Han Research Lab

The research in Xiaonan Han, PhD's laboratory is currently focused on the pathogenesis of chronic gastrointestinal injuries, and development of potential treatments for enteric infection and inflammation in the pediatric patients. His lab projects include: 

Current Projects

Stem cell therapy has recently achieved many successful cases in the personalized treatment of chronic and persistent mucosal inflammation; however, trans-differentiation of these stem cells into different cell types causes numerous problems. It was reported that intestinal epithelial stem cell-derived enteroids have a better potential in healing gastro-intestinal ulceration, but lack of fundamental mechanisms significantly blocks the development of intestinal stem cell treatment. Cytokine/JAK/STAT signaling is suggested to mediate intestinal stem cell homeostasis. In this project, we mainly focus on investigation of the role of JAK/STAT signaling in the adult stem cell responses to intestinal injury. Using a series of proof-of-concept studies with JAK-STAT mutant mice, mouse or human adult stem cells, we will, first, characterize the role of JAK-STAT signaling in adult stem cell differentiation; second, we will define the sufficiency of activation of JAK-STAT signaling for intestinal barrier differentiation.

We believe that our investigations will permit a collaborative team of basic scientists and clinical investigators to start a novel potential therapeutic avenue for restoring intestinal hemostasis. Our work will be beneficial to obtain molecular insights to fight diseases driven by intestinal infection or chronic inflammation with impact on cancer manifestation. This project is a collaborative study with the Intestinal Rehabilitation Research Program, Developmental Biology and Pediatric Surgery at Cincinnati Children's, and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Cancer Research (LBI-CR), Vienna, Austria.


Dysregulated organ barrier function is highly involved in the pathogenesis of chronic degenerative diseases, for instance, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). However, the mechanisms and regulation are poorly defined. We reported that a negative feed-back loop STAT5→NF-κB → MLCK) directly regulates intestinal barrier function and response to injury relevant to human IBD (see Figure, EMBO Molecular Medicine, 2012). In the subsequent investigations, we will test the requirement of epithelial STAT5 signaling during the treatments and repair of mucosal inflammation with stem cell growth factors, cytokines or natural plant compounds known to be beneficial or detrimental for GI tract repair. These studies will not only lead to increased scientific knowledge of mucosal innate immunity, but will also provide a novel therapeutic target for treatment of epithelial barrier dysfunction in IBD or colon cancer.

This project is a collaborative study with the IBD Center, Division of Allergy and Immunology, and Division of Biomedical Informatics, Intestinal Rehabilitation Research Program, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, University of Chicago and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Cancer Research in Vienna, Austria.


Collaboration with Core Facilities

Pluripotent Stem Cell and Organoid Core.
Integrative Morphology Core and Laser Capture Microdissection (LCM) Core.
Bioinformatics Core.

Contact Us

A photo of Xiaonan Han.

Xiaonan Han, PhD   
Assistant Professor
UC Department of Pediatrics

Mailing Address:
Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
3333 Burnet Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45229

Phone: 513-636-7592
Email: xiaonan.han@cchmc.org


Lab members

Shila Gilbert 

Dongsheng Zhang