Current Environment:

Research | Overview

Find out what Children's researchers are doing to find better treatments for ulcerative colitis.

Summary points 

  • A tremendous amount of research is currently being done to learn more about inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). There are two major types of research: clinical research, which is actually performed on patients, and basic research, which is carried out in scientific laboratories using animal models, isolated cells, or individual molecules, such as proteins and DNA. Clinical research is an opportunity for patients and families to participate in finding new information about IBD. Through research, scientists hope to develop new treatments, to understand the mechanism underlying illness, and ultimately to permanently control, or cure IBD.

  • Major areas of research in IBD are: genetic factors, which determine why some individuals have a susceptibility to IBD, the immune system, which causes the damage to the intestine in patients with IBD, and intestinal bacteria, which may be one of the factors that stimulate the immune system.

  • Research involves a partnership between the patient and the physician who is studying IBD. Patients (or the parents of minor children) must sign an informed consent before participating in a research study. This requires that the researcher explain the protocol, including the details of any tests to be performed, and answer any questions.

  • Clinical research may be performed locally, or may be multicenter and involve a collaboration between physicians at several different hospitals.

  • Notifying patients about active clinical research studies is done via mail, notices on websites, newsletters, or local newspapers. If you are interested in participating in a study, you should first discuss the study with your family and physician. For information on clinical research studies being conducted in the IBD Center at Boston Children's Hospital, please call 617-355-2962, or visit our website at

  • For information on clinical research studies being conducted in your local area, contact your primary gastroenterologist or your local CCFA branch.

  • Families can also help by making a donation to help support IBD research.