Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common diagnoses made by gastroenterologists and primary care providers alike, and yet the underlying causes of IBS are poorly understood. Advances in genetics and genomics during the past decade, including sequencing of the human genome and DNA sequencing technologies, have made it possible to discover the genetic basis for many diseases. With the discovery of multiple genetic loci for other gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease, we believe there are discoverable genes for IBS. As genetic research in IBS is relatively nascent, much opportunity, as well as many challenges, exists in identifying the genes responsible for IBS.
Our patient oriented research centers on studying the genetics of IBS in families, identification of environmental and social risk factors for IBS, patient education, diet and nutritional factors, and treatment efficacy in patients with IBS. Through funding by the National Institutes of Health, a current study seeks to identify patterns of symptom transmission through family members and potential genes responsible for bowel symptoms.
The ultimate goal of our research program is to better understand the mechanisms underlying IBS so that better diagnostic tests and treatments can be identified and created for patients.