2016 IBD Highlights

Patient Expert
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Every year, it seems the Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis communities are making progress to bring awareness to our diseases; scientists are making progress to better treatments; and the world is becoming more educated to the fact that irritable bowel disease (IBD) is not just a "bathroom disease."

Here are some highlights from the IBD community in 2016:

  • New treatments: 2016 was another big year for new treatments for IBD. Entyvio was approved for use in Crohn’s disease to go along with it already being approved for ulcerative colitis. Stelara has been approved for treating both forms of IBD. And new treatments are being developed which will be available in coming years.

  • Beyond the bathroom awareness: The Intense Intestines Foundation raised awareness to show the world that IBD goes far beyond the bathroom for many patients. This included Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patients sharing one or more symptoms they suffer from, standing just outside of a bathroom to show that IBD impacts the entire body, both physically and mentally.

  • IBD retreats: Girls with Guts held another retreat to allow IBD patients to come together, share their stories, and create everlasting relationships for members of the Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis community. These bonds between IBD members run extremely deep as many patients feel much more comfortable interacting with fellow members.

  • Care pathways: One of the biggest changes that was discussed at 2016's Advances in IBD conference was care pathways, a new patient-care system which can be used to better treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patients and create a higher standard of care around the country, while enabling insurance companies to more readily cover patients.

  • Patients first: One change that was clearly seen at the Advances in IBD conference is a shift in the mindsets of major doctors and IBD centers in understanding what a patient is going through. This includes how Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis is impacting a patient’s entire life. This is a big change from the old thinking of treating the disease first and worrying about the patient later.

  • Diet research: The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America is spending $2.5 million to find out if and how diet can affect Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. This can change the way the medical community and patients look at how certain diets should or shouldn’t be seen as viable options to treat various severities of IBD.

  • "Top down" approach: For years doctors have been treating IBD from the bottom of the “treatment tree” up, starting with steroids and then moving up the tree of treatments as the disease progressed. Now there are studies that show treating IBD from the top down, starting early with biologics or biosimilars, can drastically reduce the progression of a patient's disease and potentially change the direction of patients' lives.

  • Kathleen Baker: Olympic medalist: For many IBD patients it’s tough getting out of bed in the morning, knowing that a day of pain and adversity is ahead. But for Kathleen Baker this wasn’t an option. Kathleen trained every day for years in order to reach the Olympic level with her Crohn’s disease. She swam for the U.S. team in Brazil and won a silver and a gold medal.

  • Personal accomplishment: NYC Marathon: Running isn't easy on a healthy person's body and it's even more difficult for someone with Crohn's disease and an ostomy. Still, I set out to complete all 26.2 miles of the New York City marathon to show my Crohn's disease that it wasn't going to stop me from accomplishing a bucket list item. It wasn't easy and at times it was extremely painful, but I set small goals along the way which led me to overcome my IBD and complete a long-held dream of mine.

2016 was a great year for the IBD community. There were amazing stories and incredible breakthroughs, and even more awareness about Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Now we look to 2017 to make even bigger strides for our community.


Brian Greenberg is founder of the Intense Intestines Foundation. He primarily works as an advocate to help patients with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and ostomies. You can reach Brian on Twitter at @BrianIIF or email at Brian@IntenseIntestines.org. If you would like to connect with the IIF more please visit www.Facebook.com/IntenseIntestines, or www.Twitter.com/NtenseNtestines. And you can join Brian in the conversation about all things IBD on the IBDHealthCentral Facebook page.