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Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition - Research



The Section includes many of the leading researchers in pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition in the country. Research in the Section bridges across basic sciences, translational medicine, and clinical research related to pediatric gastrointestinal and liver diseases. Ongoing laboratory research includes investigations of the roles of cell signaling, mitochondrial dysfunction, and oxidative stress in hepatocyte injury in the cholestatic and fatty liver; the role of innate immunity in parenteral-nutrition-associated liver injury; characterization of the pathogenesis of biliary atresia in a mouse model; the role of eosinophils in cellular injury and remodeling of the esophagous and intestines; vaccine development for diabetes prevention; and mechanisms of immunologic injury in a mouse model of celiac disease.

Clinical research includes clinical trials of new therapies for hepatitis B and C; evaluation of the genetics, epidemiology and outcomes of celiac disease; investigations of the etiology and development of new diagnostics and optimal therapies of eosinophilic esophagitis; development of new therapies for fibrotic and cholestatic liver diseases; studies of bone mineral metabolism in chronic liver disease; investigation of the etiology, pathogenesis, and outcomes of biliary atresia; a clinical trial of corticosteroids in biliary atresia; a study of the cause of and a clinical trial in acute liver failure in children; diagnosis and treatment of liver disease associated with cystic fibrosis; new treatments for inflammatory bowel disease; evaluation of outcomes of pediatric liver transplant recipients; and a longitudinal study of genetic causes of intrahepatic cholestatic liver diseases in childhood.

Faculty Research Interests

Dr. Natarajavelalar Balasubramaniyan’s major scientific interest include MicroRNAs, which are small non-coding RNA molecules that post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression by base-pairing to mRNAs. We would like to see miRNA function in nuclear receptors such as FXR and its co-factors during developmental stages and in Cholastasis. We also wanted to see the miRNA role in FXR target gene such as BSEP, MRP2, OSTαβ and NTCP. The verification of the existence some of these miRNAs and their interaction with target genes will be the key to find the function of all individual miRNAs during development, Cholastasis and other cellular processes in liver.

Dr. David Brumbaugh’s major scientific interest is the identification of prenatal and postnatal factors that influence the risk of development of obesity and metabolic disease in children. Specifically, Dr. Brumbaugh is examining the impact of maternal obesity on the development of offspring adipose stores.

Dr. Edwin de Zoeten’s major scientific interests include understanding how the immune system functions in the intestines; egigenetic regulation of immune cells; and defining novel treatments for inflammatory bowel diseases. Dr. de Zoeten also focuses on immunodeficiencies that affect the function of the intestines.

Dr. Sophie Fillon’s research seeks to understand the relationship between the microbiome and gastrointestinal eosinophils.

Dr. Glenn Furuta's research interests focus on determining the impact of eosinophils during gastrointestinal inflammatory disease including eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases (EGIDs) and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). The laboratory component determines eosinophils' impact on intestinal barrier function and remodeling. The translational component is identifying novel diagnostic modalities.

Dr. Edward Hoffenberg conducts clinical trials and quality improvement programs in inflammatory bowel disease, studies the epidemiology and clinical features of celiac disease, and conducts clinical studies on inherited polyposis syndromes.

Dr. Robert Kramer’s research interests include clinical trials in eosinophilic esophagitis, the roles of therapeutic and biliary endoscopy in children, clinical research in pediatric obesity, and outcomes of bariatric surgery in children.

Dr. Amethyst Kurbegov evaluates outcomes of gastrointestinal disorders.

Dr. Edwin Liu's major scientific interest focuses on the autoimmunity of celiac disease, current diagnostic testing for celiac disease, and genetic risk for celiac disease. Dr. Liu is an investigator in the Celiac Disease Committee for the TEDDY study (The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young), which investigates genetic risks and environmental triggers for islet and celiac autoimmunity.

Dr. Cara Mack investigates the cause of biliary atresia in both humans and in a mouse model. Her research is defining the immunologic pathways involved in the bile duct and liver injury of this disease and searching for targets of this aberrant immune response. In addition, she is investigating genetic influences on the susceptibility to biliary atresia.

Dr. Joanne Masterson’s scientific focus is determining the role of eosinophils in intestinal remodeling. Her work seeks to identify the mechanisms by which eosinophils influence epithelial cells and mesenchymal cells within the intestinal microenvironment as it relates to eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases and inflammatory bowel diseases. The overall goal of these studies is the identification of novel therapeutic targets and strategies to prevent, treat, and cure intestinal diseases.

Dr. Michael Narkewicz’s research interests include clinical studies in children with biliary atresia, clinical trials and transmission in chronic viral hepatitis, hematologic and immunologic complications following pediatric liver transplantation, improved diagnosis and treatment of cystic fibrosis-associated liver disease, and clinical trials in acute liver failure. Dr. Narkewicz is Chair of the Cystic Fibrosis Liver Disease Network.

Dr. Deborah Neigut’s primary interest is in education delivery.

Dr. Jason Soden’s major scientific interest is the management and outcomes of children with intestinal failure.  He is involved in a new national effort to better understand the cause of and improve therapies in parenteral nutrition-associated liver disease and other complications of short bowel syndrome.

Dr. Ronald Sokol's major scientific interests include treatment and prevention of complications of cholestatic liver diseases; human vitamin E deficiency states; oxidative mechanisms of liver injury in cholestasis, copper toxicity, and hepatic steatosis; regulation of mitochondrial dysfunction in hepatocellular necrosis and apoptosis; the use of antioxidants in human health and disease; and developing a severity of illness scoring system for acute liver failure. Dr. Sokol is the Chair of the Biliary Atresia Research Consortium and the Cholestatic Liver Disease Consortium.

Dr. Shikha Sundaram's research interests focus on triggers of pediatric non-alcoholic fatty liver disease development and progression and the long-term outcomes of pediatric liver transplant recipients.

Dr. Christine Waasdorp Hurtado’s academic interests include medical education and procedural training as well as the vertical transmission of Hepatitis C virus.