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Foundation Awards Over $3 Million to High-Risk, High Reward IBD Research

Oakland, Calif. – The Kenneth Rainin Foundation has awarded more than $3 million for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) research through its Innovator and Breakthrough Awards programs. Grantees were selected from an international pool of applicants for high-risk projects in basic, translational and clinical research that demonstrate the potential to provide major new insights about IBD.

“Our focus as a funder is to provide support at the early stages of research, before new ideas have been proven, when researchers need it most,” said Dr. Jennifer Rainin, CEO of the Kenneth Rainin Foundation. “Challenging investigators to push boundaries gives us the best chance of achieving breakthroughs in IBD research.”

“Challenging investigators to push boundaries gives us the best chance of achieving breakthroughs in IBD research. ”– Dr. Jennifer Rainin, Rainin Foundation CEO

The Foundation’s grants are awarded to early-career and seasoned investigators pursuing a range of projects that could potentially lead to transformative discoveries about IBD. Select grants fund research that incorporates bioengineering or new technology, such as Dr. Christopher Contag’s research on using Raman-based microendoscopy to detect dysplasia in patients with ulcerative colitis, and Dr. Hyun Jung Kim’s development of “Crohn’s Disease-on-a-Chip” model to measure the effect of fecal microbiota transplant prior to the clinical procedure.

“Our funding strategy encourages tangible and measurable outcomes, said Dr. Averil Ma, chair of the Rainin Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board and Chief of Gastroenterology at the University of California, San Francisco. “We are excited about advancing the understanding of IBD and how this research will lead to translational work that links the science to the patient.”

“Our funding strategy encourages tangible and measurable outcomes.”– Dr. Averil Ma, Rainin Foundation Scientific Advisory Board

The Foundation’s grants will support projects in the areas of novel therapeutics, the microbiome, immunity and inflammation, and genetics and other risk factors in IBD, as well as diet and nutrition-related research through its Innovator Awards, which fund proof of concept research projects.

“This Innovator Award is coming at the perfect time for my lab and will serve as a catalyst for new approaches in investigating the microbiota and immune system,” said Ken Cadwell, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology, New York University.

The 2016 Innovator Awards include:

The Foundation’s Breakthrough Awards provide continued funding to Innovator Award grantees who have demonstrated significant progress in advancing their original research goals.

“Our project is a testimony of the Foundation’s goals to cultivate innovative ideas and fund risky projects that have the potential to change the way we diagnose and treat IBD,” said Mohamed Abou Donia, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University. “We are excited about the additional year of support, which will allow us to capitalize on our initial findings, and further explore microbiome-derived small molecules as potential new diagnostic and therapeutic tools for IBD.”


Grantee David Suskind, MD, Seattle Children’s Hospital, presents research from his double-blind diet controlled trial of the specific carbohydrate diet in pediatric Crohn’s disease at the Rainin Foundation’s 2016 Innovation Symposium.

The 2016 Breakthrough Award recipients are:

“The Rainin Foundation is focused on solving IBD by corralling world-class scientists from diverse disciplines. This distinct approach not only fosters unique perspectives, but it urges cutting edge science to come together for a common goal,” said Kate Jeffrey, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. “Obtaining the Foundation’s funding was the sole impetus for my lab to be able to embark on this novel project. There are very few funding avenues in the science world that support innovation and bold ideas so whole-heartedly as the Rainin Foundation.”

“Obtaining the Foundation’s funding was the sole impetus for my lab to be able to embark on this novel project.”– Dr. Kate Jeffrey, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School

Complementing its grant programs, the Foundation will host its sixth annual Innovations Symposium on July 24–25, 2017, in San Francisco. This event brings together scientific leaders, trainees, researchers and clinicians from around the world to collaborate and learn together to move IBD research forward. Read more about the Symposium at:

Top photo: Rainin Foundation Grantees Kate Fitzgerald, PhD, and Kate Jeffrey, PhD with Maninjay Atianand, PhD and Tahnee Saunders at the 2016 Innovations Symposium. Photo credit: Stephanie Secrest.

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