A few months ago I was asked by the Mississippi-Louisiana CCFA Chapter if I would come present at their IBD patient education event down in Louisana about IBD Research. As a current graduate student pursuing a career in scientific research this was a great opportunity for me to switch from my patient advocacy work into a new type of patient education geared towards presenting IBD research in a way that patients/caregivers can understand. The event was fantastic! So I wanted to do a little recap of it.
There were quite a number of patients and caregivers in attendance at the conference and a good mix of pediatric and adult patients, and parents of children with IBD. It was split up into two sessions where one was the pediatric session and one the adult session and they differed mainly by speaker type. Pediatric GI physicians led the pediatric session, and in the adult session, there were two GI physicians and myself presenting. The physicians that presented were top notch, some of the best physician presentations I have seen when it comes to IBD. They talked about IBD as a whole when it came to disease types, symptoms, environmental factors and then treatments including current therapies, how and when they are used and safety. They were phenomenal presentations.
I was there speaking about IBD research, I talked about myself and my jouney with Crohn’s and how that has led me to where I am today. Research topics consisted of the CCFA’s new diet study, the gut microbiome and how it relates to IBD including probiotics, fecal transplant, and dysbiosis and a little about the lab work we are conducting back at Mississippi College. My mentor, Dr. Erin Norcross was also in attendence because without her my current thesis work as a graduate student would not be possible, she is the mastermind behind the project and she also prepped me for this event and wanted to support me as she supports all of my IBD advocacy efforts. The audience seemed to really be interested in research when it comes to IBD. As patients we get to see our physicians a lot and on a very personal basis, whereas when it comes to scientists who are active in the field of science or as we call it “benchwork” we do not get to see them as often. It was truly an honor to educate patients about current research and there were some great questions asked which shows the level of interest and understanding of the topics. It was the first event I spoke at where I was not just a patient or patient advocate but as a Graduate Student actively involved in research and this event to me was the perfect event to present at for the first time. I cant thank the CCFA enough for inviting, Dr. Norcross for prepping me and allowing me to work on an awesome project and for my lab mates for helping me as well. I am looking forward to shifting my work towards educating patients about current research, as it was very apparent they are interested in it and to show them the hard work being put into IBD research.