Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research

The Center for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is improving lives through research. With many of the top clinical experts in the field, our research aims to improve the health and wellbeing of children and their families affected by IBD — Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and indeterminate colitis.

Our research is designed to improve and personalize treatment options, as well as advance the current knowledge of the disease. We are an international leader, not only in the exploration of new medical therapies in the laboratory, but also in the application of these discoveries to real-life situations where their use has the potential to improve children’s lives.

The Center for Pediatric IBD is currently involved in about 40 studies, with nearly 1,500 active patients from around the world, making us the largest research program anywhere for pediatric IBD.

Although the exact cause of the disease is still unknown, the prevention and cure of IBD will result from continuing to vastly improve our understanding of the genetic, immunologic and environmental causes of IBD in at-risk individuals.

Our research models

Our investigative efforts focus on the following areas of interest:

  • Nutritional, nonpharmacological interventions
  • Clinical trials with novel drug therapies
  • Immunology
  • Genetic studies including exome sequencing and genotyping
  • Microbiome
  • Enteroids
  • Bio-repository and registry for improved quality of care

Genetics

The initial onset of IBD has been associated with interactions between genes and environmental factors. To understand more about this complex disease, we are studying the following:

  • The genetic factors that control an individual’s immune response.
  • The genetic makeup that is associated with characteristics of pediatric IBD, particularly the factors that are associated with the diagnosis and treatment of children younger than 5.  Elements involved include race, age at diagnosis, disease type (CD, UC, IBDU), location of disease activity, response to therapy, and risk of surgery.
  • VEO (Very Early Onset) IBD and the genetic factors that are associated with the diagnosis and treatment of children younger than 8.

Microbiome

Microbiome refers to the population of bacteria, yeast and viruses that live in and on humans. The primary objective of our research is to characterize the microbiome in children with IBD compared to healthy children, with the goal of improving how we diagnose and treat the disease. Specifically, we are researching the following:

  • Diet and antibiotic use effects on the intestinal microbiome 
  • The role of genetics and the composition of the gut microbiome

Our investigators in gastroenterology

Research resources

The center's location within a hospital environment provides important resources to conduct successful clinical research.

  • The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute is a facility specifically dedicated to the administration of all research conducted at CHOP.
  • The Hospital's Institutional Review Board ensures the protection of subjects and compliance with federal law.
  • The clinical laboratory facilities in the Hospital are state accredited by the College of American Pathologists and certified by the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

The Center for Pediatric IBD embraces a multidisciplinary approach to our studies and collaborates with experts from other centers and programs, including the departments of Rheumatology, Immunology, DermatologyRadiologyPathology and Nutrition.

To learn more about the current and ongoing research supported by the CHOP IBD Center please email IBDResearch@email.chop.edu or use our Clinical Research Finder tool.

Quality improvement

At CHOP, we strive to improve the quality, reliability and safety of the care we provide. We participate in a number of Quality Improvement initiatives for pediatric inflammatory bowel disease. The Improve Care Now Consortium is a national program, focused on developing and implementing the recommendations of the Model IBD Care (a guideline for consistent, reliable care). Learn more about our participation in this collaborative network.

Research at the Center for Pediatric IBD is made possible by the dedicated efforts of the IBD Family Resource Council (FRC).