I have worked in public health for my entire adult life. Never has it been more evident than through this Covid-19 experience that the federal government is central to our health and the health of our families and our communities. Through our massive institutions — the FDA, NIH, CDC, HHS, and others — it is determined which diseases are recognized, treated, and prevented or cured. Many experts have told me that the primary reason that celiac disease to this day has no approved treatments beyond the gluten-free diet is that the federal government has failed to recognize the pervasiveness and seriousness of the disease.

With your help, we have invested significant resources into changing that reality in Washington, DC, and we are beginning to see a return on that investment. I want to share with you another recent success. For the first time ever, thanks to the efforts of the Celiac Disease Foundation, celiac disease has been submitted for inclusion in the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP).

According to the Congressional Research Service, the CDMRP is a Department of Defense (DOD) program that receives congressional appropriations explicitly for biomedical research in specific, congressionally identified health matters. For FY2021, Congress appropriated almost $1.5 billion to CDMRP. For more information about the process around CDMRP and how the 2021 appropriation was allocated, here is a short primer Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs Funding for FY2021.

I want you to understand that we are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to elevate celiac disease research in Washington. One reason for our success to date is the passion of the celiac disease community. When asked, our community has stepped up, again and again, to contact their Congressional representatives and others to effect change.

That commitment continues with our Second Annual Patient Education & Advocacy Summit, a virtual event held on Thursday, March 4th. We are bringing together many of the world’s leading celiac disease researchers as well as policymakers from the federal health infrastructure to present to the community the latest in research and critical opportunities for advocacy on efforts like CDMRP, FY2022 NIH Appropriations, the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act, the Gluten in Medicine Disclosure Act, and more. Already, more than 1500 participants from around the globe have signed up to attend. If you are undecided, I invite you to join us. All participants receive a personalized zoom link to view as many, or as few, sessions of interest. Please register here.

I promise you that we will continue to be strategically relentless to keep the pressure on the federal government to treat celiac disease seriously. As always, your generous, tax-deductible support makes all of our work possible. If you are in a position to do so, please consider making a gift today.

Wishing you good health and a better 2021,

Marilyn G. Geller
Chief Executive