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Predicting and preventing necrotizing enterocolitis

Aug. 31, 2014

A collaborative team of researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin (CHW) Research Institute, and BloodCenter of Wisconsin has received a one-year, $50,000 grant from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin (CTSI) to study genomic factors that impact necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a severe form of bowel disease that develops in five to ten percent of premature infants and has a mortality of 25-40 percent.

Venkatesh Sampath, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at MCW and a neonatologist at CHW, is the principal investigator for the grant. His collaborators include Pippa M. Simpson, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and director of division of quantitative health sciences at MCW; David Dimmock, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics (genetics) at MCW and a clinical geneticist at CHW; John M. Routes, M.D., professor and chief of asthma, allergy and immunology at MCW and a physician at CHW; and Denim Wang, Ph.D., the John B. and Judith A. Gardetto Chair for Cancer Research at BloodCenter of Wisconsin.

The primary goal of this project is to understand factors that cause the development of NEC so it can be predicted and prevented. Dr. Sampath and his team will sequence the SIGIRR gene, which appears to be related to NEC in premature infants, to establish the relationship between the gene and the disease. As a long term goal, they hope to understand the relationship between the immune system and genetics that causes NEC in premature infants and to develop immune strategies to decrease NEC.

This is one of 13 pilot projects being funded in 2014 through CTSI. The goal of the grants is to create synergy through collaboration, and studies are specifically designed to lead to major future research support. The projects explore findings that have the potential to be translated into clinical practice and community health, and are led by investigators at the CTSI’s eight partnering institutions: the Medical College of Wisconsin, Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, UW-Milwaukee, Froedtert Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the Clement Zablocki VA Medical Center, and BloodCenter of Wisconsin.

CTSI is part of a national consortium of top medical research institutions. Working together, the CTSI institutions are committed to improve human health by streamlining science, transforming training environments and improving the conduct, quality and dissemination of clinical and translational research. The CTSI program is led by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Support for the Pilot Award Program comes from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin (AHW) endowment.

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