A photo of Lee A. Denson.

Director, Schubert-Martin Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center

Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics


Board Certified

My Biography & Research


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.

Clinical Interests

Inflammatory bowel disease; growth failure; celiac disease

Academic Affiliation

Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

Clinical Divisions

Gastroenterology GI, Colorectal Disorders, Inflammatory Bowel Disease IBD, Autoimmune Liver Disease

Research Divisions


Blog Posts

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

My Education

MD: Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, VA, 1993.

Residency: Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven, CT, 1993-96.

Certification: Pediatrics, 1996 and 2002.

Fellowship: Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, 1996-99.

My Publications

Serum Matrix Metalloproteinase 7 Is a Diagnostic Biomarker of Biliary Injury and Fibrosis in Pediatric Autoimmune Liver Disease. Lam, S; Singh, R; Dillman, JR; Trout, AT; Serai, SD; Sharma, D; Sheridan, R; Su, W; Fei, L; Karns, R; et al. Hepatology Communications. 2020; 4:1680-1693.

Microbiota-derived metabolite promotes HDAC3 activity in the gut. Wu, S; Hashimoto-Hill, S; Woo, V; Eshleman, EM; Whitt, J; Engleman, L; Karns, R; Denson, LA; Haslam, DB; Alenghat, T. Nature. 2020; 586:108-112.

A Micro-longitudinal Approach to Measuring Medication Adherence in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Plevinsky, JM; Denson, LA; Hellmann, J; Minar, P; Rosen, MJ; Hommel, KA. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 2020; 71:366-370.

Analysis of Using the Total White Blood Cell Count to Define Severe New-onset Ulcerative Colitis in Children. Mack, DR; Saul, B; Boyle, B; Griffiths, A; Sauer, C; Markowitz, J; LeLeiko, N; Keljo, D; Rosh, JR; Baker, SS; et al. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 2020; 71:354-360.

Drug induced pancreatitis is the leading known cause of first attack acute pancreatitis in children. Abu-El-Haija, M; Hornung, L; Lin, TK; Nathan, JD; Thompson, T; Vitale, DS; Nasr, A; Husain, SZ; Denson, L. Pancreatology : official journal of the International Association of Pancreatology (IAP) ... [et al.]. 2020; 20:1103-1108.

Microbial shifts and shorter time to bowel resection surgery associated with c. difficile in pediatric Crohn's disease. Hellmann, J; Andersen, H; Fei, L; Linn, A; Bezold, R; Lake, K; Jackson, K; Meyer, D; Dirksing, K; Bonkowski, E; et al. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. 2020; 26:1212-1221.

Recommendations for Successful Transition of Adolescents With Inflammatory Bowel Diseases to Adult Care. Shapiro, JM; El-Serag, HB; Gandle, C; Peacock, C; Denson, LA; Fishman, LN; Hernaez, R; Hou, JK. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2020; 18:276-289.e2.

Mitochondrial Networks: A New Therapeutic Target in Colitis. Denson, LA. CMGH Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2020; 10:426-427.

Neutrophil GM-CSF signaling in inflammatory bowel disease patients is influenced by non-coding genetic variants. Venkateswaran, S; Denson, LA; Jurickova, I; Dodd, A; Zwick, ME; Cutler, DJ; Kugathasan, S; Okou, DT. Scientific Reports. 2019; 9.

Study of Environmental Enteropathy and Malnutrition (SEEM) in Pakistan: protocols for biopsy based biomarker discovery and validation. Iqbal, NT; Syed, S; Sadiq, K; Khan, MN; Iqbal, J; Ma, JZ; Umrani, F; Ahmed, S; Maier, EA; Denson, LA; et al. BMC Pediatrics. 2019; 19.