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Continued Funding for IBD Research Awarded to Timothy Hand, PhD

July 31, 2019
Timothy Hand, PhD, a scientist specializing in gastrointestinal immunology, received renewed funding from the Kenneth Rainin Foundation for his ongoing research project investigating the role of dietary simple sugars in predisposing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Dr. Hand’s Kenneth Rainin Foundation Innovator Award was initially funded in 2017 and has since received two years of additional support to continue the work.

Dr. Hand joined UPMC Children’s in 2015 after working as a postdoctoral fellow beginning in 2009 in the Laboratory of Parasitic Disease at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Hand currently holds the positions of Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research Scholar at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and he also is an assistant professor of in both the Department of Pediatrics and Department of Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine along with being the director of the University of Pittsburgh Gnotobiotic Core.

Broadly speaking, Dr. Hand’s research focuses on the development and regulation of T-cell responses against microbiota and how gastrointestinal infection may “unleash” the immune response against commensal bacteria and how such responses are controlled to prevent overt pathology. His research has many applications and may provide insight into a variety of diseases affecting children, including Crohn's disease, environmental enteropathy, and food allergies. His lab studies gastrointestinal immunity in the healthy gastrointestinal tract and host-invading pathogens that may disrupt tissue stability.

Dr. Hand’s Kenneth Rainin Foundation Innovator Award is funding work to elucidate how western diets that are high in fats and sugars, and low in fiber contribute to the incidence and development of IBD. Specifically, the Hand laboratory hopes to define novel sugar-modified mechanisms of the intestinal immune response with the hope that these will aid in efforts to design diets for IBD patients that will reduce inflammation and disease flares.