The Kenneth Rainin Foundation of Oakland, California, is known for its philanthropic efforts in the areas of the arts, childhood literacy, and fighting chronic disease. Specifically, its vision involves furthering the sustainable arts community in the Bay Area, having all Oakland children reading at grade level, and working toward a world where no one suffers from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Since 2010, the foundation has awarded 99 grants to IBD researchers totaling over $11 million. At the end of September, the KRF announced it was awarding $3 million in grants to the newest research focused on IBD.
The Innovator and Breakthrough Awards programs will fund the grants for several areas of IBD research, with 27 grant recipients across both programs. Some of the areas of research funded by these grants will include immunity and inflammation, the gut microbiome, diet and nutrition, novel therapeutics, genetics, and other IBD risk factors. The goal of the foundation is to provide funding at the early stages of research, when it is needed the most.
One of the researchers mentioned by the foundation’s press release was Hyun Jung Kim, Ph.D., of the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Kim specializes in the area of cellular and biomolecular engineering. The grant will allow the continuation of Dr. Kim’s work on what he calls the “Crohn’s Disease-on-a-Chip” model. In essence, the chip model, if it works, would allow researchers to measure the effect of microbiota fecal transplant prior to the actual clinical procedure.
**What this means for IBD patients is a great deal of hope for the future. The more funding and research that goes into this often difficult to treat disease, the better understood it will become. Parlaying that understanding into better treatments — and perhaps even a cure in the future — is the best hope we have for the 1.6 million Americans currently coping with this illness.
Jennifer has a bachelor's degree in dietetics as well as graduate work in public health and nutrition. She has worked with families dealing with digestive disease, asthma and food allergies for the past 12 years. Jennifer also serves the Board of Directors for Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER).