PREDICT has a strong interdisciplinary and international team of researchers with common interests and complementary competencies in the IBD field, covering the key areas of PREDICT, including genetics, epigenetics, inflammation, metabolomics, gut microbiome, epidemiology, clinical data, biostatistics, data science, and bioinformatics. Below you can read more about the activities of the key PREDICT groups.
The Elmahdi Group: Infection, Immunity, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
The Elmahdi Group is exploring the role of infection in the development of IBD, as well as the long-term impact of infection and infectious outcomes for IBD patients. As part of the group’s work, we are investigating the role of COVID infection and vaccination in IBD patients using the Danish national patient registries. We are also exploring the role of high prevalence, chronic viral infections, including herpesviruses such as EBV and CMV, in the alteration of systemic and gut immunity. A major focus of the group is the use of cutting-edge phage immunoprecipitation sequencing techniques to screen IBD patient serum samples for previous viral exposure. This work is undertaken in collaboration with partners at Statens Serum Institute (SSI), leveraging Denmark’s unique repository of biological patient samples, stored in the Danish National Biobank.
Dr Elmahdi is an MD who holds a PhD in HIV epidemiology from Imperial College London. Since moving to Denmark in 2019, she has worked with Professor Tine Jess, first in the gastrointestinal disease epidemiology group at SSI then as part of the PREDICT epidemiology team. Dr Elmahdi’s work has focused on the impact of chronic viral infection in IBD, undertaking several population-based studies, and high-quality meta-analysis to explore the potential role of chronic infections such as HIV in altering gut immunity as well as investigating how immunosuppressive therapies, commonly prescribed in IBD, impact chronic infection outcomes, such as HPV, including the risk of benign condyloma as well as malignancies such as cervical cancer in these patients.
The Brusco De Freitas Group: Nutrition and inflammatory bowel disease
Diet appears as a strong candidate among the possible factors involved in the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), considering that some foods are associated with the maintenance of a healthy intestine and, in some way, participate in the regulation of intestinal inflammation through modulation of the microbiota. Various diets have been linked to non-communicable diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. In addition, some evidence shows that maternal nutrition can directly impact fetal development and the quality of the child's diet and susceptibility to disease, requiring greater understanding of the relationship between nutrition and the health-disease process.
The Brusco De Freitas Group, with the participation of important collaborators from PREDICT, the National Center of Excellence and other international institutions, has as its main objective to understand how diet influences the development and worsening of IBD, to improve the quality of life and to pave the way for a better Dietary guidance for a growing global group of people with chronic illnesses.
Assistant Professor, Dr. Maiara Brusco de Freitas, PhD, leads this group in collaboration with Professor Tine Jess, MD, DMSc, who is founder and head of the PREDICT, and experts in nutrition, epidemiology, gastroenterology and statistics. Dr. Freitas has a degree and a postgraduate degree in nutrition and has moved to Denmark to build up her own group in the PREDICT National Center of Excellence. She has experience in clinical nutrition and population studies related to nutritional status, working mainly in the areas of research related to inflammation, oxidative stress, bariatric surgery, cystic fibrosis, intestinal microbiota, anthropometry, and micronutrient deficiency, and consequently has several publications in scientific journals in specialized areas.
The Larsen Group: The NorDIBD Cohort
Clinical care of patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) has been the center of Dr. Larsen's clinical work and research. As a Medical Specialist in Gastroenterology, Dr. Larsen works as Chief Physician at Aalborg University Hospital, where she is part of an IBD team caring for around 3,000 IBD patients. With the establishment of the clinical database, GASTROBIO, during her PhD, with granular information on all IBD patients in the North Denmark Region, Dr. Larsen has improved patient care and at the same time, in close collaboration with Dr. Jess, collected data on more than 6,000 patients diagnosed with IBD from 1978 and onwards in this geographical, well-defined area. This cohort is the NorDIBD cohort - the North Denmark IBD cohort - possibly the largest of its kind worldwide.
As partner at PREDICT, Dr. Larsen is heading a large study collecting biological samples from all living IBD patients in the North Denmark Region, employing 20 medical students, 2 research nurses, 1 research secretary, and 2 PhD students. Dr. Larsen is also an Associate Professor at Aalborg University and teaches medical students as part of her clinical work.