Multi-million Dollar Funding for WVU Digestive Diseases Section Brings Awards, Prestige


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Researchers at West Virginia University have won nearly $5 million in National Institutes of Health funding to help research inflammatory bowel disease, which is highly prevalent in West Virginia.

“The NIH has labeled IBD research as a high priority area,” said Uma Sundaram, M.D., chief of WVU’s Digestive Diseases section of the Department of Medicine.  “We don’t know what causes the disease but we know it needs treated.”  Inflammatory bowel disease affects more than 600,000 Americans every year.


The WVU digestive diseases research team includes nine researchers; seven will present their research at the 2007 Digestive Disease Week Conference, May 19 to 24 in Washington, D.C.

“Prior to 2004, we had never presented a paper at this conference,” said John E.  Prescott, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine.  “Now, just a few years later, WVU is a leader at the conference.  It shows that our research is valuable and our researchers are recognized by their colleagues as some of the best in the field.”

V.M. Rajendran, Ph.D., and Sundaram were both selected as committee chairs for the conference of more than 16,000 scientists and researchers from across the globe.  This is the first time two WVU faculty members have been chosen as chairs. 

Uma Sundaram, M.D., chief of WVU’s Digestive Diseases section of the Department of Medicine. 

“The chairs are often seen as experts in their field,” Sundaram said.  “Dr. Rajendran and I are so honored that our peers and colleagues have selected us to participate in the presentations.”

Their invitations are likely a result of the recent success and new recruits for the department.  Researchers like Rajendran, who joined WVU after a 20-year tenure at Yale University, bring their lab and funding operations when arriving at the university. 

WVU is also the one of only 20 centers in the nation to offer a new clinical treatment drug for Hepatitis C.  According to Sundaram, this pill is the first effective new treatment for Hepatitis C made available in the past ten years. 

“Hepatitis C affects 4 to 5 million people in the United States,” he said.  “Our state has a very large population of Hepatitis C sufferers.”

Sundaram stresses that these clinical trials and awards are just the beginning for the digestive diseases section.

“Cutting edge research will result in state-of-the-art patient care for our citizens,” Sundaram said.  “This will continue to be our focus.” 

The department’s research efforts continue to gain national praise. Two lead articles published in the February issue of the American Journal of Physiology were products of the Digestive Diseases research team. 

For more information on the WVU Digestive Diseases department go to www.hsc.wvu.edu/som/medicine/digestiveDiseases/ or call (304) 293-4123.

- WVU -

For more information:
Steve Bovino, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087

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