This week I will be traveling to New York City to attend Celiac Disease: On the Horizon – a livestream international symposium hosted by the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, where I will present during a session entitled Funding Opportunities in Celiac Disease Research and Management to update our community on the current state of research grant funding, and to also share recent Celiac Disease Foundation advocacy news that has contributed to securing first-ever research funding by the federal government. For the third time, the Celiac Disease Foundation is delighted to sponsor this two-day event that brings together the world’s brightest celiac disease researchers to discuss the path forward for the diagnosis, treatment, and cure for celiac disease.

Again this year, at the request of the symposium organizers, the Foundation has invited federal government representatives to speak at the conference. Representatives from two key federal research funding agencies have submitted videos to be shown at the conference, and each will highlight advancements in federal policy generated, in part, by the Foundation’s ongoing advocacy work in Washington on behalf of the celiac disease patient community.

Dr. Annette Rothermel from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) will highlight the creation in 2021 of the first-ever Notice of Special Interest for celiac disease and the resulting increase in celiac disease research funding from the NIH. She will also note that celiac disease has been included – also for the first time ever – in the NIH’s Research, Condition, and Disease Categorization (RCDC) system, allowing anyone to more easily track NIH funding for celiac disease research.

In May 2020, I and a select group of celiac disease researchers were asked to speak at a meeting of the NIH’s Autoimmune Disease Coordinating Committee. At that meeting, we emphasized that investments in celiac disease research might be a gateway to better understand how to treat and cure the 100+ other autoimmune diseases that affect between 20 and 50 million Americans – predominately women. It appears our presentations had an impact. Dr. Rothermel will also share in her video presentation that the creation of a Special Office of Autoimmune Disease Research (OADR) under the Office of Research on Women’s Health within the NIH will help to coordinate and streamline celiac disease and all autoimmune research across different institutes and centers in the NIH.

Kathryn Argue, PhD, Deputy Program Manager for the Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP) at the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (DOD-CDMRP) will also present to the symposium via video. Again, due in part to the advocacy work of the Foundation, celiac disease is listed, for the first time ever, as eligible for funding from DOD-CDMRP. Earlier this year, CDF hosted a webinar to encourage and guide researchers to submit proposals for celiac disease research to the CDMRP, which is a unique funding source that supports innovative, high-impact research on diseases that affect military personnel, veterans, their families – and all Americans.

The Columbia Symposium is a rare and valuable opportunity for leaders and influencers in celiac disease research to connect, share, and learn. We believe that the symposium agenda reflects the impact of patient advocacy in shaping the federal biomedical research agenda and advancing the science that will lead to treatments and a cure for celiac disease. We can do this work because of the loyal support of our patient community, and we thank you for your continued generosity.

We will be providing a summary of the symposium to keep you informed of key developments. As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to me directly at [email protected].

To Our Health,

Marilyn G. Geller
Chief Executive Officer