Hartford, CT – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Jeffrey S. Hyams, MD, Division Head of Gastroenterology and expert in Crohn’s Disease, a $14M, 5-year grant to investigate the triggers behind the chronic intestinal inflammation seen in Crohn’s Disease and, more importantly, why some children respond quickly to current therapies and others do not.

This research grant is the largest grant awarded to Connecticut Children’s in its history and will help doctors nationally to collect substantial data on pediatric Crohn’s diseases patients that in turn will improve understanding of the pronounced variability in treatment response. Dr. Hyams and his colleagues from children’s hospital across the U.S. hope to one day match specific therapies to the biology of each newly diagnosed pediatric patient.

“Two decades ago we saw about 70 cases per year at Connecticut Children’s, and now that number has doubled. While there are many theories as to why, much evidence suggests that Western diets that are high in fat, sugars, and preservatives, as well as early life antibiotic exposure may be significant risk factors predisposing to the development of Crohn’s disease, said Jeffrey S. Hyams, MD, Connecticut Children’s, Division Head of Gastroenterology and the Mandell Braunstein Family Endowed Chair in Pediatric IBD at Connecticut Children’s. “While most of our patients are teenagers, we are also seeing an increasing number of children diagnosed under the age of 10 years.”

The $14M grant from the National Institutes of Health will support a 5 year study entitled: CAMEO: Clinical, imaging, and endoscopic outcomes of children newly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. CAMEO, will be directed by Dr. Hyams, Lee “Ted” Denson, MD, from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, and Subra Kugathasan, MD from Emory University.
The study will involve 27 leading pediatric centers in North America and examine predictors of response and remission following current optimized treatment with anti-TNF biologics in children ages 6-17 years newly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. These types of biologics are now used in the majority of newly diagnosed children. The goal is to eventually enroll 900 kids while targeting 550 of them for the specific therapies. Nearly 50 of these children will be from Connecticut.

Crohn’s disease is a disorder in which inflammation (swelling, redness) arises in the gastrointestinal system causing abdominal pain, diarrhea, and bleeding. Its cause is currently unknown but thought to be due to an abnormal response of the immune system (white blood cells) lining the intestines to the trillions of bacteria that reside there. Over the past 2 decades there has been a dramatic increase in the number of children with this disorder.

“This study is the culmination of over twenty years of cooperative work by the leading experts in pediatric Crohn’s disease in the United States and Canada. We have a dream team of clinicians, research coordinators, and scientists who will be studying results in over 500 newly diagnosed children who are treated in a standard fashion,” said Dr. Hyams. “By examining how inflammation is regulated and the interaction of the body’s immune system with the intestinal microbiome we hope to better understand why some children rapidly get better and others do not respond to therapy. This is the goal of precision or personalized medicine.”

The grant award is of significance to the state as well. In a recent report released by the United for Medical Research (UMR) on the impact of all National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding on the U.S. economy and individual states found that every $1 invested in NIH research drives $2.64 of new economic activity.
In Connecticut, 1,475 NIH grants totaling $725.2 million in funding were awarded to researchers in FY2022 supporting 8,442 jobs and generating $1.68 billion in economic activity.

Media Contact:

mbuchanan [at] connecticutchildrens.org (Monica Buchanan), Senior Director, Strategic Communications
Connecticut Children’s

About Connecticut Children’s
Connecticut Children’s is the only hospital in Connecticut dedicated exclusively to the care of children and ranked one of the best children’s hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and a Magnet® designated hospital. Connecticut Children’s provides more than 30 pediatric specialties along with community-based programs to uniquely care for the physical, social, and emotional needs of children. Our team of pediatric experts and care coordinators bring access to breakthrough research, advanced treatments for both rare and common diseases, and innovative health and safety programs to every child. Connecticut Children’s is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to improve access to healthcare for all children through convenient locations, care alliances and partnerships.