Recipient Announced for the 2018 Hope APFED HOPE Pilot Grant Award

May 14, 2018

Funded study to define the consequences and mechanisms of mucosal mast cell activation in the esophagus

Contacts: Mary Jo Strobel, Executive Director, (713) 493-7749,

ATLANTA, GA —The American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED) is pleased to announce that it has awarded a 2018 HOPE Pilot Grant Award to Dr. Joshua B. Wechsler, Assistant Professor in Pediatrics, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and Attending Physician, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

Dr. Wechsler will receive $100,000 from APFED over a two-year period to carry out his award-winning research proposal. His project is entitled “Defining Mast Cell Phenotype, Activation Pathways and Cellular Interactions that Drive Chronic Symptoms and Endoscopic Changes in Eosinophilic Esophagitis.”

With this grant, Dr. Wechsler seeks to understand the role of esophageal mast cell activation in EoE symptoms, along with endoscopic abnormalities in EoE and the effect of treatment. His work will analyze novel pathways in individual mast cells from a biopsy, to determine factors that drive persistent endoscopic abnormalities. He will also define interactions of mast cells and their mediators with the structural epithelial cell, relevant to what is seen in the biopsy.

This project will help uncover fundamental aspects of mucosal mast cells signaling and cellular interactions critical to driving clinical phenotype in EoE, which could in turn contribute to novel therapies to improve treatment response.

“APFED’s HOPE Pilot grants are selected through a competitive peer-reviewed process,” APFED President Dr. Wendy Book explains. “Applicants are asked to submit a novel research idea that shows promise and conforms to the APFED mission to improve the lives of those living with eosinophil-associated diseases. These proposals are then reviewed and scored by an ad-hoc panels of expert reviewers, which guides us as we select the most impactful projects with innovative ideas to fund. Successful grantees demonstrate a plan and the potential to receive subsequent, larger funding for their project.”

“This work seeks to improve patient care by delving into critical pathways at play between individual mucosal mast cells and the epithelium,” said Dr. Wechsler. “We believe these interactions are key to ongoing endoscopic and histologic abnormalities in a subset of patients with EoE. This award will greatly facilitate the success of my research career and help me achieve extramural funding.”

 To learn more about APFED’s HOPE on the Horizon Research Program and projects that have been awarded since the program’s inception in 2005, please visit


American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED) is a non-profit organization dedicated to patients and their families coping with eosinophilic disorders. APFED’s 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.

Upcoming events include National Eosinophil Awareness Week, May 20-26, 2018, and Eos Connection 2018: APFED’s 16 Annual Patient Education Conference, July 6-7, 2018 in Denver. Learn more at