By Jennifer Iscol

24508310_sResearchers at Stanford University are conducting research to learn more about the genes associated with celiac disease. They are working to uncover more genes that create a disposition for celiac disease. The goal of the research is to learn more about this common disorder in order to advance treatment and prevention strategies, and to contribute to the understanding of related autoimmune conditions.

The research team is recruiting families with celiac disease in multiple generations to participate in the study. Arnold Han, MD, PhD, is a gastroenterologist and instructor at Stanford University School of Medicine, and a member of the research team.  Dr. Han said, “Most genetic studies on celiac disease compare the genes of people with and without celiac disease. If we start with family members who already have many genes in common, it helps narrow down the amount of genetic data that we need to sift through to find additional celiac genes.”


The research is lead by two eminent Stanford scientists. Mark M. Davis is the director of the Stanford Institute for Immunology, Transplantation and Infection, and a professor of microbiology and immunology. Stephen Quake is a professor of bioengineering at Stanford and an entrepreneur. They both serve as investigators for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which provided funding for the celiac disease study, in addition to funding by the Simons Foundation. Dr. Davis described his interest in studying celiac disease: “Aside from its clinical importance, celiac disease is very appealing to immunologists because of all autoimmune diseases, it is the only one whose trigger is known – dietary gluten.”

Celiac disease is an inherited condition that is the result of both a genetic predisposition and an environmental trigger. About a third of the U.S. population has one or both of the genes known to be associated with celiac disease (HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8), and about 5% of those with the genes will develop celiac disease. Knowing more about the genes that cause celiac disease will help elucidate a critical part of the puzzle in understanding it.

Volunteer for the study [Update 5/6/15: They have enough volunteers and are no longer recruiting, thanks to our amazing community.]