helped the Health team overcome barriers and reach program goals? 

Scientists are expert observers and like to ask questions because they know a problem can’t be solved until it’s understood. Our SAB recently helped us think through how to increase the number of women scientists we fund, offered insights into the various challenges and barriers that women scientists frequently encounter, and suggested ways to address biases that we may be unintentionally perpetuating.


Scientific Advisory Board members Yasmine Belkaid and Brett Finlay. Photo credit: Doorstep Photography

What does the future look like?

We envision a future where no one suffers from IBD. This enormous goal remains central to how we shape our strategies.

Bidding a fond farewell…

As we close out the year, we extend a heartfelt thank you to Dr. Brett Finlay, one of our first SAB members, who will conclude his term with the Foundation to pursue exciting new ventures. Dr. Finlay’s positive outlook, sense of humor, and intellectual curiosity sustained us throughout his four years on the SAB. We are truly appreciative of his support.

Stories of Gratitude: The People Who Inspire Our Work

Top photo: Kenneth Rainin Foundation staff and Scientific Advisory Board Members. Left to right: Pamela Bentley, Jackie Hausman, Laura Wilson, Jen Rainin, David Artis, Brett Finlay, Yasmine Belkaid, Tejal Desai and Averil Ma. Not pictured Michael Fischbach. Photo credit: Stephanie Secrest

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