Basic research

The main focus of gastroenterology research is in the mucosal immunology of how humans and other mammals co-exist with enormous numbers of microbes in the lower intestine. The microbes that we carry approximately the same number of microbes as the number of cells in our body, and collectively they have about 100-fold more genes than we do. These microbes normally do not cause disease in healthy people, but they are an essential part of our bodies, helping us digest food, providing vitamins, breaking down poisonous chemicals and protecting the intestinal lining from invasion of pathogenic bacteria, which do cause disease. Our research deals with the way in which the body adapts to accept these microbes in the intestine, and how the combination of microbes helps ensure health. Many conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), forms of arthritis, allergy, diabetes, liver disease and obesity are associated with alterations in the microbiota or defects in how our bodies adapt to their presence: our goal is to provide a fundamental understanding of these events to be able to provide new treatments for patients with these conditions.


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