$1.8 Million Grant For Crohn’s Disease-On-A-Chip

CC BY-ND 2.0 | Human Body Chip. Source:  NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Science , no changes made.

Hyun Jung Kim, a biomedical engineering assistant professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas (UT) at Austin and assistant professor in the Department of Oncology in UT’s Dell Medical School has received a $1.8 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. Kim will apply organ-on-a-chip technology to better understand Crohn’s disease — an inflammatory bowel disease that can cause severe adnominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue and malnutrition. He and his research team will develop a Crohn’s disease-on-a-chip system to gain greater insight into what can cause and exacerbate the disease, with the goal of developing new treatments.

Founded in 1883, The University of Texas at Austin has grown from a single building, eight teachers, two departments and 221 students to a 350-acre main campus with 17 colleges and schools, about 24,000 faculty and staff, and more than 50,000 students. The mission of the university is to achieve excellence in the interrelated areas of undergraduate education, graduate education, research and public service.

With offices in New York City and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning its active grant-making in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $2 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. Helmsley’s Crohn’s Disease Program supports impactful ideas and mobilizes a global community committed to improving the lives of Crohn’s disease patients while pursuing a cure.

To model human health and disease, organ-on-a-chip technology mimics the human body’s organ structure, functionality and physiology in a controlled environment. These miniature systems, which serve as accurate models of various organs from the heart and lungs to the gut and the kidneys, can use a patient’s own cells to test drugs and understand disease processes to help determine the right treatment for the right patient.

“I am humbled by the generosity of the Helmsley Charitable Trust.” … “I am also excited by the opportunity to help find answers to the root cause of a disease where much more research is needed.” – Hyun Jung Kim, Assistant Professor, The University of Texas at Austin

“Crohn’s disease is an extraordinarily complicated disease to figure out.” … “We believe this research can lead to a new tool to help us address the complexity of this disease. This could lead to improved treatments or possibly even to reverse the progression of Crohn’s disease altogether.” – Declan Fleming, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Surgery and Perioperative Care, Dell Medical School

“There is a pressing need for more effective treatments for Crohn’s disease, and Helmsley is committed to finding more personalized options for patients,” … “This innovative ‘gut-on-a-chip’ technology has the potential to uncover triggers of Crohn’s disease, which will lead to improved therapies and ultimately better health outcomes.” – Garabet Yeretssian, Director, Crohn’s Disease Program, Helmsley.


  1. https://www.engr.utexas.edu/news/archive/8801-gut-on-a-chip-research-aims-to-find-personalized-treatment-for-crohn-s-disease
  2. https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/university-of-texas-at-austin#section-overview
  3. https://helmsleytrust.org

David is a consultant/medical writer for a number of ongoing healthcare initiatives including for Athla LLC/ HealthLabs, a discovery automation company for Big Data leveraging Big Compute. He has a number of years experience in academic R&D and healthcare related projects including the fields of oncology and immunotherapy.