The research of Greg M. Tiao, MD focuses on the molecular mechanism of biliary atresia, a devastating inflammatory cholangiopathy leading to obstruction of the biliary tree and, without treatment, death within two years of birth. It is the most common cause of pediatric end stage liver disease and remains the number one indication for pediatric liver transplantation in the United States.
In the murine model of biliary atresia, rhesus rotavirus (RRV) injected within the first three days of life resulted in cholangiocyte infection and biliary obstruction. Through an ongoing R01 funded project by the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Tiao and his research team generated and utilized a unique set of rotavirus strains containing single gene substitutions (rotavirus reassortants) to identify a particular gene of rotavirus which is involved in the pathogenesis of murine biliary atresia. This gene/protein has recently been shown to be involved in the activation of natural killer cells. Current research is focused on identifying the epitopes involved in disease pathogenesis. These novel findings might provide insight into understanding the cause of biliary atresia in infants.