Basic Research

Woman doing lab work

The GI Section has a long history of basic and clinical research in inflammatory bowel disease. Basic research programs are focusing on: the genetics of inflammatory bowel disease; epithelial cell biology (secretion and cytoprotection), vitamin D metabolism, colon carcinogenesis, mucosal immunology, and celiac disease.

Beginning with the potential genetic underpinnings GI investigators have identified the first genetic mutations predisposing to Crohn’s disease associated with defective signaling by NOD2 preventing activation of nuclear factor kappa B. Further efforts are underway to identify other genetic mutations and their influence on pathogenesis and genotypic phenotypic correlations within the NIH IBD Genetic Consortium housed at The University of Chicago. Dr. Eugene Chang is investigating the role of heat shock proteins in providing cytoprotection of the intestinal epithelium and how commensual bacteria or probiotics provide beneficial, anti-inflammatory properties. Dr. Marc Bissonnette is leading efforts at identifying carcinogenic sequences in animal and human colon cancer and is investigating chemopreventive properties of vitamin D analogues and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents. Dr. Bana Jabri studies the developmental and functional aspects of immune function in the mouse and human intestine involving a family of surface receptors called NKG2 and intestinal disease associated with such a dysregulation of the NKG2 system such as celiac disease. Close collaboration is maintained with Jerrold Turner from the Department of Pathology within the Digestive Disease Research Core Center regarding the immunopathophysiology of celiac disease and epithelial cell tight junctions in health and disease.

Since 1990, the GI Section has been the recipient of an NIH funded Digestive Diseases Research Core Center (DDRCC). The DDRCC, under the direction of Dr. Eugene Chang, includes over 70 investigators in the clinical and basic sciences departments in the Division of Biological Sciences whose goal is to encourage and facilitate research involving digestive disease related research. The DDRCC has three research core laboratories: molecular pathology, molecular biochemistry and cell biology. The DDRCC maintains 10,000 square feet of lab square, of which 7,500 square feet is dedicated as wet bench space.

For more information on individual faculty research interests please refer to the research preceptors portion of the fellowship training section of this website.