IBD Plexus Leadership Team

The IBD Plexus® Leadership Team is accountable for ensuring that IBD Plexus is built and carried out in accordance with its mission. The team will oversee the day-to-day conduct of IBD Plexus and will lead development and implementation of all policies and guidelines. They are responsible for the governance and quality of biosamples, data, and derived data. Additionally the team will consult and support the development of associated studies using the IBD Plexus infrastructure and monitor the use of distributed samples and data that are approved by the project selection committee.


Chief Scientist

James Lewis, MD, MSCE

Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology

University of Pennsylvania


James Lewis, MD, MSCE, is Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. He is also a Senior Scholar in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Chief of Gastroenterology at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Associate Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program, and Director of the NIH-funded T32 Training Grant in GI Epidemiology. He serves as the director of the Human Research Core of Penn’s Center for Nutrition Science and Medicine and co-director of the P30-funded Biomedical Data Science Core in the Center for Molecular Studies of Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease.


For more than 25 years, Dr. Lewis has been actively involved in clinical research related to inflammatory bowel diseases and other gastrointestinal diseases with goal of improving patients’ outcomes by optimizing the use of medical therapies, diagnostic tests, and nutrition. His work has been funded by the NIH, AHRQ, PCORI, CDC and numerous foundations and corporate sponsors. He is currently the lead scientist for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s IBD Plexus Research Program.


Associate Chief Scientist, Translational Research


Brigid S. Boland, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine

University of California, San Diego


Brigid S. Boland, MD, is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of California, San Diego. She is the Director of Translational Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research at UCSD. She is the Director of the UCSD IBD Biorepository and is the co-Director of the P30-funded Translational Core for the San Diego Digestive Diseases Research Center.


She is actively involved in translational research aiming to better underlying the pathophysiology of inflammatory bowel diseases and develop biomarkers to predict response to therapy. She is the Principal Investigator on multiple industry-sponsored clinical trials. She has been funded by a CCF Career Development Award and NIH K23. She is the principal investigator on multiple industry grants. She is funded by a CCF award and Helmsley Charitable Trust grant.


Associate Chief Scientist, Translational Bioinformatics

Curtis Huttenhower, PhD 

Professor of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


Dr. Curtis Huttenhower is a Professor of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics in the Departments of Biostatistics and Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where he co-directs the Harvard Chan Microbiome in Public Health Center. He is an Associate Member at the Broad Institute's Microbiome Program. His lab focuses on computational methods for functional analysis of microbial communities and molecular epidemiology of the human microbiome. This includes systems biology reconstructions integrating

metagenomic, metatranscriptomic, and other microbial community 'omics; the microbiome in diseases such as IBD; and its potential as a diagnostic tool and point of therapeutic intervention.


Associate Chief Scientist, Biomedical Informatics

Sean Mooney, PhD

Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education

University of Washington


Sean Mooney is the Chief Research Information Officer (CRIO) of UW Medicine, the Interim Director of the UW Institute for Medical Data Science, the Director of Informatics for the Institute of Translational Health Sciences, an Associate Director of the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center (NACC), and a Professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education

at the University of Washington.


As CRIO, he leads the growing Research Information Technology team that contributes to a number of national research networks the National Kidney Precision Medicine Project, the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center, the UW Clear Center and others. Some notable efforts include leading the team that developed the open source Leaf application for clinical data querying and extraction, managed a REDCap instance with >25k projects and >10k active users, managing the Fred Hutch Cancer Center and UW joint Clinical Trials Management System application, and enhancing the UW Medicine EDW with advanced analytics including NLP. Currently he is focusing on developing an Epic EHR Research team for supporting research in the EHR at UW Medicine and leading the newly founded UW Institute for Medical Data Science.


His research interests focus on data science applications in biomedicine, particularly in understanding the underlying molecular causes of inherited genetic diseases and cancer. Over his career he has been on the faculty at Indiana University, the University of Washington and the Buck Institute and has taught at Stanford University, UCSF, and the University of California Berkeley.  He is an expert in a wide range of STEM fields, having been trained in chemistry and computer science, and appointed at different times in his career as a faculty member in many areas including genetics, microbial biology, informatics, and gerontology. A prolific speaker, he has given more than 150 invited seminars throughout the world.


Chief Scientific Officer, Crohn's & Colitis Foundation

Caren Heller, MD, MBA


Dr. Caren Heller received her medical degree from Columbia University and a Masters of Business Administration from The University of Chicago. She has extensive professional experience within the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries and academic medical centers. As the Foundation's Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Heller is responsible for all mission-related activities, including research efforts and patient and provider support and education programs.


She previously worked for Weill Cornell Medical College, where she was Associate Dean of Intercampus and Industry Initiatives. In that role, Dr. Heller implemented plans to promote interdisciplinary collaborations between the medical school and Cornell University faculties, facilitated the development of an NIH-funded intercampus center, promoted collaborative research projects with industry partners, and managed the intercampus pilot grant program. Prior to Weill Cornell Medical College, she was at Athena Healthcare Consulting, working with industry and academic centers regarding new product opportunities, new drug development, and clinical and translational research. While there, she developed Models of Care, a health care information series that identified and described best practices in disease management.


In addition, Dr. Heller has experience in pharmaceutical drug development, including design and implementation of clinical development plans and involvement in new drug applications resulting in drug approvals. She has been published in more than 20 publications and is the recipient of the "Best Journal Article on Disease Management" honor.


Vice President, IBD Plexus, Crohn's & Colitis Foundation

Angela Dobes, MPH 


Angela Dobes, MPH, works for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. She is the vice president of IBD Plexus, a revolutionary data platform and biorepository that redefines how the IBD research community studies IBD to advance next-generation discoveries and game-changing therapies. Ms. Dobes also oversees all direct-to-patient research and engagement initiatives at the Foundation.


Ms. Dobes devotes much of her time to advancing patient-centered research and is passionate about ensuring research, care interventions and treatments are meaningful to patients. She is the co-chair of the Trust and Patient-Centeredness Working Group for the Agency for Healthcare

Research and Quality Clinical Decision Support Innovation Collaborative. In addition, her work has been funded through organizations such as the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.


She strives to elevate the important role patient registries and biorepositories play in the pursuit of high-value and high-quality research through volunteering on external committees and initiatives, including The National Academies of Science, Engineering & Medicine project titled, Data Capacity for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research: An Agenda for 2021 to 2030.


Prior to her experience at the Foundation, Ms. Dobes worked for clinical technology and pharmaceutical organizations, where she has led implementation of various technology solutions focused on business optimization and accelerating the delivery of new therapies to patients safely.


Scientific Advisory Committee

The Scientific Advisory Committee provides advice and guidance regarding policies and procedures, identification of needed resources and technology capabilities, and suggestions for future research directions.