When Jo Andrea Napoli sent out e-mails and Facebook messages in efforts to raise money for research in Crohn’s disease, the first reaction people gave was off the charts. Some people have friends or family suffering from Crohn’s Disease, but most people are not familiar with this incurable autoimmune disease.

Ashok Kumar, a post-doctoral researcher at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), works in a lab currently applying for funding to investigate the underlying mechanisms of Crohn’s disease. “It’s like a lock and key mechanism. There is no effective treatment specific for this disease,” says Dr. Kumar. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like aspirin, are “non-target treatments,” meaning that they are not specific to the inflammation in the intestines and can affect the whole body, producing undesirable side effects. “Our goal is to identify a good target and find a drug to activate or inhibit that target.”