Edward L. Barnes, MD, MPH, assistant professor in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology, is a recipient of the 2021 Sherman Prizes and Sherman Emerging Leader Prize, recognizing excellence in the field of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, also known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).
“When I started doing IBD research, it was the best thing that happened in my career,” Barnes explained in a Sherman Prize interview that describes him with an unquenchable thirst for answers, one that took him from a small town in South Carolina, where he once thought he would be a town doctor, to the forefront of IBD research.
Barnes has been awarded the $25,000 Sherman Emerging Leader Prize for applying his expertise in epidemiology and the study of “big data” to tackle one of the most difficult complications for people with ulcerative colitis – the development of pouchitis after J-pouch surgery. This painful inflammation of the pouch lining impacts up to 80% of patients after surgery and, until now, the epidemiology and disease course for these patients has not been well characterized.
“As an IBD fellow I saw that treating pouchitis usually involved a ‘try it and see’ approach because we didn’t have much real-world data,” said Barnes, who is also associate program director for the GI fellowship program.
To better understand the condition, Barnes created the first validated algorithm to define pouchitis in large databases, making it possible to describe pouch outcomes on a larger scale. Today, Barnes leads the pioneering PROP-RD study (A Prospective Registry for the Study of Outcomes and Predictors in Pouchitis and Pouch-Related Disorders) to investigate real-world outcomes after pouch surgery. Through this research, Barnes hopes to be able to predict which patients are at greatest risk for pouchitis and identify interventions to prevent them from developing the condition. This epidemiological study, and a similar one he’s conducting in Denmark, are giving the IBD field insights into the prevalence and treatment of pouchitis on a larger scale – opening avenues for the development of novel therapies.
“Through this research, I hope to be able to develop criteria to predict which patients are at greatest risk for pouchitis and identify earlier interventions to improve their quality of life after surgery,” said Barnes.
The 2021 Sherman Prize recipients are innovators and challengers of the status quo, representing diverse IBD sub-specialties and applying their unique talents to help patients coping with some of the most intractable challenges of these diseases. The 2021 Sherman Prize winners will be honored at the Advances in IBD conference in Orlando, Florida, on Dec. 9, 2021.