Open/Close Menu Supporting Research at the University of Chicago Medicine Digestive Diseases Center

By: Anna Gomberg

Under the mentorship of David T. Rubin, MD, and with other researchers in the Rubin Lab, researcher Tina Rodriguez will pursue ongoing studies examining anxiety and depression and IBD through a grant from the GI Research Foundation, for the academic year, 2020-2021. The important research includes the validation of an original screening test for depression, and exploration of the role of active IBD symptoms in predicting anxiety and depression, and is a fine example of research at the core of the mission of the GI Research Foundation.

The connection between mental health, stress, lifestyle, behavior, and inflammatory bowel disease is well known, but not well understood. These factors, alone and in combination, can greatly influence quality of life for IBD patients. Patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis sometimes endure disease flares, which can be even more debilitating when combined with untreated depression or anxiety. As part of her work, Ms. Rodriguez will pursue longitudinal investigations making use of CAT-MH (or Computerized Adaptive Testing for Mental Health Disorders) for anxiety and depression, as well as looking at metabolism to examine the biological drivers of these conditions, and how they relate to IBD. The CAT-MH test is a validated mental health assessment survey that can be completed by a patient quickly online, and is commonly used for mental health screening by primary care doctors at the University of Chicago Medicine. This research will foster greater understanding of the relationship between anxiety, depression and IBD, and support a better quality of life for those living with these chronic illnesses.

Ms. Rodriguez is scientific researcher at the very beginning of her career, and plans to pursue medical school or additional scientific training following her term with the Rubin Lab. She says of the grant, “I am very grateful to the GI Research Foundation for this opportunity to continue the work I have started with the Rubin Lab, and to help deepen our understanding of mental health and IBD. Thank you so much, GIRF Board, for this opportunity.”

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