Ballinger-Swindells Endowed Scholar
Dr. Habtezion's current research addresses leukocyte recruitment and immune responses in diseases affecting the digestive organs. Dr. Habtezion obtained her medical degree from McMaster University, completed an Internal Medicine residency at the University of Western Ontario, a Gastroenterology Fellowship at the University of Toronto, and a post doctoral research fellowship at Stanford University. Her research is supported by foundation and National Institutes of Health grants.
The Habtezion lab aims to understand immune mechanisms and identify potential immune-based therapeutic targets for pancreatitis and inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers in the lab study leukocyte trafficking and immune responses pertaining to the intestinal tract in states of both health and disease.
The lab demonstrated a beneficial role and mechanism for heme-oxygenase 1 (HO-1) and its downstream effectors in acute pancreatitis. In chronic pancreatitis the lab characterized macrophage-pancreas stellate cell crosstalk that contributes to disease progression and fibrosis. The significance of this crosstalk is further demonstrated by targeting macrophage polarization and function, as well as altering disease course in established experimental disease. The lab is currently working to elucidate targetable immune pathways that alter and/or reverse the course of disease progression.
A second major project in the lab pertains to understanding immune responses in the intestine and in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Multiple projects on intestinal inflammation pertain to understanding the heterogeneity and immune profiles of IBD patients, host immune-microbiome interaction, immune-enteric nervous system interaction, as well as intestine-specific leukocyte recruitment and therapeutic targets using experimental models of inflammation.
Figure 1: Small intestine and colon homing of lymphocytes.
Citation for Fig. 1: Gastroenterology. 2016 Feb;150(2):340-54.
Figure 2: Schematic representation of macrophage and pancreatic stellate cell (PSC) interaction in chronic pancreatitis.
Citation for Fig. 2: Nat Commun. 2015 May;6:7158.