CCA IBD PhD Scholarship 2023

Sarah Melton

The CCA IBD PhD Scholarship of $75,000 over three years was offered in 2022. We are thrilled to announce that Sarah Melton, a dietitian studying through Monash University and working at Alfred Health has been awarded the scholarship for her research: ‘The role of exclusive enteral nutrition on intestinal physiology and microbiology’.

Exclusive Enteral Nutrition (EEN) reduces inflammation and allows complete gut healing in up to 80% of people with CD. Despite EEN having been shown to be effective in numerous studies, the ways in which it works to reduce inflammation is still unknown. To date, hypotheses as to why it may have this effect include by altering the gut microbiota, by removing potentially harmful components in the diet, by delivering nutrition directly to the gut and by allowing the gut to rest.

This study seeks to address these hypotheses by assessing how EEN works, through examinging its impact in a model of ‘normal’ and ‘diseased’ gut. This study intends to use a CD model of safely inducing intestinal stress in healthy subjects and measuring markers of subtle intestinal injury before and after they receive EEN for three weeks. This will also be replicated in siblings of those with CD. Finally, highly sensitive novel markers will then be assessed in CD patients on EEN.

By understanding the mechanisms of EEN we can be more targeted in our approach with this therapy (in who it may work better in, duration of treatment, inclusion of other foods/fluids) and inform future food based dietary trials. This ultimately would lead to better disease management and improved well-being of patients. By understanding the mechanisms of EEN and diet’s role in CD we may also be able to in the future understand how diet can be used to prevent disease, how it may contribute to causation of disease or maybe one day even ‘cure’ disease.

Click Here to read more about the scholarship.