April 19, 2017

Funding supports researchers who have novel approaches to understanding eosinophilic esophagitis

(ATLANTA, GA)—The American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED) is pleased to announce the award of two HOPE Pilot Grants in support of promising research projects studying eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE).

The first of two awardees receiving APFED’s 2017 HOPE Pilot Grant is John Garber, MD, Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Garber will receive $100,000 over a two-year period for his project entitled, “Determinants of Integrin Signaling in Eosinophilic Esophagitis.”

Dr. Garber’s team will be studying the interaction of select integrins relative to recruitment and activation of eosinophils in the esophagus. Gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms of eosinophil recruitment may lead to the development of treatments that stop the migration of eosinophils into the esophagus.

The second 2017 HOPE Pilot Grant was awarded to Aaron Kobernick, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Allergy and Immunology, University of Utah. Dr. Kobernick will receive $100,000 over a two-year period for his project entitled, “Detection of Eosinophilic Inflammation in Patients with Eosinophilic Esophagitis by Oral Administration of Tc-99m Heparin.”

This research focuses on finding a noninvasive way to detect and monitor EoE.  Dr. Kobernick’s team has developed a technique in which heparin labeled with a radioactive tracer can be used with a specialized camera to identify the presence of eosinophils in the esophagus. The aim of his research will be to assess the lowest amount of radioactivity that can be used to evaluate inflammation caused by esophageal eosinophilia.

This research shows great promise as a potential noninvasive method for doctors to use to evaluate whether a particular treatment method (e.g., dietary therapy, corticosteroids) is effective for a patient.

“The grant cycle was very competitive for this year’s HOPE on the Horizon Research Program,” said APFED Executive Director Mary Jo Strobel. “We are grateful for the generous donors who recognize the importance of investing in research that enables better quality of care and life for those with eosinophil-associated diseases. Their contributions enabled two awards this year, and we are excited to support this research.”

“We are so pleased that the Charit-EoE Concert for a Cure was able to assist in raising the funds to support these invaluable research grants to help us better understand EoE,” said Arlene and Lance Steinberg, organizers of the November fundraising event in New York City that benefited APFED’s HOPE Program. “The generous support of family, friends and many business associates helped further the quest for better therapies and ultimately a cure.”

APFED’s HOPE on the Horizon Research Program  launched in 2005 and is supported entirely by donations.  Contributions to the fund have enabled the organization to direct more than $2 million in support of research initiatives.

The HOPE Pilot Research Grants are competitive and are selected through a peer-review process. Applications are accepted from investigators from a variety of disciplines to initiate new projects relevant to eosinophil-associated diseases. Successful applications focus on the development of new ideas that are likely to lead to future external funding.

About American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED)

The American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to passionately embrace, support, and improve the lives of patients and families affected by eosinophil-associated diseases through education and awareness, research, support, and advocacy. To learn more about APFED and eosinophil-associated diseases, visit apfed.org.