A photo of Lee A. Denson.

Lee A. Denson, MD

  • Director, Schubert-Martin Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center
  • Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics



I am a gastroenterologist who specializes in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) clinical care and research. In addition to serving as director of the Schubert-Martin Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Cincinnati Children’s, I hold the M. Susan Moyer Chair in pediatric inflammatory bowel diseases.

My research interests include the pathogenesis and treatment of IBD, with a focus on microbial targeted therapies. Our lab aims to improve healing and length of remission for patients with IBD — and ultimately provide a cure.

For example, using both murine and patient-based approaches, we’re working to define mechanisms that link neutralizing GM-CSF autoantibodies to neutrophil dysfunction and more severe small bowel Crohn’s disease. Our goal is to develop diagnostic biomarkers that may lead to novel targeted treatments.

We’ve also sought to determine the molecular basis for alterations in growth hormone signaling in IBD. Normal growth and development are dependent upon the ability of growth hormone to regulate IGF-1 expression. Evidence from studies in children with IBD, and mouse models of colitis, indicates that inflammatory cytokines, which are up regulated in this setting, may cause an acquired resistance to growth hormone. Consequences may include growth failure, altered body composition and impaired mucosal healing.

We’ve used complementary experimental and patient-based approaches to investigate regulation of growth hormone signaling in mouse models of colitis and in children with Crohn's disease. This includes down-regulation of the growth hormone receptor and up-regulation of a family of post-receptor inhibitory proteins, the Suppressors of Cytokine Signaling (SOCS). These studies should lead to the development of more effective therapies for children with IBD and other chronic inflammatory conditions.

I’ve received numerous awards and appointments throughout my career. These include the Sherman Prize and a Cincinnati Children’s Faculty Mentor Award.


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Antibodies-to-infliximab accelerate clearance while dose intensification reverses immunogenicity and recaptures clinical response in paediatric Crohn's disease. Colman, RJ; Xiong, Y; Mizuno, T; Hyams, JS; Noe, JD; Boyle, B; D’Haens, GR; van Limbergen, J; Chun, K; Yang, J; et al. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 2021.

Bile Acid Profiling Reveals Distinct Signatures in Undernourished Children with Environmental Enteric Dysfunction. Zhao, X; Setchell, KD R; Huang, R; Mallawaarachchi, I; Ehsan, L; Dobrzykowski, E; Zhao, J; Syed, S; Ma, JZ; Iqbal, NT; et al. Journal of Nutrition. 2021; 151:3689-3700.

Predicting disease course in ulcerative colitis using stool proteins identified through an aptamer-based screen. Soomro, S; Venkateswaran, S; Vanarsa, K; Kharboutli, M; Nidhi, M; Susarla, R; Zhang, T; Sasidharan, P; Lee, KH; Rosh, J; et al. Nature Communications. 2021; 12.

Profiling non-coding RNA levels with clinical classifiers in pediatric Crohn's disease. Pelia, R; Venkateswaran, S; Matthews, JD; Haberman, Y; Cutler, DJ; Hyams, JS; Denson, LA; Kugathasan, S. BMC Medical Genomics. 2021; 14.

Elevated fecal calprotectin is linked to psychosocial complexity in pediatric functional abdominal pain disorders. Moorman, EL; Farrell, M; Santucci, N; Denson, L; Le, C; Cunningham, NR. BMC Research Notes. 2021; 14.

Association of Baseline Luminal Narrowing With Ileal Microbial Shifts and Gene Expression Programs and Subsequent Transmural Healing in Pediatric Crohn Disease. Ta, AD; Ollberding, NJ; Karns, R; Haberman, Y; Alazraki, AL; Hercules, D; Baldassano, R; Markowitz, J; Heyman, MB; Kim, S; et al. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. 2021; 27:1707-1718.

Decision making about anti-TNF therapy: A pilot trial of a shared decision-making intervention. Lipstein, EA; Brinkman, WB; Zhang, Y; Hommel, KA; Ittenbach, RF; Liu, C; Denson, LA. Patient Education and Counseling. 2021.

Application of mucosal functional genomics to childhood undernutrition and stunting: Insights into mechanisms and targeted interventions. Denson, LA. EBioMedicine. 2021; 71.

Stratification of risk of progression to colectomy in ulcerative colitis via measured and predicted gene expression. Mo, A; Nagpal, S; Gettler, K; Haritunians, T; Giri, M; Haberman, Y; Karns, R; Prince, J; Arafat, D; Hsu, NY; et al. American Journal of Human Genetics. 2021; 108:1765-1779.

Ileal Derived Organoids From Crohn's Disease Patients Show Unique Transcriptomic and Secretomic Signatures. Niklinska-Schirtz, BJ; Venkateswaran, S; Anbazhagan, M; Kolachala, VL; Prince, J; Dodd, A; Chinnadurai, R; Gibson, G; Denson, LA; Cutler, DJ; et al. CMGH Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2021; 12:1267-1280.

From the Blog

Our 2019 Research Annual Report
Genomics and Development

Our 2019 Research Annual Report

Lee A. Denson, MD, John Hogenesch, PhD ...2/4/2020

A Promising Early Research Study for IBD Treatment
BlogRare and Complex Conditions

A Promising Early Research Study for IBD Treatment

By Lee A. Denson, MD4/28/2016

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