LITTLE ROCK, AR. (Nov. 12, 2019) – Children with rare inflammatory diseases that prevent them from eating many foods will have the backing of an NIH-funded research network on their side, as Arkansas Children’s Research Institute (ACRI) joins a $7.75 million clinical research project addressing eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases (EGIDs).

Dr. Robbie Pesek, an assistant professor of Allergy and Immunology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Medicine who practices at Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) and specializes in EGIDs, will serve as the site investigator of the Consortium of Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease Researchers (CEGIR), a network of 19 sites with expertise in the disorder. Pesek is also medical director of the Allergy and Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders Clinic at ACH, which has treated nearly 500 children from Arkansas and surrounding states with the disorders since opening in 2012.

“Because this is a rare disease, research that benefits these patients is challenging to orchestrate, and it’s the only way we can learn more about how to help them,” Pesek said. “Joining a network of this scope truly connects patients to each other and improves their care.”

Children will be able to participate in clinical trials that haven’t previously been available to them through the consortium. The grant will also focus on training the next generation of clinicians and researchers studying EGIDs. The consortium will collaborate closely with patient advocacy groups, including the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED), the Campaign Urging Research for Eosinophilic Disease (CURED), and the Eosinophilic Family Coalition (EFC), to address the clinical problems of most importance to patients and their families.

Eosinophilic disorders are chronic inflammatory disorders. These conditions are thought to be triggered by allergic hypersensitivity to certain foods and an over-accumulation in the gastrointestinal tract of white blood cells called eosinophils (part of the body’s immune system).

Eosinophilic disorders can cause a variety of gastrointestinal complaints, including reflux-like symptoms, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, tissue scarring, fibrosis, the formation of strictures, diarrhea, abdominal pain and failure to grow in childhood. When inflammation is in the esophagus, the condition is known as eosinophilic esophagitis. When it is in the stomach, the condition is called eosinophilic gastritis. When it is in the stomach and the esophagus and/or intestines, it is called eosinophilic gastroenteritis. When it is in the colon, it is known as eosinophilic colitis. With the previous grant, researchers studied inflammation in the esophagus, stomach and colon. The new grant will allow the researchers on these three conditions in addition to eosinophilic gastroenteritis.

Other participating sites include Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Rady Children’s Hospital, Lurie Children’s Hospital, Northwestern University, the National Institutes of Health, Tufts Medical Center, University of North Carolina, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Mayo Clinic, University of California, University of Colorado at Denver, University of Illinois, University of Pennsylvania, University of Utah and Bern University Switzerland.

About Arkansas Children’s

Arkansas Children's, Inc. is the only healthcare system in the state solely dedicated to caring for Arkansas' 710,000 children, giving the organization a unique ability to shape the landscape of pediatric care in Arkansas and transform the health of children throughout the region. The private, non-profit organization includes two pediatric hospitals, a pediatric research institute and USDA nutrition center, a philanthropic foundation, a nursery alliance, statewide clinics, and many education and outreach programs.

Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) is a 336-bed, Magnet-recognized facility in Little Rock operating the state’s only Level I pediatric trauma center; the state's only burn center; the state's only Level IV neonatal intensive care unit; the state's only pediatric intensive care unit; the state’s only pediatric surgery program with Level 1 verification from the American College of Surgeons; and the state's only nationally recognized pediatric transport program. Additionally, ACH is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report in five pediatric subspecialties (2019-2020): Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Nephrology, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Orthopedics and Pulmonology. Arkansas Children’s Northwest (ACNW), the first and only pediatric hospital in the Northwest Arkansas region, opened in Springdale in early 2018. ACNW operates a 24-bed inpatient unit; a surgical unit with five operating rooms; outpatient clinics offering over 20 subspecialties; diagnostic services; imaging capabilities; occupational therapy services; and Northwest Arkansas' only pediatric emergency department, equipped with 30 exam rooms. Generous philanthropic and volunteer engagement has sustained Arkansas Children's since it began as an orphanage in 1912, and today ensures the system can fundamentally transform the health of children in Arkansas and beyond. To learn more, visit

About UAMS

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state’s Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — cancer, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,727 students, 870 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.