NEW YORK (June 05, 2014) — Weill Cornell Medical College announced today that through the generosity of longstanding benefactor Jill Roberts and the Jill Roberts Charitable Foundation it is establishing the Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Dr. David Artis, one of the world's leading immunologists, was recruited from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine to direct the institute, which is dedicated to understanding the molecular underpinnings of inflammatory bowel disease with the goal of translating basic research breakthroughs into the most advanced therapies for patients.
Mrs. Roberts' gift will also enable Dr. Artis to recruit a team of leading scientists to work at the institute and pursue innovative research to improve treatments and preventative therapies for patients who suffer from IBD and other chronic inflammatory diseases. The institute builds off the successes of Weill Cornell's already robust research and clinical care programs for IBD under the auspices of the Jill Roberts Center for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Department of Medicine and the Department of Surgery. It will be housed in the new Belfer Research Building and will collaborate closely with the center, which was established at Weill Cornell and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in 2006 with a gift from Mrs. Roberts to treat patients with IBD.
Dr. Artis is currently an associate professor in microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and program director of inflammation for the Penn Institute of Immunology. He is also an associate professor of pathobiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. A distinguished investigator who is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, his research focuses on the body's immune system, how it fights infection and how its normal function can become dysregulated, leading to the development of chronic inflammatory diseases including psoriasis, arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
"We are deeply grateful to Jill Roberts for her dedication and remarkable foresight, which have enabled Weill Cornell to assemble a world-class team and establish us as a leader in inflammatory bowel disease research and patient care," said Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College. "We are delighted to have preeminent scientist Dr. David Artis join us to lead the new Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. With the incidence of diseases like Crohn's and ulcerative colitis on the rise, it is incumbent upon us to develop new therapies and ultimately a cure for these devastating diseases. Jill's vision and David's expertise will enable us to make transformative research breakthroughs, and I'm very excited about what we can accomplish together."
"With the development of innovative new approaches and technologies, we have the opportunity to revolutionize our thinking about the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases like inflammatory bowel disease," said Dr. Augustine Choi, the Sanford I. Weill Chairman of the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell. "I can think of no better person than Dr. Artis to spearhead these efforts and revolutionize patient treatment for the millions of people who suffer from IBD."
"It is vital that we find a cure, and I am certain that this new research institute, working in tandem with the Jill Roberts Center for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, will bring us closer to that goal," Mrs. Roberts said. "I am thrilled that Dr. Artis will lead our efforts to make great strides against these diseases."
"The opportunity to establish and lead the Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease will allow us to develop innovative new approaches to understand how these diseases develop and identify how we can translate these findings into the clinic to better treat patients," Dr. Artis said. "Jill Roberts has a lifetime commitment to supporting basic and translational research in inflammatory bowel disease, and I am honored to have the opportunity to build a larger community of multidisciplinary researchers who are focused on inflammatory bowel disease and related inflammatory diseases."
Inflammatory bowel disease is a group of inflammatory conditions of the intestine that affects an estimated 1.4 million people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The main forms of IBD are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Symptoms include intestinal bleeding and severe abdominal pain and discomfort.
The mission of the research institute is to establish a multidisciplinary center of excellence that will accelerate new scientific discoveries, enabling personalized translational medicine to better prevent and treat inflammatory bowel disease in patients. Dr. Artis will recruit a team of top-flight investigators from multiple fields to focus on basic discovery efforts, translate findings into patient- based studies and train the next generation of researchers in this field.
As part of Weill Cornell's expansion in IBD research, it has recruited Dr. Gregory F. Sonnenberg, an immunologist and research associate in the Department of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Dr. Sonnenberg's research focuses on why the immune system sometimes overreacts to good bacteria in the intestinal tract, potentially causing inflammatory bowel disease.
A multidisciplinary team of basic, clinical and translational scientists within the institute will investigate how these diseases are influenced by patient genetic factors, the body's immune system, beneficial microbial communities that live in the intestine, and other environmental factors. Their collaboration with the Jill Roberts Center for Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Weill Cornell and NewYork- Presbyterian Hospital, led by Dr. Ellen Scherl, the Jill Roberts Professor of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell, will establish a new patient tissue biobank and employ patient-oriented basic research and clinical trials to investigate the factors that influence the development of inflammatory bowel disease. Using model systems to develop discovery efforts, coupled with patient-based clinical studies and trials, researchers hope to develop innovative translational treatments and therapies for inflammatory bowel disease.
"I look forward to leading the new institute at Weill Cornell and being on the frontlines of developing the next generation of innovative basic discoveries and translational clinical studies that will revolutionize our approaches to treat and prevent inflammatory bowel disease and other inflammatory diseases," Dr. Artis said.
Background Information on Dr. David Artis
Dr. Artis is a member of the American Association of Immunology and the British Society for Immunology. He has authored more than 70 peer-reviewed articles and 40 review and book chapters. Dr. Artis serves as an ad hoc reviewer for multiple publications, including Nature, Science and Cell. He has also served as a consulting editor for the Journal of Clinical Investigation, an associate editor for Mucosal Immunology and sits on the International Journal for Parasitology Editorial Board. Dr. Artis has also reviewed for or served on several national and international study sections, including for the National Institutes of Health, the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America Senior Investigator Panel, the Broad Foundation, the Agence Nationale de la Recherche in France, Cooperation Europeenne dans Ledomaine de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique in the European Union, and the Wellcome Trust in the United Kingdom.
He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the AAI-BD Biosciences Investigator Award (2013), the Stanley N. Cohen Biomedical Research Award (2012), the Lady Barbara Colyton Prize for Autoimmune Research (2011), Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases (2008), International Cytokine Society Junior Faculty Award (2007), AAI Junior Faculty Award (2006) and the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America Young Investigator Award (2005).
Dr. Artis received his B.Sc. degree in parasitology in 1995 from the University of Glasgow in Scotland and a Ph.D. in immunology in 1998 from the University of Manchester Medical School in England. After receiving the Wellcome Trust International Prize Traveling Research Fellowship in 2000, he completed his postdoctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and earned a position on Penn's faculty in 2005.
Weill Cornell Medical College
Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University's medical school located in New York City, is committed to excellence in research, teaching, patient care and the advancement of the art and science of medicine, locally, nationally and globally. Physicians and scientists of Weill Cornell Medical College are engaged in cutting-edge research from bench to bedside aimed at unlocking mysteries of the human body in health and sickness and toward developing new treatments and prevention strategies. In its commitment to global health and education, Weill Cornell has a strong presence in places such as Qatar, Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Through the historic Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Cornell University is the first in the U.S. to offer a M.D. degree overseas. Weill Cornell is the birthplace of many medical advances — including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer, the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial of gene therapy for Parkinson's disease, and most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. Weill Cornell Medical College is affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where its faculty provides comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The Medical College is also affiliated with Houston Methodist. For more information, visit weill.cornell.edu.