Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Celiac Program at Harvard Medical School

Collaborative Celiac Disease Program Launched by Harvard Medical School

Mass General, BIDMC and Boston Children’s joint initiative to be announced at musical evening at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum December 11

People with celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders soon will have something to celebrate with the recent launch of the Celiac Program at Harvard Medical School. Advancing basic and clinical research is the main goal of the partnership of experts in celiac care from Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Boston Children’s Hospital, along with collaboration in clinical and training initiatives.

“Our independent celiac centers and programs share a vision of outstanding patient care,” says Dr. Ciarán Kelly, director of the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). “We also each have strengths in different areas. Boston Children’s Hospital is superb at education; Dr. Alessio Fasano’s Center for Celiac Research at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) is a world leader in basic research on celiac disease; and my group at BIDMC has a deep clinical research portfolio. By combining our groups, the sum will be much greater than the parts.”

The launch of the new initiative will be announced at a musical event hosted by The Healthy Villi, a Boston-based support group for people with celiac disease and gluten-related disorders, on December 11 in Caldwell Hall at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Acclaimed classical pianist Cahill Smith, who has celiac disease, will perform along with Geoffrey Herd in a selection of pieces by Brahms and Stravinsky.

“Our goals are the same,” says Dr. Fasano, director of the Center for Celiac Research at MGHfC. “Improving the lives of people with celiac disease and gluten-related disorders—whether with clinical trials of a drug to help people with celiac disease avoid cross-contamination, or basic molecular research to find a diagnostic biomarker for gluten sensitivity, or education of parents and children about the gluten-free diet—we are all on the same page about making things easier for our patients.”

One of the early initiatives of the Celiac Program at Harvard Medical School is a joint application to the National Institutes of Health for a study on the value of screening for celiac disease in first-degree relatives of patients with the condition. Another initiative is collaboration in training and teaching opportunities. Dr. Anna Sapone, a clinical postdoctoral fellow from the Second University of Naples in Naples, Italy, has been training with Dr. Kelly and Dr. Daniel Leffler at the Celiac Center at BIDMC.

“With the combined expertise of the celiac groups, our educational initiative and outreach will be even stronger,” says Dr. Alan Leichtner, director of the Celiac Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Patient and parent education, implemented through a variety of outreach, is a vital part of our mission.”

Clinical practices, with adults seen by Dr. Kelly at BIDMC, adults and pediatric patients seen by Dr. Fasano at MGhfC, and pediatric patients treated by Dr. Leichtner at Boston Children’s Hospital, will remain the same.

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