Texas Children’s now part of national NIH-funded consortium for eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases

The National Institutes of Health renewed a five-year, $7.57 million grant to a multi-institutional Consortium of Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease (CEGIR) to continue clinical research and train the next generation of experts in eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders (EGID). For the first time, Texas Children’s Hospital physicians and Baylor College of Medicine pediatrics faculty are a part of this NIH-funded collaboration. Drs. Carla M. Davis and Anthony Olive are the local co-principal investigators while Drs. Sara Anvari and Eric Chiou are other contributors to this national research effort.

Eosinophilic 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 (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, diarrhea, abdominal pain and failure to grow in childhood. These are painful, long-term conditions that make it difficult and sometimes impossible for individuals to eat many or all foods.

Texas Children’s has offered the only multidisciplinary clinic for EGID in the greater Houston region for the last 10 years. This unique clinic brings together experts in allergy, immunology, gastroenterology and nutrition to treat patients with EGID in a collaborative fashion.

With the participation in this NIH-funded grant, the EGID clinic at Texas Children’s will continue to conduct research and develop clinical expertise, train clinical investigators, pilot clinical research projects, and provide access to information related to eosinophilic disorders for basic and clinical researchers, physicians, patients and the lay public. The team will now also be able to work with a number of strong 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). Moreover, through this multi-institutional collaboration, Texas Children’s patients will have many more opportunities to participate in EGID studies. For instance, as a member of CEGIR, Texas Children’s recruit individuals for the observational study, The Outcome Measures for Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Diseases across Ages (OMEGA) study, a prospective, multicenter observational study to help give researchers and clinicians a better understanding of the correlation of symptoms to clinical measures.

This grant is led by Marc Rothenberg, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Cincinnati Center for Eosinophilic Disorders at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and lead principal investigator on the grant. It is orchestrated by Dr. Glenn Furuta, director of the Gastrointestinal Eosinophilic Diseases Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado and professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

CEGIR also includes clinical researchers from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; Mayo Clinic; University of Arkansas; University of California; Rady Children’s Hospital; Lurie Children’s Hospital; Northwestern University; the NIH; Tufts Medical Center, the University of Colorado at Denver; University of Illinois; University of Pennsylvania; University of North Carolina; University of Utah; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; and Bern University in Switzerland. With their expertise in relevant clinical specialties and ability to integrate children and adult patients into the consortium, these participating sites are considered the major centers working on these diseases.

The grant is funded by the Office of Rare Diseases Research, which is part of the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, as part of the Rare Disease Research Network. The award is also funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.