CEGIR Mission Statement

Consortium Training Program Supports EGID Researchers of the Future

CEGIR is part of the Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network (RDCRN). A unique part of the RDCRN is a training program that supports investigators that are new to rare disease research. The trainees who participate have access to in-person and web-based opportunities to help them be successful in rare disease research. The trainees are experienced medical professionals who are familiar with eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases and are working to more deeply focus their research efforts in this area. Here, we are pleased to introduce the five trainees that that have been selected to participate in the training program with CEGIR.

Dominique D. Bailey

Dominique D. Bailey, MD, MSEd

Title: Instructor in Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Columbia University Irving Medical Center
Affiliation: Columbia University
Year entered into CEGIR training program: 2018
Mentor/s: Dr. Marc Rothenberg, MD, PhD
Biosketch

Dr. Bailey is a physician-scientist in basic-translational science whose long-term clinical and research goal is to improve the lives of children with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). As a practicing pediatric gastroenterologist with research training in developmental biology and cellular & molecular biology, her research goal is to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms of EoE. Dr. Bailey’s research focuses on advancing our current understanding of pathophysiology of pediatric EoE to further elucidate treatment targets and novel biomarkers specific to pediatric EoE.

Summary of current CEGIR projects

Dr. Bailey’s project with CEGIR involves identifying the function of a subset of genes associated with IL-13, which have been found to be upregulated in patients with EoE. Clinical trials have demonstrated that blocking the IL-4/IL-13 pathway has been helpful in the treatment of EoE. Her project is to further understand how these genes are involved in the pathogenesis of EoE and to determine whether these genes could serve as novel treatment targets for EoE.

Publications as affiliated with CEGIR
  • Nakagawa H, Kasagi Y, Karakasheva TA, Hara T, Aaron B, Shimonosono M, Kijima T, Giroux V, Bailey D, Wilkins B, Abrams JA, Falk GW, Aceves SS, Spergel JM, Hamilton KE, Whelan KA, Muir AB. Modeling Epithelial Homeostasis and Reactive Epithelial Changes in Human and Murine Three-Dimensional Esophageal Organoids. Curr Protoc Stem Cell Biol. 2020 Mar;52(1):e106.PubMed PMID: 32105412
  • Bailey DD, Zhang Y, van Soldt BJ, Jiang M, Suresh S, Nakagawa H, Rustgi AK, Aceves SS, Cardoso WV, Que J. Use of hPSC-derived 3D organoids and mouse genetics to define the roles of YAP in the development of the esophagus. Development. 2019 Dec 4;146(23)PubMed PMID: 31748205; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6918786.
Q&A with Dr. Bailey

How has CEGIR participation made a difference in your career, or how do you anticipate it will?
“CEGIR has given me the opportunity to form a collaborative network with junior investigators in basic, translational and clinical research related to eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases as well as form mentoring relationships with leading experts in the field.”

How do you feel the patient community benefits from the CEGIR training program?
“The CEGIR training program allows physicians from several areas of expertise to work together with the objective of advancing our understanding of eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases resulting in improved care for our patients.”

Paroma Bose

Paroma Bose, MD

Title: Pediatric Gastroenterology Fellow
Affiliation: Riley Hospital for Children, Indiana University School of Medicine
Mentor/s: Dr. Sandeep Gupta
Biosketch

Dr. Bose is in her final year of her pediatric gastroenterology fellowship with Indiana University School of Medicine at Riley Hospital for Children. Her research during fellowship includes investigation into the frequency of endoscopy utilization in pediatric EoE and mechanisms for variability in PPI response in pediatric EoE, like CYP2C19 polymorphisms or mucosal cytokine expression. She is also interested in characterizing patterns of dysmotility in EGIDs.

Summary of current CEGIR projects

TBD

Publications as affiliated with CEGIR

TBD

Q&A with Dr. Bose

How has CEGIR participation made a difference in your career, or how do you anticipate it will?
“I am thrilled to be joining the CEGIR network as a trainee. I look forward to collaborating with leading EGID clinicians and researchers to build my understanding these diseases, contribute to growing research in this field, and hopefully improve quality of care for our patients.”

How do you feel the patient community benefits from the CEGIR training program?
“By reaching physicians early in their careers, the CEGIR training program fosters and solidifies interest in EGIDs. I think patients really benefit from a group of doctors committed to education and understanding of EGIDs, and the CEGIR training program ensures continued growth of this group.”

Joy Chang

Joy Chang, MD

Title: Clinical Lecturer of Internal Medicine
Affiliation: University of Michigan
Year entered into CEGIR training program: 2020
Mentor/s:
Biosketch

Dr. Chang is an adult gastroenterologist whose clinical and research interests include improving the care, quality of life, and patient-provider communications for patients with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). During her training as a GI and advanced esophageal fellow, she developed an interest in how patients’ various preferences and values play into decisions about initiating and maintaining EoE treatment. Dr. Chang’s research focuses on shared decision making, behavioral interventions in EoE care, and patient-centered collaborative research methods.

Summary of current CEGIR projects

TBD

Publications as affiliated with CEGIR

TBD

Q&A with Dr. Chang

How has CEGIR participation made a difference in your career, or how do you anticipate it will?
“CEGIR has opened up opportunities for mentorship and partnerships with the strong EGID scientific community, as well as provided updated evidence to support my care of patients with EGIDs. Just as important are the relationships I will continue to build with our patient advocacy groups, who are instrumental in amplifying the voices of the patients who inspire my research on patient-centered care and outcomes.”

How do you feel the patient community benefits from the CEGIR training program?
“Improving and supporting the lives of those with EGIDs requires partnerships between investigators, clinicians, patients and their loved ones. CEGIR uniquely improves the quality of care for these patients by bringing these diverse stakeholders together in research collaborations, seeking to train experts and junior investigators, and increasing patient access to clinicians and researchers within the field.”

Thomas Greuter

Thomas Greuter, MD

Title: Senior Associate Consultant in Gastroenterology
Affiliation: Swiss EoE Clinic, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland
Year entered into CEGIR training program: 2018
Mentor/s: David A. Katzka, MD; Ikuo Hirano, MD
Biosketch

Dr. Greuter is a gastroenterologist in Zurich, Switzerland, with a broad background in internal medicine, gastroenterology and immunology. He received his training at the University Hospital Zurich and Mayo Clinic, Rochester, where he completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in a GI basic science laboratory focusing on fibrosis mechanisms. Back in Switzerland, he specialized in esophageal diseases with a particular focus on eosinophilic esophagitis. Besides providing clinical care at the large Swiss EoE Clinic, he pursues the career of a physician-scientist.

His clinical-translational research focuses on: 1) investigating EoE long-term management including novel treatment options; 2) exploring pathogenic mechanisms in the development and progression of EoE; and 3) characterizing a novel EoE-related disease entity called EoE-like inflammatory disease.

Dr. Greuter’s research has been recognized and supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Novartis Foundation for Biomedical Research, the Swiss Society of Gastroenterology, the Swiss IBDnet Network, and the Consortium of Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease Researchers (CEGIR) training grant.

Summary of current CEGIR projects

Dr. Greuter’s research as a CEGIR trainee includes the following projects:

  1. Long-term management of EoE: In two multicenter clinical projects, he analyzes efficacy and safety of long-term steroid treatment and the impact of annual follow-up visits on disease outcome.
  2. Characterization of a novel disease entity called EoE-like inflammatory disease: In this multicenter translational study, Dr. Greuter and his colleagues characterize clinical, endoscopic, (immune)-histological and molecular features of 69 patients with typical presentation of EoE, but absence of esophageal eosinophilia.
  3. Development and progression of EoE: in a translational project, Dr. Greuter analyzes genes involved in the early development stages of EoE and in the progression to a fibrostenotic phenotype. These pathogenic insights will help to discover novel therapeutic targets.
Publications as affiliated with CEGIR
  • Greuter T, Bussman C, Safroneeva E, Schopfer AM, Biedermann L, Vavricka SR, Straumann A. Long-Term Treatment of Eosinophilic Esophagitits with Swallowed Topical Corticosteroids: Development and Evaluation of a Therapeutic Concept. American Journal of Gastroenterology 2017 Oct;112(12):1527-1535
  • Greuter T, Safroneeva E, Bussmann C, Biedermann L, Vavricka SR, Katzka DA, Schoepfer AM, Straumann A. Maintenance Treatment of Eosinophilic Esophagitis with Swallowed Topical Steroids Alters Disease Course Over a 5-year Follow-Up Period in Adult Patients. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol, 2019;17(3):419-428
  • Safroneeva E, Belsiger L, Hafner D, Kuehni CE, Zwahlen M, Trelle S, Godat S, Biedermann L, Greuter T, Vavricka SR, Straumann A, Schoepfer AM. Adults with eosinophilic oesphagitis identify symptoms and quality of life as the most important outcomes. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2018;48(10):1082-1090
  • Schreiner P, Meissgeier S, Safroneeva E, Greuter T, Rogler G, Schoepfer A, Simon D, Simon HU, Biedermann L, Straumann A. Disease Progression and Outcomes of Pregnancies in Women with Eosinophilic Esophagitis. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019 (epub ahead of print)
  • Safroneeva E, Hafner D, Kuehni CE, Zwahlen M, Trelle S, Biedermann L, Greuter T, Vavricka SR, Straumann A, Schoepfer AM. Systematic Assessment of Adult Patients‘ Satisfaction with Various Eosinophilic Esophagitis Therapies. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2020;181(3):211-220
  • Greuter T, Alexander JA, Straumann A, Katzka DA. Diagnostic and Therapeutic Long-term Management of Eosinophilic Esophagitis – Current Concepts and Perspectives for Steroid Use. Clin Transl Gastroenterol. 2018;9(12):212
  • Greuter T, Hirano I, Dellon ES. Emerging therapies for eosinophilic esophagitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2020 Jan;145(1):38-45
  • Greuter T, Straumann A. Medical algorithm: Diagnosis and treatment of eosinophilic esophagitis in adults. Allergy. 2020 Mar;75(3):727-730
  • Several abstracts submitted and orally presented at Digestive Disease Weeks 2018 and 2019.
Q&A with Dr. Greuter

How has CEGIR participation made a difference in your career, or how do you anticipate it will?
“The EoE community under the patronage of CEGIR is unique: It is based on the principles of collegiality, fairness and collaboration. CEGIR has provided me with the necessary resources to sub-specialize in eosinophilic esophagitis, to advance my EoE research and to interact with the world leading experts in the field. The close mentoring I receive enables me to successfully execute my research projects and lays the ground for future collaborations within the US and beyond.”

How do you feel the patient community benefits from the CEGIR training program?
“This is what we are all seeking for: making the life of our patients better. The CEGIR training program helps me to spend dedicated time in EoE Clinics, where I can provide specialized care to my patients, and to execute my research projects. These projects are inspired by our patients’ needs and are further refined by the CEGIR community, where clinicians, scientists and patient advocacy groups are brought together. Promoting the next generation of EoE specialists and researchers will undoubtedly pave the road to better treatment options and disease management.”

Pooja Mehta

Pooja Mehta, MD, MSCS

Title: Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine
Mentor/s: Glenn T. Furuta, MD
Biosketch

Dr. Mehta is a pediatric gastroenterologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Her clinical and research interests include finding innovative methods of improving treatment adherence in adolescents and young adults with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). Specifically, she is interested in the application of health psychology and in the use of digital health tools to reach patients outside of the traditional clinical setting. Her goals are to perform multidisciplinary and pragmatic research with patient input to improve outcomes in EoE.

Summary of current CEGIR projects

TBD

Publications as affiliated with CEGIR

TBD

Q&A with Dr. Mehta

How has CEGIR participation made a difference in your career, or how do you anticipate it will?
“CEGIR provides an opportunity to learn from and collaborate with leaders in the field. Because I believe that patient and community input is critical to the development and advancement of EoE-related research, I am also extremely excited to work with CEGIR’s Patient Advocacy Groups.”

How do you feel the patient community benefits from the CEGIR training program?
“CEGIR brings together an incredibly diverse group of people including basic scientists, clinical researchers, industry, and patient advocates. This multidisciplinary and collaborative atmosphere allows for us to learn from each other, build long-lasting partnerships, and work together with the goal of improving patient lives.”

Quan M. Nhu

Quan M. Nhu, MD, PhD

Title: KL2 Clinical Scholar, Gastroenterology
Affiliation: Scripps Clinic & Scripps Research Institute; University of California, San Diego
Year entered into CEGIR training program: 2018
Mentor/s: Seema Aceves, MD, PhD
Biosketch

As a physician-scientist, trained in immunology and immunopathology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and at Johns Hopkins University, respectively, and in gastroenterology at Scripps Clinic, Dr. Nhu has had the opportunity to care for patients with eosinophilic esophagitis and eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases from the viewpoints both as a clinician and as an immunologist. Dr. Nhu’s current research is driven by the clinical needs of his patients and centers on understanding the mechanisms of inflammation and remodeling in EoE and developing clinically relevant therapeutic agents for EoE.

Summary of current CEGIR projects

Working closely with Dr. Seema Aceves at University of California, San Diego, Dr. Nhu’s current laboratory focus centers on investigating the molecular mechanisms of cellular injury, tissue inflammation and remodeling in EoE. Specifically, Dr. Nhu is investigating: 1) the mechanisms of male-female dichotomy in EoE; 2) the mechanisms of severe stricturing phenotypes in EoE; and 3) novel therapeutics targeting tissue remodeling and inflammation in EoE.

Publications as affiliated with CEGIR
  • Nhu QM, Hsieh L, Dohil L, Dohil R, Newbury RO, Kurten R, Moawad FJ, Aceves SS. Anti-fibrotic effects of the thiazolidinediones in eosinophilic esophagitis pathologic remodeling: a preclinical evaluation. Clin Transl Gastroenterol 2020; 11(4):e00164
  • Nhu QM, Duong LD, Rawson RM, Newbury RO, Kurten RC, Dohil R, Aceves SS. Intrinsic sex-specific differences in fibrotic gene expression and pathology contribute to male disease predisposition in pediatric eosinophilic esophagitis. American College of Gastroenterology, San Antonio, TX, 2019 (ACG/Radhika Srinivasan Gender-Based Research Award)
  • Nhu QM, Aceves SS. Unanswered questions in eosinophilic esophagitis. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2020;124(3):227-228
  • Nhu QM, Moawad FJ. New developments in the diagnosis and treatment of eosinophilic esophagitis. Curr Treat Options Gastroenterol 2019;17(1):48-62
  • Nhu QM, Chiao H, Moawad FJ, Bao F, Konijeti GG. The anti-α4β7 integrin therapeutic antibody for inflammatory bowel disease, vedolizumab, ameliorates eosinophilic esophagitis: a novel clinical observation. Am J Gastro 2018;113(8):1261-1263
  • Nhu QM, Aceves SS. Medical and dietary management of eosinophilic esophagitis. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2018;121(2):156-161
  • Nhu QM, Aceves SS. Tissue remodeling in chronic eosinophilic esophageal inflammation: Parallels in asthma and therapeutic perspectives. Front Med (Lausanne) 2017;4:128. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2017.00128. eCollection 2017
Q&A with Dr. Nhu

How has CEGIR participation made a difference in your career, or how do you anticipate it will?
“The opportunity to interact with colleagues and established EoE/EGID leaders in the field within CEGIR and beyond has been tremendously helpful. CEGIR has a collaborative mentality, and there are always new opportunities to establish collaborations on common projects of interest.”

How do you feel the patient community benefits from the CEGIR training program?
“One important feature of CEGIR is the collaborative environment that includes not only clinicians and researchers, but also the direct interactions with patient advocacy and support groups. This collegial interaction has been key to the generation of patient-centered translational research questions and facilitating the dissemination of the latest clinically-relevant advances directly to patients.”

Melanie Ruffner

Melanie Ruffner, MD, PhD

Title: Assistant Professor
Affiliation: University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Year entered into CEGIR training program: 2020
Mentor/s: Jonathan Spergel
Biosketch

Dr. Ruffner is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, and cares for patients with eosinophilic esophagitis, eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases, and other allergic diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Ruffner is a physician-scientist, and trained at the University of Pittsburgh and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Ruffner’s research focuses on the role of the esophageal epithelial barrier in eosinophilic esophagitis, and her translational research studies focus on strategies to improve function of the mucosal barrier in eosinophilic esophagitis.

Summary of current CEGIR projects

Dr. Ruffner’s project with CEGIR involves examining how proton pump inhibitor medications affect the function of the esophageal epithelial barrier. This work will assess the specific effects of proton pump inhibitor treatments on how esophageal epithelial cells behave as a mucosal barrier, bind to each other, and express important membrane proteins.

Publications as affiliated with CEGIR

None

Q&A with Dr. Ruffner

How has CEGIR participation made a difference in your career, or how do you anticipate it will?
“The CEGIR Program provides an opportunity for training, collaboration and feedback between experts in the field and young faculty like myself. The opportunity to build relationships with mentors and collaborators while learning about EGIDs is invaluable.”

How do you feel the patient community benefits from the CEGIR training program?
“CEGIR is a collaborative environment that brings together clinicians, researchers, patients, and their families from diverse geographic areas and backgrounds. This provides a critical opportunity to accelerate the pace of research and clinical trials, which helps to provide patients and their physicians with more knowledge about EGIDs and better options for their care.”

Justin Schwartz

Justin T. Schwartz, MD, PhD

Title: Assistant Professor
Affiliation: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Year entered into CEGIR training program: 2020
Mentor/s: Marc E. Rothenberg, MD, PhD
Biosketch

Dr. Schwartz is a physician-scientist with clinical training in Allergy and Clinical Immunology. He currently holds an academic appointment within the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the Cincinnati Center of Eosinophilic Disorders, where he provides clinical care for patients with eosinophilic disease. Dr. Schwartz has research training in basic and translation science with expertise in innate immune function and eosinophil biology. His research is focused on understanding how immunologic progenitor cells participate in the pathophysiology of eosinophilic gastrointestinal disease, with a goal of advancing our understanding of disease mechanisms to identify potential novel therapeutic targets and biomarkers for disease monitoring.

Summary of current CEGIR projects

Dr. Schwartz is working with Dr. Rothenberg to define the potential role that eosinophil progenitor cells (EoPs) may play in the pathophysiology of eosinophilic esophagitis. EoPs are lineage–committed CD34+ progenitor cells that primarily reside in the bone marrow but can be mobilized into the peripheral blood during allergic immune responses and accumulate at sites of allergic inflammation. EoP levels in the peripheral blood of patients with active EoE are significantly increased, and levels can be used to differentiate active disease from inactive disease with high sensitivity, suggesting that EoP levels could serve as a potential disease biomarker. The functional significance of mobilized EoPs remains unclear, but these cells could propagate local tissue inflammation through in situ proliferation and maturation and secretion of inflammatory cytokines. Dr. Schwartz’s project with CEGIR is focused on further evaluating the potential role for EoP levels as a peripheral blood biomarker for disease activity and elucidating the extent to which these cells are recruited into the inflamed esophageal tissue and contribute to local inflammation.

Publications as affiliated with CEGIR

None

Q&A with Dr. Schwartz

How has CEGIR participation made a difference in your career, or how do you anticipate it will?
“Participation in the CEGIR training program will enable me to develop new mentoring relationships with leading experts in the field of eosinophilic gastrointestinal disease, as well as a unique opportunity to network with other junior and senior investigators to develop collaborative relationships to support future project development.”

How do you feel the patient community benefits from the CEGIR training program?
“The CEGIR training program provides support for junior faculty to receive specialty training in eosinophilic gastrointestinal disease, where they can develop the skills necessary to make future contributions that will improve our understanding and eventual management of these disorders. CEGIR also offers a unique training environment where young investigators can participate in the conversations between clinicians, scientists and patient advocacy groups and learn how these collaborations ultimately advance patient care.”

Benjamin Wright

Benjamin Wright, MD

Title: Assistant Professor
Affiliation: Mayo Clinic Arizona and Phoenix Children’s Hospital
Year entered into CEGIR training program: 2020
Mentor/s: Glenn Furuta
Biosketch

Dr. Wright is a board-certified Allergist/Immunologist with a joint academic appointment at Mayo Clinic Arizona and Phoenix Children’s Hospital. He completed fellowship training in Allergy and Clinical Immunology at Duke University and pursued advanced research training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His initial work examined mechanisms of oral immunotherapy, mouse models of food allergy, and the role of IgG4 in EoE. His long-term career goal is to improve the health of individuals with eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases (EGIDs) through basic and translational research.

Dr. Wright’s research has been recognized and supported by the National Institutes of Health, Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation, Mayo Clinic Foundation, Arizona Biomedical Research Consortium training award, and the Consortium of Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease Researchers (CEGIR) training award.

Summary of current CEGIR projects
  1. Patients with EoE often have food allergies; moreover, some patients with food allergy develop EoE while undergoing oral immunotherapy (OIT). Dr. Wright’s project with CEGIR is to examine the relationship between IgE-mediated food allergy and EoE. Dr. Wright is leading a mechanistic study of patients undergoing milk OIT where patients are serially monitored using the esophageal string test in order to better understand the pathogenesis of EoE.
  2. Currently, EoE diagnosis requires manual counting of eosinophils by a trained pathologist. This is time-consuming, variable, and may underestimate the extent of eosinophil involvement. Dr. Wright is also conducting studies in patients with EoE and EG/EGE to validate a tool that uses computer image analysis to quantify eosinophilic inflammation in tissue biopsies.
Publications as affiliated with CEGIR

None

Q&A with Dr. Wright

How has CEGIR participation made a difference in your career, or how do you anticipate it will?
“CEGIR has helped me develop mentoring relationships with the thought leaders in EGID research. It has served as a venue to ask questions and a resource to accelerate ideas towards implementation through collaboration.”

How do you feel the patient community benefits from the CEGIR training program?
“The CEGIR training program cultivates EGID expertise nationally and internationally. This increases access to clinical trials, enhances research collaboration, and ultimately improves patient care.”

 

 

Previous Consortium Training Program Trainees