AGA, General Mills announce grant to uncover role between intestinal bacteria and health and disease

December 20, 2010

The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition (FDHN) announced that Anisa Shaker, MD, is the recipient of the AGA-General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition Research Scholar Award in Gut Physiology and Health. This award provides $225,000 over three years for a young investigator working toward an independent career studying the relationship of gut microflora to physiology and immune function.

"Researchers are working hard to try to understand how the environment of the digestive system relates to and affects other bodily functions, including a person's immunity," said Nicholas F. LaRusso, MD, AGAF, chair of the AGA Foundation. "The AGA Foundation is grateful for the support shown by the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition in funding research that will help gastroenterologists continue to better understand and manage digestive health."

"This award will allow me to continue to cultivate and expand growing research interests that align with my clinical interest in inflammatory disorders and malignancies of the luminal GI tract. This generous funding will also provide me with protected time necessary for continued focused research, afford me the opportunity to continue to generate meaningful data and ultimately, to be a competitive candidate for independent federal grant support," said Dr. Shaker.

An assistant professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine, Dr. Shaker will focus her research on investigating epimorphin (Epim -/-) mice microbiota in colitis and colitis-associated cancer to understand gut microbial ecology during homeostasis and disease, delineate factors that modulate the intestinal microbiota, and uncover potential therapies to establish a luminal environment protective against colitis and colitis-associated cancer. (Mice that lack the protein Epim -/- are protected from the development of colitis and colitis-associated colon cancer. To learn more about colon or colorectal cancer, visit the AGA's patient center at www.gastro.org/patient-center.)

Said Susan Crockett, PhD, RD, senior technology officer, General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, "As part of General Mills' mission of nourishing lives, the Bell Institute is committed to championing health innovation. We value the collaborative partnership with AGA and are committed to providing research funding to further elucidate the relationship between gut microbiota and health."
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About FDHN

The Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition (FDHN) is the foundation of the American Gastroenterological Association. The foundation's mission is to provide funds for research and public education in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of digestive diseases. Each year, FDHN gives more than $1.2 million in digestive health research grants to young investigators through contributions from AGA members, patients and family members of those who suffer from digestive diseases, national foundations, and corporations with an interest in digestive health. For more information on the awards program or to make a donation, visit www.fdhn.org.

About the AGA Institute

The American Gastroenterological Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, the AGA has grown to include 17,000 members from around the globe who are involved in all aspects of the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology. The AGA Institute administers the practice, research and educational programs of the organization. www.gastro.org.

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About the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition Research

One of the world's leading food companies, General Mills operates in more than 100 countries and markets more than 100 consumer brands, including Cheerios, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Progresso, Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen and more. General Mills is headquartered in Minneapolis, MN. The Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition leads nutrition-related initiatives at General Mills. The mission of the Bell Institute, and its staff of doctorate- and master-level scientists and registered dietitians, is to be the source of health and nutrition expertise that creates value for General Mills. They are committed to communicating evidence-based health and nutrition information and work with leading scientists from universities around the globe to further research in nutrition and health. The Bell Institute supports the work of health professionals by sponsoring educational efforts and developing continuing education programs and patient education materials to advance the understanding of nutrition science. www.bellinstitute.com.

American Gastroenterological Association

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