News & Events

NIH-funded research network in eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases

10/04/2019
A specialist in eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases (EGIDs) at Tufts Medical Center will continue working on a five-year, $7.75 million clinical research project recently re-funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (specifically, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Center for Advancing Translation Sciences and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases). 

John Leung, MD in a white coat.John Leung, MD, Director of the Center for Food Related Diseases at Tufts Medical Center, will serve as the site investigator of the Consortium of Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease Researchers (CEGIR), re-funded by the NIH grant to research eosinophilic gastrointestinal and allergic disorders and Dr. Leung will involve Tufts Medical Center patients in this research.

Glenn T. Furuta, MD, the director of the Gastrointestinal Eosinophilic Diseases Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado, is the administrative director of CEGIR and states, “CEGIR presents an outstanding opportunity for experts from across the world to continue to perform collaborative clinical research and to train a new generation of investigators.  Research will be guided by patient advocacy groups and results from these studies will bring transformative changes to the care of patients with EGIDs.”

Eosinophilic gastrointestinal 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, which are 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 stomach and either the esophagus and/or intestines, it is called eosinophilic gastroenteritis. When it is in the colon, it is known as eosinophilic colitis. In the previous grant, inflammation in the esophagus, stomach and colon was studied.  The new grant will focus on these 3 conditions in addition to eosinophilic gastroenteritis.

Marc Rothenberg, MD, PhD, director of the Cincinnati Center for Eosinophilic Disorders at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, is the principal investigator on the grant and states, “These are painful, chronic diseases that make it difficult and sometimes impossible for individuals to eat many or all foods.  I look forward to continuing to advance the understanding and better treatment of these diseases by collaborating with outstanding researchers, patients and patient advocacy groups, as well as training the next generation of clinicians and researchers who will be experts in these diseases.”

In addition to Tufts Medical Center and Dr. Furuta’s and Dr. Rothenberg’s sites, CEGIR includes clinical researchers from Rady Children’s Hospital, Lurie Children’s Hospital, Northwestern University,  the National Institutes of Health, University of North Carolina, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Mayo Clinic, University of Arkansas, University of California, University of Colorado at Denver, University of Illinois, University of Pennsylvania, University of Utah and Bern University Switzerland.  

These sites have expertise in relevant clinical specialties, including gastroenterology, allergy, immunology and pathology and the ability to integrate children and adult patients into the consortium.  These sites are considered the major centers working on these diseases, and these sites have access to a comprehensive database of patients.

The CEGIR will also work with 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), to address the clinical problems of most importance to patients and their families.

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About Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children
Tufts Medical Center is an exceptional, not-for-profit, 415-bed academic medical center that is home to both a full-service hospital for adults and Floating Hospital for Children. Conveniently located in downtown Boston, the Medical Center is the principal teaching hospital for Tufts University School of Medicine. The Medical Center features a level one trauma center with rooftop helipad, the largest heart transplant center in New England and a renowned research program, ranking among the top 10 percent of independent hospitals to receive federal research funding. A physician network of 1,800 New England Quality Care Alliance doctors represents our strong commitment to health in the community. Tufts Medical Center is a founding member of Wellforce. For more information, visit www.tuftsmedicalcenter.org.