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Beyond Celiac expands scope of expertise

January 23, 2019

Beyond Celiac expands scope of expertise

New scientific advisory council includes celiac disease, immunology and drug development experts

As one of the first steps in meeting the goal of finding new treatments and a cure for celiac disease, Beyond Celiac has created a new Scientific Advisory Council (SAC).

Council members have a broad span of expertise that includes celiac disease, immunology and drug development. They are internationally recognized physicians and scientists in both celiac disease and related non-celiac disease fields of study.

Immunology – the study of the human body’s built-in defense system, called the immune system, which normally helps fight infection by rejecting foreign viruses and bacteria. In celiac disease, the immune system does not work properly and responds to gluten as an invader, triggering an attack on the lining of the intestine, with consequent symptoms in many parts of the body.

“Beyond Celiac is poised to be a national leader in funding and stimulating scientific research that will lead to therapies and a cure for celiac disease,” said Marie Robert, M.D., Beyond Celiac chief scientific officer and SAC chair. “Employing a range of strategies, from bench to bedside, Beyond Celiac will attract, enable and increase the pool of outstanding basic and clinical scientists directing their efforts to control celiac disease.”

The SAC will develop the strategic research agenda and assist Robert in developing the Beyond Celiac research grant program, with input into grant fund allocation, creating requests for and judging grant applications and evaluating research progress.

In creating the agenda, Robert said, emphasis will be placed on leveraging current knowledge, bridging critical gaps in the development process and exploiting synergies in related fields of other genetic and immune mediated diseases. Additionally, the SAC will work to stimulate a new generation of talented young investigators who will lead celiac disease research in the future.

Robert will present SAC recommendations to the Beyond Celiac chief executive officer and board of directors for discussion and approval.

In addition to Robert, members of the council are:

Bob Beall, Ph.D., Beyond Celiac board member and former president and CEO of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Under Beall’s 21 years of leadership, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation applied innovative approaches to bring new therapies to patients. The life expectancy of those with cystic fibrosis rose dramatically and nearly 30 drugs were in development to treat all aspects of the disease, including its underlying cause.

Gail Hecht, M.D., professor of medicine and microbiology/immunology and chief of gastroenterology and nutrition at Loyola University, Chicago

Hecht focuses her research on host–pathogen interactions, supported through funding from the U.S, National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Veterans Affairs. She also has an interest in the gut microbiome and its impact on intestinal function and health, serving as editor-in-chief of the journalGut Microbes. Hecht is a former president of the American Gastroenterological Association.

Edwin Liu, M.D., director of the Colorado Center for Celiac Disease at Children’s Hospital Colorado and professor of pediatrics, gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition, University of Colorado School of medicine

Liu is a practicing pediatric gastroenterologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado and a lead researcher of celiac disease in children. He recently published a study that showed an increase in prevalence in celiac disease in children and helped further understanding of celiac disease screening. Liu also studies the link between celiac disease and other autoimmune diseases, such as Type 1 diabetes.

Daniel Leffler, M.D., director of research, Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess, associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, and medical director, Takeda Pharmaceuticals

Leffler is a practicing gastroenterologist and celiac disease expert. He has published numerous articles about celiac disease and participates in clinical and translational research. He has been the recipient of a career development grant from the NIH, as well as multiple foundation and industry sponsored grants. He lectures nationally and internationally and co-authored the bookReal Life with Celiac Disease. Troubleshooting and Thriving Gluten Free.

Stephen Miller, Ph.D., director of the interdepartmental immunobiology center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and research professor of microbiology-immunology

Miller is internationally recognized for his research on pathogenesis and regulation of autoimmune diseases. His work has enhanced understanding of the immune inflammatory processes underlying chronic autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and celiac disease and could lead to potential treatments for these and other autoimmune diseases.

Joseph Murray, M. D., professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic and a gastroenterologist in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology, department of internal medicine

Murray is a practicing gastroenterologist and leading authority in celiac disease, having published more than 100 research articles. He focuses on clinical epidemiology of celiac disease, the role of genetics in predicting disease, the development of animal models for the disease and dermatitis herpetiformis. Murray also studies the complications of celiac disease, including small bowel cancer. His research has been funded by the NIH.

Kari Nadeau, M.D., professor of pediatric food allergy, immunology and asthma and director of the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research, Stanford University

Nadeau is an expert in adult and pediatric allergy and asthma. Her research focuses on understanding the increased prevalence of allergies and asthma, improving diagnostics and the immunological mechanisms underlying these diseases. She was the first to successfully desensitize individuals to more than one allergy at a time using multi-allergen oral immunotherapy. She does clinical research to provide safe and effective therapeutic options for those with allergies and asthma.

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