The CSIBD is a multidisciplinary program to define fundamental mechanisms underlying Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and is sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

The Center for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease encompasses investigators at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the Broad Institute, and allied institutions pursuing digestive disease research that yields insight into IBD pathogenesis. Since its formation in 1991, the CSIBD has served as a nexus of basic science, clinical translation, and patient impact by enabling multidisciplinary collaborations and catalyzing therapeutic advancements.

The success of the Center at the forefront of IBD research is owed to its biomedical cores, which offer technical and intellectual support for a broad spectrum of basic and applied research projects, and its investigators. The CSIBD’s research community is a particular strength, as IBD arises from complex interactions between genetic, microbial, environmental, and immune factors.

The CSIBD has facilitated groundbreaking studies that lead to improved treatment options for IBD patients. This tradition includes the discovery of the TNF inhibitor etanercept and the original description of the monoclonal antibody vedolizumab by CSIBD members. More recently, Center investigators were the first to metatranscriptomically profile the gut microbiome, capturing dynamic functional activities that can inform novel diagnostics and therapeutics. A team of CSIBD clinicians, geneticists, immunologists, and computational biologists generated an atlas of the human gut during ulcerative colitis at single-cell resolution that established a roadmap for elucidating mechanisms of inflammation and response to therapy. Large, collaborative projects such as the Integrative Human Microbiome Project catalog host-microbe relationships in IBD and lay foundations for clinical translation of the microbiome.

In addition to sharing a common research goal, CSIBD members are united through the Enrichment Program, a series of meetings and seminars that encourage interactions and attract new investigators to the study of IBD. The Annual CSIBD Workshop has developed into a multi-day event to host internationally renowned speakers, over half of whom travel from outside Boston to present their research to the CSIBD community.

Affiliated Institutions

Massachusetts General Hospital
The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Tufts University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Harvard Medical School
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Research Thrusts

Organizing the CSIBD investigators by areas of focus, we can divide the Center into six central themes. Our goal of understanding human IBD is accomplished using six entry points: (1) genetics, (2) microbial interactions, (3) barrier function and epithelial cell biology, (4) innate and adaptive immunity, (5) therapeutics, and (6) systems biology and signal transduction. Clinicians, scientists, and engineers are embedded in each theme.


The overall goal of the CSIBD is to promote and facilitate research that will yield insight into the causes and pathogenesis of IBD and lead to improved therapeutic approaches. This overarching objective remains unchanged since the inception of the CSIBD in 1991 and has guided the Center through substantial growth and expansion. The Center’s approach to accomplishing this goal also remains consistent: providing research support through biomedical cores and developing an outstanding research base.

The main engine of the Center continues to be the biomedical cores, which foster productivity by providing technical and intellectual support for a broad spectrum of basic and applied research in fields that are essential for fundamental progress in understanding these diseases. Equally important is the recruitment and development of investigators pursuing IBD-related research, in which complex, multifactorial interactions are a constant theme.

The Center goals are to:

  • Promote research in basic science areas relevant to better understanding of mucosal immune function and epithelial biology in IBD
  • Advance our understanding of gut pathophysiology by examining the gut as a circuit: studying the core components of gut intra- and inter-cellular interactions that determine health and disease
  • Promote the study of the pathogenesis of IBD
  • Promote interactions among scientists exploring diverse fields that share relevance to IBD
  • Promote translational IBD research
  • Attract basic investigators to the study of IBD and mucosal immunology
  • Provide an environment and mechanism to foster development of young investigators focused on IBD