Center for the Study of IBD

The CSIBD is a multi-dimensional program with a broad approach to promote the study of IBD. The ultimate goals are to further our basic understanding of the intestinal mucosa, immune and inflammatory mechanisms and to develop new insights into the pathogenesis and treatment of IBD.

The CSIBD was first funded in January 1991. Over the past 23 years it has led to a substantial expansion of IBD-oriented research at the MGH and its other affiliated institutions.  The goals of the Center which have been sustained since its inception include:

  • Support for a broader spectrum of basic and applied research in fields recognized to be essential for fundamental progress in understanding these diseases
  • Development of young investigators committed to IBD-related research

It was anticipated that the former could be achieved through the provision of Biomedical Core research support and enhancing collaborations through a comprehensive enrichment program of seminars, workshops, symposia and joint laboratory meetings. The latter goal was especially targeted by Pilot/Feasibility (P/F) study support and, for a few individuals, a Named New Investigator award.

Since then, there has been significant evolution of the CSIBD investigator base, from 44 at the inception of the Center to 111 at present. The Center has also enhanced the experience of many postdoctoral trainees in participating laboratories who are now productive investigators within the CSIBD or at other research Centers. Importantly, it continues to serve as a magnet for new investigators (ranging from junior to more well-established) with relevant research interests. The 111 participants who currently comprise the CSIBD research base represent a vigorous, highly productive and well-funded cohort of investigators engaged in digestive diseases-related research.

At the inception of the CSIBD, the Biomedical Core program encompassed five Cores: Molecular Biology, Morphology, Immunology, Primate Model, and Clinical/Tissue Cores. These were highly effective in achieving their original goals. However, they were designed to be dynamic in their evolution to accommodate the needs of CSIBD investigators and advances in relevant fields of investigation.  The Molecular Biology Core has facilitated access to the Broad Institute platforms and has been renamed the Genetics, Genomics and Molecular Biology (GGMB) Core. The GGMB Core principally provides access to high demand, mission-enabling tools for the investigator cohort participating in the CSIBD. The Clinical/Tissue Core has also been expanded in scope since the initial period of Center support. The Genetic Animal Model Core provided cost-effective access for CSIBD investigators to several of these models in conjunction with adjunctive support services. With this expansion of the Genetic Animal Model Core, Dr. Cox Terhorst assumed responsibility as Core Director with Drs. Atul Bhan and Hans-Christian Reinecker as consultants. The scope and utilization of the murine component has rapidly expanded. Led by Dr. Terhorst, the Core has offered an increasing number of mutant lines and provides support services for the study of these lines. Recently, the Genetic Animal Model Core has undergone another significant step in its determination to meet evolving research needs of CSIBD investigators concurrent with advances in science relevant to the study of IBD.  On the basis of needs identified by CSIBD members, the Immunology Core is in the process of expanding to include intra-vital imaging of immune cells in vivo, developing a core set of protocols to maximize translation of functional genomics of IBD, developing more refined markers for immunophenotyping, and implementing robust immunological methods to characterize the immune response to IBD and microbial antigens using flow cytometry as a readout.

The workshops conducted annually in conjunction with the yearly CSIBD symposium and the visit of External Scientific Advisory committee have served as highly interactive forums focused on active areas of investigations in topics relevant to the mission of the CSIBD.   Themes of these workshops (begun in the second year of the Center) have been the following:

  • Intraepithelial Lymphocytes and their Function (1992)
  • Bioactive Luminal Peptides (1993)
  • Genetic Models of IBD (1994)
  • Identifying the Genetic Basis of IBD (1996)
  • Intestinal Epithelium: Immune and Inflammatory Responses (1997)
  • Lymphocytes and IBD: Current Paradigms of Disease Mechanisms and Treatment (1998)
  • Paradigms of Microbial - Mucosal Interaction: Physiology and Pathophysiology (1999)
  • Antigen Presentation at Mucosal Surfaces (2000)
  • NF-κB in host defense: genetics, biochemistry and function (2001)
  • Microbial-Mucosal Interactions” (2002)
  • Immune Regulatory Networks (2003)
  • Inventing and Re-Inventing the GI Tract Stem Cells, Development and Differentiation" (2004)
  • Immunological memory (2005)
  • The Phagosome and the Immune/Inflammatory Response (2006)
  • Host-Microbial Interactions at Mucosal surfaces in Health and Disease (2007)
  • Autophagy in Immunity (2008)
  • Integrating Innate and Adaptive Immunity in Complex Human Diseases (2009)
  • Gene-Environment Interactions in Health and Disease (2010)
  • Genomes, Tools and Technologies in Human Disease (2011)
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease Interactome (2012)
  • Signaling, Circuits and Communication in Health and Disease (2013)
  • Microbes, Metabolism and Mucosal Circuits (2014)