• Press Release

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Receives Helmsley Charitable Trust Grant for Crohn's Disease Research

  • New York, NY
  • (January 25, 2024)

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has been awarded a grant of more than $4 million from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to support an innovative research project aimed at understanding the early stages of Crohn’s disease before noticeable symptoms develop.

Led by the Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences along with the Dr. Henry D. Janowitz Division of Gastroenterology in the Department of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, the study will be conducted in collaboration with *Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

This initiative will create the "PROMISE Consortium" (PRediction and PRevention through Omics, Microbiome, Immune System, and Environment), pioneering research in the early stages of Crohn's disease before clinical symptoms emerge. It stands as the first consortium to comprehensively explore the predictive and preventive aspects through omics- and microbiome-related, immunological, and environmental factors.

The study, "Defining the Pre-Disease Phase of Crohn's Disease: Predict and Prevent," will initially focus on analyzing blood-based biomarkers in healthy individuals before they develop Crohn’s disease, comparing them to those who remain disease-free.

By assessing blood samples collected before diagnosis across multiple cohorts, the goal is to identify unique early biomarkers, distinguishing this initiative from conventional approaches focused on symptomatic stages.

The primary patient collections are the PREDICTS study cohort (incident Crohn's disease cases in the Defense Medical Surveillance System), the Nurses' Health Study (prospective cohort of 250,000 health professionals reporting medical conditions for 30 years), and the Genetic, Environmental, and Microbial project cohort (healthy first-degree relatives of Crohn's patients who later developed the disease).

“Motivated by the current limitations in Crohn’s treatments, effective for only about half of patients, our research seeks to redefine our understanding of the disease's origins. Rather than solely concentrating on symptom management, our work aims to predict and prevent Crohn’s development,” says Inga Peter, PhD, Professor of Genetics and Genomic Sciences at Icahn Mount Sinai and a Co-Principal Investigator.

In collaboration with Co-Principal Investigators Jean-Frédéric Colombel, MD, Ken Croitoru, MDCM, and Hamed Khalili, MD, MPH, the team seeks to revolutionize Crohn's management by identifying biomarkers for elevated disease risk. This could enable early monitoring, intervention, and prevention strategies. Additionally, insights into Crohn's triggers and pathways may lead to innovative and more effective treatments for patients with established disease. Dr. Colombel is Professor of Medicine (Gastroenterology) at Icahn Mount Sinai; Dr. Croitoru is Professor of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto; and Dr. Khalili is Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“We are grateful for the generous support from the Helmsley Charitable Trust for our research. This initiative aims to transform health care by focusing on predicting and preventing Crohn's disease, potentially making a significant impact on individuals at risk or currently facing the challenges of the condition," says Dr. Colombel.

In addition to addressing significant research questions, the grant will also fund an international conference aimed at bringing together several investigators working with other pre-disease cohorts from around the world to devise and advance Crohn’s disease interception and treatment strategies.

*Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto is not part of the Mount Sinai Health System.

About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with 48,000 employees working across eight hospitals, more than 400 outpatient practices, more than 600 research and clinical labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time—discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 9,000 primary and specialty care physicians and 11 free-standing joint-venture centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida. Hospitals within the System are consistently ranked by Newsweek’s® “The World’s Best Smart Hospitals, Best in State Hospitals, World Best Hospitals and Best Specialty Hospitals” and by U.S. News & World Report's® “Best Hospitals” and “Best Children’s Hospitals.” The Mount Sinai Hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report® “Best Hospitals” Honor Roll for 2023-2024.

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