Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center Research and Innovation

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While treating children and teens with IBD is a big part of our mission, we're also committed to researching the biological causes of Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis. By better understanding what causes these conditions—and closely studying the precise ways they affect the body—our team can provide the top care for our patients, informed by the most up-to-date research and clinical knowledge. For detailed description of ongoing studies, see the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treatment and Research Center.

While treating children and teens with IBD is a big part of our mission, we're also committed to researching the biological causes of Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis. By better understanding what causes these conditions—and closely studying the precise ways they affect the body—our team can provide the top care for our patients, informed by the most up-to-date research and clinical knowledge. 

Doctors and scientists at the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center are constantly studying the causes of IBD and working on ways to develop new treatments to help patients that don't respond well to typical treatments. Currently, our researchers are studying:

  • how bacteria affect the intestines of IBD patients
  • how the immune systems of patients with IBD are unique
  • new medications to treat IBD
  • how children with IBD respond to different immunizations
  • new, noninvasive methods that would make diagnosis easier for future patients.

Many of our patients participate in these studies and clinical trials because they are interested in helping progress the understanding and treatment of IBD, for themselves and children all over the world. Participation in clinical studies is 100% voluntary.

A leader in research and treatment of early onset IBD

Doctors are seeing more and more cases of IBD these days, especially in young children under the age of ten. But did you know that when children this young are diagnosed with the disease they often have different symptoms—and require different treatment—than older children or adults with IBD?

Infants and toddlers with IBD tend to have severe inflammation of the intestine, which is often unresponsive to typical medical treatments used to alleviate IBD symptoms in older children. In some cases the disease can be very severe, especially among infants. In these instances, if left untreated, the IBD could destroy the child's colon and even prove fatal in some cases.

To better understand the mechanics of how early onset IBD affects the body, researchers at the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center have partnered with doctors and scientist from all over the world to create an international consortium of medical centers devoted to studying early onset IBD.

Though it's still very early in the research phase, initial findings have been very promising. Genetic testing is being used to trace the cause of certain types of early onset IBD back to mutations in specific genes. With the IBD causing mutation identified, doctors can customize a patient's therapy to their exact needs—ensuring that treatment is as effective and targeted as possible.

As research in this exciting new field continues to evolve, Boston Children's doctors and scientists are confident they will be able to improve diagnostic tests and treatments for the condition, making life with IBD much easier for young children and their families.

For more information about our research, please email us at ibdcenter@childrens.harvard.edu.

Contact the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center

  • 1-617-355-6058
The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO
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