Dr Aysha Al-Ani receives the CCA Inflammatory Bowel Disease PhD Scholarship

Crohn’s and Colitis Australia (CCA) is delighted to announce that Dr Aysha Al-Ani has been awarded the CCA Inflammatory Bowel Disease PhD Scholarship for her project: “Novel Biomarkers in Inflammatory Bowel Disease”.

Headshot of Dr Aysha Al-Ani

Pictured: Dr Al-Ani is a gastroenterologist, Royal Melbourne Hospital and PhD candidate through the University of Melbourne.

Dr Al-Ani is a gastroenterologist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and is completing her PhD candidature through the Melbourne Medical School’s Department of Medicine.

Dr Al-Ani is a Consultant Gastroenterologist and Endoscopist, practising within the public and private health sectors. She completed basic physician training at the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) and undertook advanced gastroenterology training at the RMH, Launceston General Hospital and Eastern Health. Dr Al-Ani 's subspecialty interest is in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. She completed an IBD Fellowship at the RMH in 2020 under the supervision of Associate Professor Britt Christensen, gaining valuable research and clinical experience, most notably in IBD management in pregnancy and proficiency in intestinal ultrasound, a non-invasive tool with an evolving role in luminal gastroenterology. She combines clinical practice with academic research and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne.

The three-year, $75,000 scholarship is funded by an anonymous philanthropist who has generously supported CCA for this research.

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) encompass a group of chronic bowel conditions which manifest in ‘flares’ and ‘dormant’ periods. Whilst there is no cure, treatment usually involves immunosuppression medication to reduce relapses and maintain remission.

Despite an increasing number of medical therapies, only a third of patients respond positively to the currently available treatments. The remainder require hospitalisation, surgery, and experience a reduced quality of life.

More treatment options are desperately needed as well as research to understand the underlying causes of tissue damage and disease progression in IBD.

There has been a change in thinking, or paradigm-shift, about how to manage and treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The focus now lies on seeking ways to objectively measure and assess what is taking place in order to modify the disease and to select the best medical therapy.

To accurately predict how the disease will respond to treatment, to promote healing, reduce complications and resultant hospitalisations and surgeries, and to improve patient outcomes overall, it is important to find new and reliable biomarkers.

Dr Al-Ani’s PhD will explore the role of cell death in IBD through studies of similar phenomena in Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). She will investigate the role of key proteins in acute severe ulcerative colitis (ASUC) and their impact on disease outcome. She will use sonographic techniques to compare the impact of active inflammation on disease outcomes in the developing foetus and that of pregnant women with IBD.

Dr Aysha Al-Ani has received a number of awards in the course of her medical and research training including the GESA Celltrion Healthcare IBD Fellowship.‚Äč