SCORE Projects

Project 1

The role of brain-gut microbiome interactions in mediating IBS and constipation symptoms during menses and menopause

Overall Goal: To identify brain-gut microbiome (BGM) alterations in women with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and normal transit constipation. We specifically aim to evaluate BGM alterations in low estrogen states (i.e., late-luteal phase of menstrual cycle, post-menopause) and determine if these explain the increased symptom severity demonstrated during these states.


Project 2

Sex-related differences in structure, function and connectivity of central arousal and salience networks involving brainstem nuclei are involved in IBS symptom generation

Overall Goal: To identify sex-related differences in functional and structural aspects of dorsal brainstem regions and related neural networks of IBS subjects, determine their relationship to specific gut microbiome features, as well as clinical and physiological parameters. Sex-related changes in the brainstem microstructure and corresponding alterations in brain cortical networks have never been studied in IBS patients.


Project 3

Sex related differences in the effect of cognitive behavioral therapy on emotional arousal and salience circuits and the role of the gut microbiome

Overall Goal: To identify sex differences in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) responders, in the response of the emotional arousal and salience brain networks and in gut microbiome parameters, and to examine clinical characteristics that are associated with these responses. This study will be the first of its kind to directly study sex differences in BGM pathways in relationship to a clinically effective IBS treatment. It will provide unique data regarding mechanism of action for a centrally targeted IBS treatment.