A photo of Michael Helmrath.

Michael A. Helmrath, MD

  • Director, Center for Stem Cell & Organoid Medicine (CuSTOM)
  • Director, 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).

BA: Miami University, Oxford, OH, 1987.

MD: University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, 1993.

MS: University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, 1989.

Certification: Board-certified General Surgery; board-certified, Pediatric Surgery.

Services and Specialties

Surgery - General and Thoracic, Intestinal Disorders, Surgical Weight Loss

Research Areas

General and Thoracic Surgery

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In vivo development of immune tissue in human intestinal organoids transplanted into humanized mice. Bouffi, C; Wikenheiser-Brokamp, KA; Chaturvedi, P; Sundaram, N; Goddard, GR; Wunderlich, M; Brown, NE; Staab, JF; Latanich, R; Zachos, NC; et al. Nature Biotechnology. 2023.

Thoracoscopy versus thoracotomy for esophageal atresia and tracheoesophageal fistula: Outcomes from the Midwest Pediatric Surgery Consortium. Marquart, JP; Bowder, AN; Bence, CM; St. Peter, SD; Gadepalli, SK; Sato, TT; Szabo, A; Minneci, PC; Hirschl, RB; Rymeski, BA; et al. Journal of Pediatric Surgery. 2023; 58:27-33.

Ontogeny and function of the circadian clock in intestinal organoids. Rosselot, AE; Park, M; Kim, M; Matsu-Ura, T; Wu, G; Flores, DE; Subramanian, KR; Lee, S; Sundaram, N; Broda, TR; et al. EMBO Journal. 2022; 41.

Sonic Hedgehog acts as a macrophage chemoattractant during regeneration of the gastric epithelium. Chakrabarti, J; Dua-Awereh, M; Schumacher, M; Engevik, A; Hawkins, J; Helmrath, MA; Zavros, Y. npj Regenerative Medicine. 2022; 7.

Evaluating the risk of peri-umbilical hernia after sutured or sutureless gastroschisis closure. Fraser, JA; Deans, KJ; Fallat, ME; Helmrath, M; Kabre, R; Leys, CM; Markel, TA; Dillon, PA; Downard, C; Wright, TN; et al. Journal of Pediatric Surgery. 2022; 57:786-791.

Marijuana, e-cigarette, and tobacco product use in young adults who underwent pediatric bariatric surgery. Zeller, MH; Strong, H; Reiter-Purtill, J; Jenkins, TM; Mitchell, JE; Michalsky, MP; Helmrath, MA. Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases. 2022.

Fetal Risk Stratification and Outcomes in Children with Prenatally Diagnosed Lung Malformations: Results from a Multi-Institutional Research Collaborative. Kunisaki, SM; Saito, JM; Fallat, ME; Peter, SD S; Lal, DR; Karmakar, M; Deans, KJ; Gadepalli, SK; Hirschl, RB; Minneci, PC; et al. Annals of Surgery. 2022; 276:e622-e630.

Psychosocial predictors of problematic eating in young adults who underwent adolescent bariatric surgery. Decker, KM; Reiter-Purtill, J; Bejarano, CM; Goldschmidt, AB; Mitchell, JE; Jenkins, TM; Helmrath, M; Inge, TH; Michalsky, MP; Zeller, MH. Obesity Science and Practice. 2022; 8:545-555.

Aggregation of cryopreserved mid-hindgut endoderm for more reliable and reproducible hPSC-derived small intestinal organoid generation. Pitstick, AL; Poling, HM; Sundaram, N; Lewis, PL; Kechele, DO; Sanchez, JG; Scott, MA; Broda, TR; Helmrath, MA; Wells, JM; et al. Stem Cell Reports. 2022; 17:1889-1902.

Toll-like Receptor 9 Pathway Mediates Schlafen+-MDSC Polarization During Helicobacter-induced Gastric Metaplasias. Ding, L; Chakrabarti, J; Sheriff, S; Li, Q; Thi Hong, HN; Sontz, RA; Mendoza, ZE; Schreibeis, A; Helmrath, MA; Zavros, Y; et al. Gastroenterology. 2022; 163:411-425.e4.

From the Blog

A New First: Creating Organoids with Immune Systems

A New First: Creating Organoids with Immune Systems

Michael A. Helmrath, MD1/26/2023

Scientists Add Nerves to Intestinal Organoids

Scientists Add Nerves to Intestinal Organoids

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

Overcoming Natures Complexity to Help Patients with Intestinal Disease
Blog Research and Discoveries

Overcoming Nature’s Complexity to Help Patients with Intestinal Disease

By Michael Helmrath, MD10/20/2014

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