Pediatric Crohn’s disease is a rare inflammatory bowel disease and has no cure. It can have severe symptoms, such as weight loss, fever, delayed growth, abdominal pain and rectal bleeding, leading to an increased mortality in children. Due to these harsh symptoms, researchers need to continue searching for a rapid treatment for Pediatric Crohn’s disease.
As a gastrointestinal investigator, my research has focused on the pathophysiology of intestinal epithelia and intestinal stem cells (ISC) in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), infectious gastrointestinal (GI) diseases and colon cancer. My lab reported that cytokine-Janus kinase (JAK)2-signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)5 pathway is the key signaling in the regulation of the ISC response to GI inflammation and infection, promoting intestinal epithelial barrier regeneration. The current research in my Lab is focused on how niche cells protect ISCs to improve the epithelial lineage repair during C. difficile infection (CDI) and is trying to address how the cytokine-JAKs-STAT5 pathway regulates the switch between the ISC niche induced by injuries in IBD and the metastatic niche during colon cancer. Apart from exploring the cellular and molecular basis of GI diseases, I am also interested in developing natural steroid herbs as a therapy for repairing the impaired intestinal barriers in IBD and colon cancer.
Some of the notable findings we’ve discovered include:
- Activation of STAT5 increases intestinal stem cell regeneration to fix the weakened epithelia
- Constitutively active STAT5 brings intestinal Paneth or colonic Paneth-like cell differentiation
- The JAK2-STAT5 pathway is essential for upholding the intestinal barrier’s role
Throughout my career, I’ve achieved multiple awards and recognitions including:
- The Young Investigator Award of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), 2007
- The Discover award from the Department of Defense (DOD), 2012
- The Elsevier award from the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), 2013
- The Senior award from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (CCF), 2016
I have more than 18 years of experience in gastroenterology and joined the team at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 2003. My laboratory research has been supported by NIH (R01DK123299 and R21AI103388) and was published in prestigious journals, such as the Gut, Gastroenterology, EMBO Molecular Medicine and Stem Cell Report.
Signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); gut barrier dysfunction in IBD; drug development in the therapy of IBD.
Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics