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Foundation Awards $3 Million for Innovative IBD Research

Grants will support 30 projects by early-career and seasoned health researchers, including first-time pilot studies.

Oakland, Calif. – The Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced today that it has awarded $3 million for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) research through its Innovator Awards program. Grants will support an international pool of early-career and seasoned researchers to study untested ideas that could lead to breakthrough discoveries about IBD.

Funded projects include an array of basic, translational, and clinical science research related to IBD, such as the microbiome, immunity and inflammation, and diet and nutrition. Grantees receive a $100,000 grant, and those who demonstrate significant progress toward their goals are eligible for an additional two years of support.

“This year’s grantees are pursuing research that has the potential to yield important insights into this chronic disease.” said Dr. Laura Wilson, Director of Health Strategy and Ventures at the Kenneth Rainin Foundation. “Our Innovator Awards provide critical initial support to high-risk research that will help us improve the prevention and prediction, as well as better management of the disease by doctors and patients.”

“Our Innovator Awards provide critical initial support to high-risk research that will help us improve the prevention and prediction, as well as better management of the disease by doctors and patients.”– Dr. Laura Wilson, Director, Health Strategy and Ventures

With this round of grants, the Foundation is supporting an increased number of early-career investigators, new areas of research, and the development of pilot studies that will inform future larger trials. “We pursue the boldest ideas that can truly transform the way we approach this complex disease,” said Dr. Averil Ma, chair of the Rainin Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board and Chief of Gastroenterology at the University of California, San Francisco.

“The generous support of the Kenneth Rainin Foundation will allow us to utilize the most cutting-edge technologies and rapidly advance our project to understand microbial factors that contribute to disease pathogenesis, and ultimately the quality of life of IBD patients,” said Dr. Janelle Arthur, Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

2017 Innovator Award grantees include:

The Foundation will continue supporting 17 Innovator Award grantees from 2015 and 2016 that made significant progress in advancing their original research hypotheses. Several projects, including Dr. David Suskind’s work on low carbohydrate diets in pediatric Crohn’s disease patients, will transition preliminary findings to trials that measure impact on patient management and well-being. “Supporting a project from initial concept to implementation of a trial is exciting. We want to bring science closer to the patient, and these translational projects can have a significant impact on the lives of IBD patients,” said Dr. Wilson.

“Funding from Kenneth Rainin Foundation has been absolutely critical for the progress of our project,” said Dr. Iliyan Iliev, Assistant Professor, Joan and Sanford I. Weill Department of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College. “We were supported from the very beginning, having exciting and promising clinical data in hand, but the rest of the project was conceptual. This project would not have been possible without the Foundation’s support.”

Innovator Awards grantees that received continued support include:

Iliyan Iliev, Kenneth Rainin Foundation, Innovations Symposium

Grantee Iliyan Iliev, PhD, at the Rainin Foundation’s Innovation Symposium. Photo credit: Mitch Tobias

The Foundation also announced that it will host its seventh annual Innovations Symposium, “Basic Science and the Patient – Have You Two Met?,” on July 16-17, 2018, in San Francisco. This event brings together scientific leaders, trainees, researchers and clinicians from around the world to collaborate and learn together to advance IBD research.


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