Researchers Receive Synergy Award Funding from Kenneth Rainin Foundation

Aida Habtezion, MD

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation has awarded $750,000 for collaborative research projects on inflammatory bowel disease. It designated $200,000 of that amount for Aida Habtezion and Sidhartha Sinha’s project: Secondary Bile Acids Modulate Intestinal Inflammation. Together with Justin Sonnenburg, PhD, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology, Habtezion and Sinha are researching the effects of secondary bile acids (SBAs) on the inflammation of surgically created rectums that replace diseased colons. Improved understanding of SBAs is necessary for assessing their potential as a new therapeutic target for IBD.

The Foundation seeks to fund projects that embody the spirit of collaboration and engage in translational science. As Averil Ma, MD, Chair of the Foundation's Scientific Advisory explains: “We are excited about this year’s funded projects, all of which are dependent on multiple research labs working together toward a singular goal." Laura Wilson, PhD, Director of Health Strategy and Ventures for the Rainin Foundation, agreed, adding: “Our awards for translational science support the Health program’s goals. We’re looking for transformational ideas. These types of projects appeal to us because they tend to be risky, and therefore difficult to fund, but can have significant impact on moving the needle of research.”

Sidhartha Sinha, MD

About the recipients

Habtezion, MD, assistant professor in gastroenterology and hepatology, is a Ballinger-Swindells Family Scholar. She attended medical school at McMaster University and completed residency at the University of Western Ontario. She earned gastroenterology fellowship from University of Toronto and postdoctoral research fellowship from Stanford. She is a member of the Crohn's and Colitis National Scientific Advisory Committee, National Institute of Health Study Section, and serves on the editorial board of Gastroenterology.

Sinha, MD, is an instructor of gastroenterology and hepatology. He received his MD from the University of California, San Francisco, and has completed fellowships in gastroenterology as well as biodesign at Stanford. Sinha has worked on several multidisciplinary research projects with organizations like the World Health Organization and Columbia University’s Health Information and Technology Lab. He is broadly interested in translating biomedical innovations into novel therapeutics and diagnostics, and his research is focused on developing cost-effective technologies to provide targeted therapies for GI immune-mediated disorders.