Celiac.com 05/02/2011 - David van Heel, gastrointestinal genetics professor at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, has shown the world the progress that's possible by researching celiac disease after he headed a group of researchers from around the world who studied the genetic maps of more than 9,400 celiacs. Van Heel's research will surely be followed by other studies, which may possible lead to improved ways of diagnosing and treating the autoimmune disease.

As an author, researcher, and gluten-free advocate, I have been raising awareness for celiac disease because I know that with increased awareness will come more research, better diagnoses, and better treatment. Illustrating this point is the fact that van Heel's studies on the genetic links to celiac disease are leading to more research which may lead to new and more effective ways to treat the disease, a prospect which should please celiacs around the globe.

Celiac disease is caused by an autoimmune reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, affecting approximately 1% of the population and 300 million Americans. The disease attacks the villi, the finger-shaped structures that line the small intestine, leading to stomach troubles and