When I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease at 14 years old, I instantly knew that I wanted to make an impact in the IBD community.
I met Dr. Karen Edelblum at CCFA's Camp Oasis in 2010, where she expressed to me that if I wanted to observe a scientist at work I was more than welcome to visit her in her lab at the University of Chicago.
After visiting Dr. Edelblum for a few days in her lab I knew that working in the researching world was a perfect niche for me. After that summer I continued to come back and observe Dr. Edelblum's work, eventually leading to me participating in a fellowship with her during the summer of 2014.
Throughout the summers where I got to observe Dr. Edelblum I learned how to successfully research into new ideas and topics I may have throughout my researching career. She also exposed me to techniques that only a well qualified scientist could successfully teach and explain to a young undergraduate student. But not only did Dr. Edelblum show me all of these wonderful aspects of the science world; she showed me that throughout the difficult moments that IBD may throw at you, you are in control and YOU can ALWAYS push through and succeed. The experience that I had with Dr. Edelblum, showed me how invaluable a mentor like Dr. Edelblum is.
"I'm that little bit of hope. When my back's against the ropes. I can feel it, SHE'S THE WORLDS GREATEST!"
What your Donation Supports
This fund supports Dr. Edelblum reach her goal for obtaining funds to successfully find a new treatment or possible cure for IBD.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, affects 1.6 million Americans -- that's 1 in 200 people, including myself.
Although the exact cause of IBD remains unknown, faulty regulation of the immune system, the bacteria normally found in the intestine, along with genetic and environmental factors, all contribute to development of the disease. A single layer of cells called the epithelium, is the only barrier between the immune system and the food products and bacteria that pass through your intestine. Maintenance of this one cell layer-thick barrier is essential to prevent infection or leak of bacterial products, which would further activate the immune system.
Her laboratory has found that one group of immune cells called gamma delta intraepithelial lymphocytes (IEL) actively migrate among the cells that make up this barrier. This "border patrol" is required to prevent intestinal bacteria from invading epithelium and inducing inflammation. The patrolling behavior of gamma delta IELs changes when the epithelial cells recognize bacteria, and the gamma delta IEL is almost immediately attracted to an infected cell to prevent the bacteria from invading the tissue. Since many of the known genetic mutations associated with IBD are involved in the recognition and response to intestinal bacteria, we aim to better understand whether gamma delta IEL surveillance of the epithelium is altered in IBD patients. She hopes that she can use the migratory behavior of these cells to reinforce the integrity of the intestinal barrier as a potential therapy to prevent disease relapse and maintain remission in IBD patients.