The 4th Annual NYC IBD Research Day is September 12, 2018 with an outstanding group of speakers. Registering for the event is free but space is limited. To attend, please visit the event link here. The latest study from the Jill Roberts Institute, "Sensing Microbial Viability through Bacterial RNA Augments T Follicular Helper Cell and Antibody Responses," was published on March 13 in Immunity. To read more, click here.  The latest reviews from the Jill Roberts Institute, "Neuronal–immune system cross-talk in homeostasis" was published on March 30 in Science and "Beyond Host Defense: Emerging Functions of the Immune System in Regulating Complex Tissue Physiology" was published on April 19 in Cell. Dr. Gregory Sonnenberg wins inaugural award from the Society for Mucosal Immunology. To read more, click here.  The Kenneth Rainin Foundation awarded Dr. Iliyan Iliev and colleagues from Mount Sinai a $250,000 Synergy Award to examine the composition of the fungal community in babies born to mothers with inflammatory bowel disease. To read more, click here. Dr. Randy Longman received the Irma T. Hirschl Career Scientist Award and the New York Crohn’s Foundation Award.    

The Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Research and Press Releases

Identifying pathways that control the location and function of immune cells in the intestine

Group 3 innate cells (red staining with green staining in the center) are found in between B cell follicles (grey staining) where immune responses take place in gut-associated lymph nodes. Picture courtesy of Dr. David Withers.

The intestinal mucosal barrier surface is constantly exposed to various stimuli such as food antigens, beneficial microbes, and infectious pathogens. Immune cells in the intestine and associated lymphoid tissues play a critical role in maintaining barrier function and intestinal homeostasis.

A new study by Dr. David Artis and his colleagues at Weill Cornell Medicine, identifies that the accumulation and function of group 3 innate lymphoid cells, a key immune cell population that limits bacterial infections in the intestine, are regulated by G protein-coupled receptor 183 (GPR183) and its ligand oxysterol produced by stromal cells. The study is co-authored by multiple investigators including Dr. Gregory F. Sonnenberg (Weill Cornell Medicine) and Dr. David Withers (University of Birmingham) and was published on June 26, 2018 in Cell Reports.

“Group 3 innate lymphoid cells are enriched in mucosal barrier surfaces and lymphoid tissues, and are a key immune cell in maintaining intestinal health against bacterial infections,” said Dr. Artis, director of the Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease and the Michael Kors Professor of Immunology at Weill Cornell Medicine. “However, the molecular mechanisms that control how group 3 innate lymphoid cells are distributed in the intestine and lymphoid tissues and how their functions are controlled during bacterial infection are not fully understood.”

For their study, Dr. Artis and his colleagues focused on a G protein-coupled receptor 183 (GPR183, also known as EBI2). GPR183 is highly expressed on lymphocytes in spleen and lymph nodes and controls cell migration to achieve efficient antibody responses and CD4+ T cell responses. Dr. Artis and his team found that group 3 innate lymphoid cells, not only in gut-draining lymph nodes but also in the intestine, highly expressed GPR183 that controls the distribution of group 3 innate lymphoid cells in these tissues. Furthermore, GPR183 ligand, 7α,25-dihydroxycholesterol was produced by gut stromal cells, supporting a role for these structural cells in controlling the location and functional potential of group 3 innate lymphoid cells.

To examine the role of GPR183 and its ligand, Dr. Artis and his team employed mice that lack the receptor and the ligand-producing enzyme CH25H and found disorganized accumulation of ILC3s in the gut-draining lymph nodes and reduced ILC3 accumulation in the intestine in the absence of GPR183 or its ligand. “Considering the regulation of lymphocytes by ILC3s in the lymphoid organs and the importance of immune cell localization in these organs, it is important to know how ILC3 localization is controlled in the lymph nodes. And our findings may provide new targets to control immune responses in the lymphoid organs,” said Dr. Coco Chu, a postdoctoral associate in Dr. Artis’ laboratory and a co-first author of the study.

“We then wanted to know if this GPR183 is essential for a protection against gastrointestinal pathogens,” said Dr. Saya Moriyama, a postdoctoral associate in Dr. Artis’ laboratory and another co-first author of the study. To examine this, Dr. Artis and his colleagues used Citrobacter rodentium infection, which is a gastrointestinal pathogen of mice that has several pathogenic similarities with clinically important human gastrointestinal pathogens. “And we found that GPR183 promotes accumulation of cytokine-producing group 3 innate lymphoid cells in the gut and is required for protection against this infection.,” she added.

GPR183 plays important roles in regulating the distribution and function of ILC3s in both lymphoid and non-lymphoid tissue so GPR183 and its oxysterol ligand-producing pathway could be potential therapeutic targets for controlling and regulating ILC3 functions in multiple infectious and inflammatory diseases.

This study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (DP5OD012116, AI123368, DK110262, AI095608, AI074878, AI083480, AI095466, AI095608, AI102942, AI097333 and AI106697), the German Research Foundation (KL 2963/1-1), the Novo Nordic Foundation (14052), the Jill Roberts Institute, the Wellcome Trust (Senior Research Fellowship 110199/Z/15/Z), Cure for IBD, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, the Searle Scholars Program, an American Asthma Foundation Scholar Award, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. Dr. Moriyama is also the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science Overseas Research Fellow.

Weill Cornell Medicine Opens New Microbiome Core

The Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease is now home to Weill Cornell Medicine’s new Microbiome Core, which officially opens June 1. The core’s mission is to provide researchers with the technological platforms required to perform microbiome sequencing and analysis.

A microbiome is the aggregate of microorganisms living in an environment and the human microbiome consists of microorganisms that live in the human body.

“There’s a major biomedical revolution right now in understanding how the microbiome contributes to disease, and we are excited to be a part of that,” said Dr. Randy Longman, an assistant professor of medicine and a gastroenterologist at the Jill Roberts Center for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. “Now scientists are researching how the microbiome plays a role in normal development, the function of the immune system, metabolism, and the susceptibility to diseases including allergies, arthritis, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and more.” To continue reading...

Modified Inactivated Vaccine May Produce Immune Response as Effective as Live Vaccine

Vaccines containing inactivated versions of disease-causing germs are traditionally not as effective as live vaccines made with weakened pathogens. But new research from Weill Cornell Medicine scientists reveals how a molecule found in live vaccines produces a robust immune response, and adding it to an inactivated vaccine can create the same strong results.

These insights may provide a blueprint for engineering more potent inactivated or “dead” vaccines that can deliver strong immunity while overcoming concerns about the health risks of live vaccines.

“There has been a reluctance in the general population to get vaccinated, but vaccines are the single most effective medical intervention proven to prevent disease,” said senior author Dr. Julie Magarian Blander, a senior faculty member in the Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Weill Cornell Medicine, who was recruited as a professor of immunology in medicine. “We have known that live vaccines provide better protection, often for life, in one dose, compared to dead vaccines that frequently require multiple doses or boosters over time.” To continue reading...

Nervous System Puts the Brakes on Inflammation

Mucus production (red) in the lung under inflammatory conditions. Picture courtesy of Dr Saya Moriyama.

Cells in the nervous system can “put the brakes” on the immune response to infections in the gut and lungs to prevent excessive inflammation, according to research by Weill Cornell Medicine scientists. This insight may one day lead to new ways to treat diseases caused by unchecked inflammation, such as asthma and inflammatory bowel disease.   

The study, published March 1 in Science, provides some clues about what might be going wrong in these diseases, which have become more common in industrialized countries, and in helminth infections, which are still a major public health problem in less-industrialized countries. It also may explain how some existing treatments for diseases like asthma work and point to new treatment strategies.

“There is a crosstalk between the nervous system and the immune system, and that plays an important role in regulating acute and chronic inflammation,” said Dr. David Artis, director of the Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease and the Michael Kors Professor of Immunology at Weill Cornell Medicine. “Those two organ systems are closely interacting and play an important role in human health and disease.” To continue reading...

Scientists Identify Immune Cells That Keep Gut Fungi Under Control

Photo above shows opportunistic fungus called candida albicans (red) engulfed by CX3CR1+ phagocytes (green) in the gut villi (blue). Photo credit: Dr. Iliyan Iliev and Dr. Irina Leonardi.

Immune cells that process food and bacterial antigens in the intestines control the intestinal population of fungi, according to a new study from Weill Cornell Medicine scientists. Defects in the fungus-fighting abilities of these cells may contribute to some cases of Crohn’s disease and other forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The findings, published Jan. 11 in Science, illuminate a strong connection between fungi, immunity and intestinal inflammation and suggest a new, targeted treatment strategy for IBD.

“After discovering that fungi might be involved in the pathology of IBD, one of the big questions in the field has been how to identify patients who would benefit from antifungal co-therapy, and our finding suggests a way to do that,” said senior author Dr. Iliyan Iliev, an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and a scientist at the Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. To continue reading...

The Jill Roberts Institute plays starring role in the treatment of a young actress living with Crohn's Disease

When Analise Scarpaci was 10-years-old, she dreamed of singing and dancing on famed Broadway stages. So when she was diagnosed with a form of inflammatory bowel disease called Crohn’s disease, she wasn’t going to let that obstacle stand in her way. Thanks to her doctors at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, Scarpaci, now 18 and a Broadway star, is able to manage her disease and contribute to researchers’ understanding of the genetic and immunological underpinnings of IBD—all the while pursuing what she loves.

CURE For IBD presents donation to Jill Roberts Institute for research funding

Pictured in above image (L to R): Ms. Patti Kaufman, Dr. Robbyn Sockolow, Dr. David Artis, Dr. David Cohen, Mr. Chris Pedicone, and Ms. Lina Krivyan

On November 15, 2017, the Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and its Director, Dr. David Artis, welcomed Chris Pedicone, Founder and President of CURE for IBD for a visit and tour of the IBD research facilities at Weill Cornell Medicine. Joining the visit were Patti Kaufman, a Trustee and Fundraiser and Lina Krivyan, also a Fundraiser at CURE for IBD. CURE for IBD is a volunteer non-profit organization devoted solely to fund IBD research in order to find new treatments and cures for family, friends, and others living with IBD. This notable moment would not have been possible without Jill Roberts, a long-term supporter of IBD research and patient care at Weill Cornell Medicine. CURE for IBD presented the Jill Roberts Institute with a check for $35,000 to support IBD research efforts. Dr Artis and members of the Jill Roberts Institute extended their sincere thanks to CURE for IBD and are delighted to partner with CURE for IBD to support ongoing and future IBD research efforts at Weill Cornell Medicine. 

NYC IBD Research Day 2017

On November 2, 2017, the 3rd Annual New York City IBD Research Day was hosted by The Rockefeller University on their campus. The symposium is a yearly event coming to fruition through the collaboration of three institutions: The Jill Roberts Institute at Weill Cornell Medicine, The Immunology Institute of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and The Center for Basic and Translational Research on Disorders of the Digestive System at The Rockefeller University. Dr. Bana Jabri graciously accepted the Lloyd D. Mayer, MD Award presented by her friend and colleague, Dr. Sergio Lira. The attendees listened to ten presenters, who had traveled from around the globe for this event, engaging in lively Q & A conversations afterwards. Generous sponsorship from The Helmsley Charitable Trust, the NY Crohn’s Foundation, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, Pfizer, and Boehringer Ingelheim made the enriching day possible.

A Cellular Tango: Immune and Nerve Cells Work Together to Fight Gut Infections

Nerve cells in the gut play a crucial role in the body’s ability to marshal an immune response to infection, according to a new study from Weill Cornell Medicine scientists.

The study, published Sept. 6 in Nature, shows that the immune system and nervous system have co-evolved to respond to infectious threats. This means that scientists looking for ways to treat diseases like inflammatory bowel disease or asthma that involve an excessive immune system response may also have to address the nervous system’s role. 

“The immune system and neuronal system don’t act independently,” said senior author Dr. David Artis, director of the Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease and the Michael Kors Professor of Immunology at Weill Cornell Medicine. “They are working together.”

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Dr. Gregory Sonnenberg Wins Inaugural Award from the Society for Mucosal Immunology

Dr. Gregory Sonnenberg, an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medicine, has received the newly established Young Investigator Award from the Society for Mucosal Immunology.

The award honors investigators within 15 years of their postdoctoral training who have made significant contributions to the field of mucosal immunology, which is the study of immune responses that occur in the intestines, lungs and urogenital tract.

Dr. Sonnenberg accepted his award at the 18th International Congress of Mucosal of Immunology on July 19 in Washington, D.C. The award carries a cash prize and additional funds to support Dr. Sonnenberg’s laboratory.

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Research Uncovers Bacteria Linking Crohn’s Disease to Arthritis

Patients with Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes abdominal pain and diarrhea, can also experience joint pain. In Crohn’s disease, which affects about 800,000 Americans, the immune system can attack not only the bowels, but the musculoskeletal system as well, leading to spondyloarthritis, a painful condition that affects the spine and joints. Now new research, published Feb. 8 in Science Translational Medicine, helps explain the connection between these seemingly unrelated symptoms, and could help physicians identify Crohn’s disease patients who are more likely to develop spondyloarthritis, enabling them to prescribe more effective therapies for both conditions.

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Cell Death in Gut Implicated in IBD

The natural lifecycle of cells that line the intestine is critical to preserving stable conditions in the gut, according to new research led by a Weill Cornell Medicine investigator. The findings may lead to the development of new therapies to alleviate inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other chronic inflammatory illnesses.

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Kenneth Rainin Foundation Awards $750,000 for Collaborative Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research Projects

OAKLAND, Calif., Feb. 14, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced today that it has awarded $750,000 for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) research through its Synergy Award program. The Rainin Foundation funds scientific projects that have the potential to yield transformative discoveries and major insights into predicting and preventing IBD.

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Investigator Wins Award to Continue Study of Fungi in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Dr. Iliyan Iliev, an assistant professor of immunology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, has been awarded a one-year, $100,000 grant from the Kenneth Rainin Foundation to study the behavior of fungi in the immune system when patients with inflammatory bowel disease are administered a form of immunotherapy.  

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NYC IBD Research Day 2016

New York City IBD Research Day, on Nov 7, 2016, was a success.  Over 200 attendees enjoyed presentations on a variety of research presented by a multitude of lecturers from around the globe. The symposium was a one day event hosted by the Jill Roberts Institute at the Weill Cornell Medicine Belfer Research Building, in collaboration with the Immunology Institute of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and the Center for Basic and Translational Research on Disorders of the Digestive System at The Rockefeller University. Dr. Richard Blumberg of Harvard Medical School was presented with the Lloyd F. Mayer, MD award.

The Fungus Among Us

NEW YORK (July 25, 2016) - By now, most of us have made peace with the fact that we are host to a complicated extended family of bacteria whose trillion-plus members give us vitamins, help us digest food, protect us from pathogens, and only rarely turn virulent on us. But what about the fungus among us?

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Disruption of Intestinal Fungi Leads to Increased Severity of Inflammatory Disease

Fungi that live in a healthy gut may be as important for good health as beneficial intestinal bacteria, according to new research conducted at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Scientists have known for quite some time that the so-called "good" gut bacteria in the intestines, known as commensal bacteria, are a key component of a healthy body. These bacteria are critical for proper digestive and immune system function. Recent discoveries, however, have indicated that other microbes, such as fungi and viruses, may also play a part in how the body handles inflammation.

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An Off-Switch for Allergy: Starving the Immune System Prevents Allergic Inflammation in the Lung

NEW YORK (April 4, 2016) — Starving immune cells of key nutrients stymies their ability to launch an allergic response, according to new research from a multi-institutional collaboration led by Weill Cornell Medicine investigators. The findings illuminate how nutrients help drive tissue inflammation caused by the immune system — an insight that could lead to new treatments for a wide range of inflammatory conditions from hay fever and food allergies to asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

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Bacteria in Immune Cells May Protect Against Chronic Inflammation

NEW YORK (March 15, 2016) — A population of bacteria inhabits human and mouse immune cells and appears to protect the body from inflammation and illness, Weill Cornell Medicine scientists discovered in a new study. The findings challenge conventional wisdom about the relationship between bacteria and the human body — and about how the microbes influence health and disease. The study, published March 15 in Immunity, focused on "good" or "commensal" bacteria that live in the human intestine and are essential for digestion and proper immune function.

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Innovative Therapeutic Approach Shows Promise in Treating Inflammatory Bowel Disease

NEW YORK (February 16, 2016) — An investigative therapy given to mice blocks the overactive immune responses that are a hallmark of inflammatory bowel disease without impairing the body's ability to fight infection, an international research team led by Weill Cornell Medicine investigators finds in a new study. The preclinical discovery may lead to more effective treatment strategies for IBD.

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Restoring "Gut Health" in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease May Be a Matter of Pushing Cells to Repair Our Tissues

NEW YORK (August 04, 2015) — New insight into how the intestines repair themselves after daily attacks from microbes and other environmental triggers could lead to innovative approaches to treating inflammatory bowel disease, according to new research by Weill Cornell Medical College investigators. The findings, published Aug. 4 in PNAS, reveal a mechanism that allows the single layer of cells that line the inside of the intestines, called the gut epithelium, to signal the immune system to repair tissue damage caused by the daily onslaught of microbes and other environmental factors that the body encounters. Because a defect in that repair system underlies Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, the two primary forms of IBD, restoring tissue-protective repair mechanisms could reduce the diseases' hallmarks, chronic inflammation and tissue damage.

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Weill Cornell Investigators Discover a New Pathway that Prevents Chronic Inflammation in the Gut

New York (April 23, 2015) — An international research team led by Weill Cornell Medical College investigators has discovered an answer to why the human immune system ignores roughly 100 trillion beneficial bacteria that populate the gastrointestinal tract. The findings, published April 23 in the journal Science, advance investigators' understanding of how humans maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract, and may provoke new ways to treat inflammatory bowel disease — including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis — whose origins have been mysterious and treatment difficult.

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Immune Cells in "White" Body Fat Limit Obesity, Researchers Say

In the Dec. 22 issue of Nature, a research team, led by investigators at Weill Cornell Medical College, has found that an immune cell type appears to help burn fat and prevent the development of obesity. The findings suggest new ways of possibly preventing or treating obesity and obesity-related diseases in humans, says the study's senior investigator, Dr. David Artis, an immunologist who leads the Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Weill Cornell.

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JRI Investigators Featured in Weill Cornell Medicine: Inside Medicine

Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Leads the Field

NEW YORK (April 18, 2016) — A string of high-profile research studies underscores the early successes of the Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease, where scientists are assiduously investigating the root causes of the disease. Now, with the official opening of its permanent laboratories, the Weill Cornell Medicine institute is poised to lead the way in advancing research to improve patient care. Established nearly two years ago with a generous gift to Weill Cornell Medicine from longtime benefactor Jill Roberts, the institute uses a multidisciplinary approach to drive and then translate discoveries into new preventative and treatment strategies for IBD, a group of chronic inflammatory conditions of the intestine that affects an estimated 3.5 million people worldwide.

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New Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Established at Weill Cornell Medical College

NEW YORK — Weill Cornell Medical College announced today that through the generosity of longstanding benefactor Jill Roberts and the Jill Roberts Charitable Foundation it is establishing the Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Dr. David Artis, one of the world's leading immunologists, was recruited from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine to direct the institute, which is dedicated to understanding the molecular underpinnings of inflammatory bowel disease with the goal of translating basic research breakthroughs into the most advanced therapies for patients.

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Weill Cornell Medicine The Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease 413 E 69th Street, 7th Floor New York, NY 10021 Phone: (646) 962-6312