Gastroenterology Hepatology & Nutrition
in the department of Pediatrics


gastro imagesResearch in the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition includes both basic science and clinical investigation and involves multiple and diverse disciplines. These research disciplines include molecular and developmental biology, virology, microbiology, immunology and childhood development. The overriding goal is to advance knowledge that will ultimately impact the care of children with gastrointestinal diseases or nutritional deficiency.


The specialized epithelial cells of the gastrointestinal tract are responsible for the digestion and absorption of nutrients essential for growth. Research in the division is aimed at investigating the basic biology of gut development and regulation of digestive function. In the laboratory of Dr. Eric Sibley, this research is focused on defining the mechanisms regulating expression of intestine-specific genes, including the gene associated with lactose intolerance. More

The gastrointestinal tract is host to both commensal and pathogenic microbial organisms. From a global perspective, viruses that attack the intestine and cause diarrhea are life-threatening to infants and children in many developing countries. Research in the division focuses on investigation of enteric viruses associated with diarrheal illness with the goal of designing antiviral vaccines. In collaboration with the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, the division is involved in clinical studies investigating the therapeutic role of antibiotics in distinct inflammatory conditions of unknown etiology in the liver and biliary tract. More

Research in the division also includes projects investigating fatty liver disease and obesity in pediatric patients, intestinal bacterial overgrowth in chronically acid-suppressed patients with cystic fibrosis, and targeted gene transfer to intestinal stem cells. More

Hepatology/Intestinal Transplantation

Acute and chronic diseases of the liver may result in life-threatening illness in children requiring liver transplantation. In collaboration with the Transplant Surgery division, pediatric hepatology research investigates new medical and surgical approaches to liver and small bowel transplantation and new therapies for suppressing transplant rejection. In search of alternatives to transplant surgery, researchers are also exploring the potential of stem cells to regrow the lining of the small intestine as well as the causes of biliary atresia and sclerosing cholangitis, related diseases that account for half of all liver transplants. Lastly, through the Partnerships Empowering Parents and Professionals (PEPP) program, the division is studying the efficacy of parent-professional training in improving the health-care experience of families with chronically ill children.


The division is involved in clinical studies of nutritional management for high-risk infants and children. In addition, the division has participated in the development of a nutrition education project for instructing medical students. The goals of this project are to design, develop, implement and evaluate a web-based nutrition curriculum that vertically integrates nutrition concepts and principles into both the preclinical and clinical curriculum.

Research Projects

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