Benaroya Research Institute

The incidence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is growing, affecting greater numbers of people in more countries worldwide. Inflammatory bowel disease includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They are autoimmune diseases in which the body’s immune system attacks the intestines, resulting in intestinal inflammation, abdominal pain and bleeding.

IBD affects approximately 1.4 million Americans, with Washington State having one of the highest rates. This disease usually appears in young people, leading to many years of suffering and disability. Benaroya Research Institute is fighting this disease with more resources than ever. Scientists devoted to understanding and finding solutions to the disease are asking these questions:

  • What causes the disease and how do people get it?
  • Which genes play a role?
  • How can we turn off the triggers that cause this disease?
  • Why do medications for IBD work in some people, but not in others?
  • How can we tailor our medications to find the best drug for our patients?
  • How can we make our medications even better and less expensive?
  • How can we prevent or cure this disease?

The team of scientists at BRI fighting against this disease include James Lord, MD, PhDElisa Boden, MD, and new to the team is Adam Lacy-Hulbert, PhD, and his laboratory. The group is also supported by the Digestive Disease Institute (DDI) at Virginia Mason Medical Center, where Drs. Lord and Boden see patients with IBD in a center of excellence headed by Michael Chiorean, MD. Dr. Lord is also collaborating with a leading pharmaceutical company to find new immune therapies that could be developed and brought to patients as soon as possible.

With a dedicated focus on collaboration, these scientists investigate IBD at the cellular level, study patients with IBD in a biorepository containing blood and tissue samples, and apply discoveries with patients in innovative clinical trials. Many other BRI researchers also support this work. For more information about joining a biorepository or clinical trial, visit

Originally Published in BRING IT ON Newsletter -  Winter 2013

Fighting Diseases

January 8, 2014

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