A photo of Michael Helmrath.

Michael A. Helmrath, MD

  • Director of Clinical Translation, Center for Stem Cell & Organoid Medicine (CuSTOM)
  • Director of Surgical Research
  • Director, Center for Bariatric Research and Innovation
  • Pediatric Surgeon
  • Professor, UC Department of Surgery



As a pediatric surgeon-scientist, I’m dedicated to helping patients with intestinal diseases and obesity. I always wanted to be a physician — caring for children and conducting research focused on strategies to improve the outcomes of those with intestinal failure.

My clinical interests are bariatric surgery and surgery to correct intestinal failure. I am the surgical director of the Intestinal Rehabilitation Program. My clinical work allows me to translate gastrointestinal conditions into the laboratory, where we are working to develop highly innovative approaches for treating intestinal diseases.

In my research lab, I’ve established a multidisciplinary team dedicated to translational, clinical and basic science research focused on intestinal diseases. We are characterizing intestinal stem cells during adaptation and are working to develop intestinal regenerative strategies.

I believe that understanding the biology of intestinal stem cells is key to unraveling the mechanisms involved during the disease process. In my lab, we’ve developed in vitro culture techniques to maintain and expand individual human intestinal stem cells derived from human tissue samples, pluripotent stem cells and surgical animal models.

I am the director of Surgical Research and the director of the Center for Bariatric Research and Innovation. In addition, I’m an associate director of the Center for Stem Cell & Organoid Medicine (CuSTOM). I am board certified in General Surgery and Pediatric Surgery. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides funding for our lab. I am also part of the Intestinal Stem Cell Consortium (ISCC).


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Disruption of Her2-Induced PD-L1 Inhibits Tumor Cell Immune Evasion in Patient-Derived Gastric Cancer Organoids. Chakrabarti, J; Koh, V; Steele, N; Hawkins, J; Ito, Y; Merchant, JL; Wang, J; Helmrath, MA; Ahmad, SA; So, JB Y; et al. Cancers. 2021; 13.

Thoracoscopic versus open lobectomy in infants with congenital lung malformations: A multi-institutional propensity score analysis. Weller, JH; Peter, SD S; Fallat, ME; Saito, JM; Burns, CR; Deans, KJ; Fraser, JD; Gadepalli, SK; Helmrath, MA; Hirschl, RB; et al. Journal of Pediatric Surgery. 2021; 56:2148-2156.

A BAFF/APRIL axis regulates obesogenic diet-driven weight gain. Chan, CC; Harley, IT W; Pfluger, PT; Trompette, A; Stankiewicz, TE; Allen, JL; Moreno-Fernandez, ME; Damen, MS M A; Oates, JR; Alarcon, PC; et al. Nature Communications. 2021; 12.

Quality Improvement Efforts Reduce Incidence of Surgical Necrotizing Enterocolitis and Related Deaths. Goddard, GR; McNelis, K; Poindexter, A; Jenkins, T; Wessel, J; Nathan, AT; Helmrath, MA; Poindexter, B. American Journal of Perinatology. 2021; 38:1386-1392.

Drivers of transcriptional variance in human intestinal epithelial organoids. Criss, ZK; Bhasin, N; Di Rienzi, SC; Rajan, A; Deans-Fielder, K; Swaminathan, G; Kamyabi, N; Zeng, XL; Doddapaneni, H; Menon, VK; et al. Physiological Genomics. 2021; 53:486-508.

Evaluating the Risk of Peri-Umbilical Hernia after Sutured or Sutureless Gastroschisis Closure. Fraser, JA; Fallat, ME; Helmrath, MA; Kabre, R; Leys, CM; Minneci, PC; Hirschl, RB; St Peter, SD; Fraser, JD. Journal of the American College of Surgeons. 2021; 233.

Hedgehog transcriptional effector GLI mediates mTOR-Induced PD-L1 expression in gastric cancer organoids. Koh, V; Chakrabarti, J; Torvund, M; Steele, N; Hawkins, JA; Ito, Y; Wang, J; Helmrath, MA; Merchant, JL; Ahmed, SA; et al. Cancer Letters. 2021; 518:59-71.

Body Composition of Infants with Congenital Gastroschisis. McNelis, K; Poindexter, A; Goddard, G; Riddle, S; Wessel, J; Helmrath, M. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 2021.

Study protocol: a prospective controlled clinical trial to assess surgical or medical treatment for paediatric type 2 diabetes (ST2OMP). Shah, AS; Helmrath, MA; Inge, TH; Xanthakos, SA; Kelsey, MM; Jenkins, T; Trout, AT; Browne, L; Nadeau, KJ. BMJ Open. 2021; 11.

Prospective quality of life outcomes in pediatric fecal incontinence following bowel management. Lim, II P; Cushing, CC; Jenkins, T; Troutt, M; Zeller, MH; Hossain, M; Rymeski, B; Helmrath, M; Frischer, JS. Journal of Pediatric Surgery. 2021; 56:1459-1464.

From the Blog

Scientists Add Nerves to Intestinal Organoids

Scientists Add Nerves to Intestinal Organoids

Michael A. Helmrath, MD, MS, James M. Wells, PhD6/30/2019

Overcoming Natures Complexity to Help Patients with Intestinal Disease
BlogResearch and Discoveries

Overcoming Nature’s Complexity to Help Patients with Intestinal Disease

By Michael Helmrath, MD10/20/2014

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