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Neuroscience Professor Chassaing Receives $100,000 Innovator Award


ATLANTA—Dr. Benoit Chassaing of Georgia State University’s College of Arts and Sciences has received a $100,000 Innovator Award from the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, part of $3 million awarded for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) research.

The grants will support researchers across the world as they study new ideas that could lead to breakthrough discoveries about IBD. Those who demonstrate significant progress are eligible for additional years of support.

Chassaing’s research involves the role of gut microbiota—which are known to be involved in a number of chronic inflammatory diseases—in intestinal inflammation. Chassaing and Dr. Andrew Gewirtz in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences have previously demonstrated in animal studies that food additives known as dietary emulsifiers, commonly found in processed foods to improve texture and extend shelf life, alter the composition of bacteria residing in the gut. They found such changes allowed bacteria to penetrate the mucus layer that lines and protects the intestine, which is normally sterile.

Chassaing will use the grant to study the impact of dietary emulsifiers on human microbiotas taken from IBD patients. The study will help advance scientific understanding of the non-genetic factors that contribute to IBD, and may result in new dietary advice for IBD patients.

“This year’s grantees are pursuing research that has the potential to yield important insights into this chronic disease.” said Dr. Laura Wilson, director of health strategy and ventures at the Kenneth Rainin Foundation. “Our Innovator Awards provide critical initial support to high-risk research that will help us improve the prevention and prediction, as well as better management, of the disease by doctors and patients.”

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