2015-07-01 19:39:18 UTC

Aug. 5, 2015

“The AGA-Rome funding will allow me to make important contributions that will benefit children with FGIDs and venture into new and important areas of research.”

Miranda A.L. van Tilburg, PhD, from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is one of two deserving winners of the 2015 AGA-Rome Foundation Functional GI and Motility Disorders Pilot Research Award. We asked Dr. van Tilburg a couple of questions about her research goals.

What does your current research focus on?
My research focuses mainly on pediatric functional GI disorders (FGIDs) and includes developing and testing behavioral treatments as well as examining the role of parent-child interactions in symptom maintenance. In addition, I am investigating the role of mitochondrial DNA in chronic pain disorders.

How will you use this grant from the AGA Research Foundation and the Rome Foundation?
This grant will allow me to test and validate the future Rome IV criteria. The validation of the Rome IV pediatric diagnostic criteria can be expected to have an immediate impact on the clinical management of children with FGIDs and to facilitate research on these disorders by providing investigators with a validated and widely-accepted set of diagnostic inclusion criteria.

How will this award impact your personal research career?
This research on Rome IV diagnostic criteria will provide me with the foundation I need to enter two new and exciting areas of research. The first area is the study of FGIDs in infants and toddlers. More than one quarter of children ages 0 to 3 years old suffer from FGIDs, but this age group has received very limited scientific attention. Research is needed on pathophysiology and evidence-based treatments for this age group.

Another new area I plan to enter is cross-cultural research in pediatric FGIDs. Although studies in adults have suggested important differences in prevalence, diagnosis and treatment of FGIDs in different regions of the world, data in children are largely lacking. Children have a limited understanding of health and disease, and limited use of words for symptoms compared to adults, which challenges cross-cultural research. In addition, children are exposed to different pathogens, diets, parenting techniques and stress levels across cultures, which may affect FGIDs.

Why is this research important?
Pediatric FGIDs are common, afflicting up to one in four children worldwide. Diagnoses are symptom-based, and valid diagnostic criteria and validated questionnaires are of the utmost importance for clinical use and scientific research into the causes, consequences and treatments of these disorders. 

Dr. van Tilburg would like to express her gratitude to the AGA Research Foundation, its donors and the Rome Foundation for this recognition and validation of her work.

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