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LocationReport Date

National Institutes of Health

17 November 2000

PARA board members meet with Director of National Institutes of Health

Purpose of meeting

On November 17, 2000, two members of PARA's Board of Directors -- Cheryl Miller and Steve Merkel - traveled to Bethesda, Maryland, to meet with Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, Acting Director, U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Dr. Carole Heilman, Director, Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

The purpose of the meeting was to encourage immediate and aggressive funding from NIH/NIAID and the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to fulfill the NIAID's new Research Recommendations published in 1999 - research recommendations which address a potential infectious cause of Crohn's disease, with Mycobacterium avium, subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) as "prime suspect."

Major points covered in meeting

  1. PARA's concern that, although some pilot projects have been funded, to date, significant funds have not yet been allocated for specific research into an infectious cause of Crohn's disease.

  2. The rapidly mounting and increasingly compelling scientific evidence linking MAP/infectious agent to Crohn's disease.

  3. Impact of anti-mycobacterial treatment in Crohn's patients, including intestinal photographs documenting healing in patients responding to the treatment.

  4. Increasing incidence of Crohn's disease in the U.S. and its correlation with the increasing epidemic of MAP infection in U.S. dairy herds - with the nationwide infection prevalence rate in large herds at 40% in 1996, and more currently with MAP infection documented in over 50% of herds in Alabama, Wisconsin and Michigan.

  5. Status of milk studies -- in eight out of ten studies scientists have concluded that MAP is capable of surviving U.S. pasteurization standards.

  6. Suffering of Crohn's patients and the food safety issues if MAP is causing Crohn's, particularly related to the potential for infant/child infection and this possible "emerging infectious disease."

  7. Plea to the NIH/NIAID to immediately fund aggressive Crohn's/MAP research.

In response to PARA's concerns, Dr. Kirschstein offered very encouraging information about potential future funding of this critical research.

Futher, Dr. Kirschstein highly commended PARA on its work, stating that PARA's efforts had been critical and, indeed, key to "raising awareness and to promoting additional research into Crohn's disease."

PARA is greatly encouraged by information gained in this meeting. Additionally, PARA is humbled and honored by Dr. Kirschstein's commendation on the effectiveness and success of our efforts.


NIH/NIAID Research Agenda

Source:   Contact PARA:
Paratuberculosis Awareness & Research Association