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Loma Linda University Health receives $430,000 federal grant to study potential treatment for inflammatory bowel disease


LOMA LINDA, CA — March 15, 2019 — Loma Linda University Health has received a more than $430,000 grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health to study ways vitamin D could potentially be used to enhance intestinal wall repair of patients suffering inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 

IBD is a chronic and debilitating disease in human intestines that affects approximately 1.6 million Americans. The number of people affected by IBD is rising worldwide, making it an increasingly global disease in the 21st century. 

The grant is for two years with a total of $433,340 in funding. 

“I am very excited that our idea is supported by the experts in our field,” said Xiaolei Tang, MD, PhD, an associate research professor at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and lead research for the grant. “I hope that this study will eventually benefit patients at Loma Linda University Health and around the world.”

U.S. Congressman Pete Aguilar (CA-31) said he was pleased that Loma Linda University Health — which resides in his district — was awarded this grant.

“Loma Linda is a national leader in medical research, a major provider of good-paying jobs in our region, and a world-renowned medical center,” Aguilar said. “I’m proud to announce this grant funding, which will allow Loma Linda University Health to conduct groundbreaking new research and continue growing its legacy of innovation.” 

Aguilar is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and has been a consistent advocate for NIH funding to make these types of grants possible.

IBD is caused by a disordered immune response to intestinal bacteria. Normally, bacteria is contained outside the intestinal wall for food digestion and is prevented from entering other organs. However, this immune disorder can damage the intestinal wall, allowing bacteria to enter into other organs. A vicious cycle starts: bacteria in the internal organs further worsen the immune disorder, which in turn lets more bacteria pass through the gut wall into internal organs. The vicious cycle continues unless the gut wall is completely repaired. 

No medications are currently available to repair the damaged intestinal wall. Recent research has suggested that, under healthy conditions, vitamin D is a key component for the normal functions of intestinal stem cells. Intestinal stem cells are known to renew the intestinal wall every 5 to 7 days to ensure its integrity. Tang will use the awarded grant to examine if such renewal mechanisms can be harnessed for the repair of damaged intestinal wall. He and his team will determine how vitamin D affects the functions of intestinal stem cells.  

The grant award number is R21AI142170.

About Loma Linda University Health

Loma Linda University Health includes Loma Linda University's eight professional schools, Loma Linda University Medical Center's six hospitals and more than 1,000 faculty physicians located in the Inland Empire of Southern California. Established in 1905, Loma Linda University Health is a global leader in education, research and clinical care. It offers over 100 academic programs and provides quality health care to over 40,000 inpatients and 1.5 million outpatients each year. A Seventh-day Adventist organization, Loma Linda University Health is a faith-based health system with a mission "to continue the teaching and healing ministry of Jesus Christ."


This press release was provided by Loma Linda University Health and originally appeared on the LLUH website.

Image courtesy of LLUH: Xiaolei Tang, MD, PhD, associate research professor at Loma Linda University School of Medicine.


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