Current Full Members

​Seema S. Aceves, MD, PhD
Professor, Departments of Pediatrics and Medicine,
Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Aceves conducts clinical and translational investigations on the impact and mechanisms of tissue remodeling in eosinophilic esophagitis, a disease of increasing worldwide prevalence. She uses primary human esophageal cells as in vitro model systems to understand the mechanisms of epithelial, fibroblast and smooth muscle changes in the disease.

Veeral Ajmera, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Division of Gastroenterology 
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Ajmera's research interest includes non-invasive assessment of disease severity in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. His primary focus is risk factors and biomarkers associated with the development and progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Janelle Ayres, PhD
Associate Professor, Helen McCloraine Developmental Chair
Institution: The Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Research Interests: Dr. Janelle Ayres has been exploring the complex multi-directional interactions that occur between different body functions and resident microbes in the intestinal tract and other organs. She is particularly focusing on metabolic dysregulation that occurs during intestinal infection and inflammation and how this can be manipulated to impact host defenses.

​Lars Bode, PhD
Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Divisions of Neonatology & Gastroenterology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Bode’s research is on Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMO) and comparative glycobiology that is relevant to the understanding of the differences between human and bovine milk. His studies have shown that HMO play an important role in the control of inflammation in the gut.

Brigid Boland, MD
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Boland is a translational researcher in the field of inflammatory bowel disease. She is developing methodologies for mechanism-of-action studies and early proof-of-concept trials in inflammatory bowel disease. With her clinical and basic science research experience, she is uniquely positioned to develop appropriately designed and powered translational studies to address both clinical and basic science questions in inflammatory bowel diseases.

David Brenner, MD
Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology. 
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Brenner’s laboratory investigates the molecular pathogenesis of liver fibrosis and new strategies for therapy, using a range of in vivo and in vitro models of hepatic fibrosis and collagen expression that are relevant to human liver disease.

​John Carethers, MD
Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology
Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences
Institution: UCSD
Research Interests: Dr. Carethers’s research focuses on the areas of DNA mismatch repair, familial colorectal cancer syndromes, colorectal cancer disparities, and early onset colorectal cancer. His laboratory group conducts translational studies that apply cutting-edge molecular techniques to human samples to answer questions that can improve care and outcome for those with colorectal cancer.

​John Chang, MD
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology
Institution: UCSD
Research Interests: Dr. Chang is investigating the control of helper T cell differentiation and its importance in regulating intestinal inflammation.

Hilde Cheroutre, PhD
Professor and Division Head, Developmental Immunology, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology; Adjunct Professor, Department of Medicine, UCSD
Institution: La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology

Research Interests: Dr. Cheroutre focuses on T cell development and selection, effector and memory T cell differentiation, and protective immunity versus immune regulation. She explores the functional repertoire of CD4+ T cells and their potential contributions in beneficial or pathogenic immune processes and inflammation at intestinal surfaces and systemic sites.

Hiutung Chu, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Chu investigates how polymorphisms in host genes such as ATGL16L1 and NOD2 promote inflammation through defects in sensing protective signals from the microbiome, defining a potentially critical gene-environment etiology for inflammatory bowel diseases.

Lars Eckmann, MD
Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology 
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Eckmann has a long-standing research interest in mucosal immunology, epithelial cell biology, regulation of inflammatory responses in the intestinal tract, and microbial pathogenesis. His laboratory has employed a range of animal and cell culture models to discover immune defenses, new therapeutics, and preventive strategies against clinically important mucosal microbes, including pathogenic bacteria (Salmonella, pathogenic Escherichia coli) and protozoan parasites (Giardia, Entamoeba histolytica, Trichomonas vaginalis).

​Peter B. Ernst, DVM, PhD
Professor, Department of Pathology. Co-Director, UC Veterinary Medical Center, Director, Center for Veterinary Sciences and Comparative Medicine, Head, Division of Comparative Pathology and Medicine
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Ernst is a mucosal immunologist who has studied immune/epithelial interactions in the digestive tract for over 30 years. In particular, he has investigated the mechanisms controlling host responses to gastroenteric bacteria including Helicobacter pylori and several food- and water-borne pathogens, and the functions of adenosine receptors in T cell differentiation and intestinal inflammation.

Ronald Evans, PhD
Professor, March of Dimes Chair in Molecular and Developmental Biology; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Institution: The Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Research Interests: Dr. Evans is known for establishing the first molecular blueprint of steroid receptors, the isolation of the first orphan receptors and proposing the existence of a supergene family of nuclear receptors. He has worked extensively on orphan ligand identification and linked nuclear receptors to the regulation of fatty acid, cholesterol, glucose and xenobiotic metabolism.

Ariel Feldstein, MD
Professor of Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Feldstein focuses on dissecting the biochemical pathways of cell death triggered by over-accumulation of fatty acids and other lipids in NAFLD and NASH. He is also interested in hepatocyte-adipocyte crosstalk, their role in metabolic syndrome and NASH, and identification of novel diagnostics for these conditions.

Gen-Sheng Feng, PhD
Professor, Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, and Molecular Biology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Feng’s research program aims at understanding the dynamic interplay between signaling pathways in different cell types in health and disease. His current focus is on elucidating the anti-oncogenic effects of classical oncoprotiens in liver cancer. Elucidating the previously unrecognized complexity in mechanisms of liver tumorigenesis will lead to a paradigm shift in understanding the initiation and development of liver cancer that is now a most deadly malignant disease worldwide.

Pradipta Ghosh, MD
Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Ghosh's laboratory studies the cell biology of signal transduction with a special emphasis on the identification and characterization of novel modulators of heterotrimeric G proteins. Over the years, her group has systematically pursued in depth the mechanism and biological implications of an intracellular heterotrimeric G protein system and revealed along the way how G protein signaling via guanine exchange modulator (GEM) is fundamentally distinct from the conventional G protein signaling from the cell surface by G protein-coupled receptors.

Jack Gilbert, PhD
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Gilbert’s research focuses on fundamental questions about our microbial interaction with built environments, including what factors influence their microbial communities and how microbes are transferred throughout these environments. His group is also interested in manipulating the microbial assemblages in the gut as a novel therapeutic for human disease.

Christopher K. Glass, MD, PhD
Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Professor of Medicine
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Glass’ primary interests are to understand the mechanisms by which sequence-specific transcription factors, co-activators and co-repressors regulate the development and function of macrophages.  A major direction of his laboratory has been to define the genome-wide locations and functions of these proteins through the use of assays that are based on massively parallel DNA sequencing.  The combination of these technologies with molecular, genetic, lipidomic and cell-based approaches is providing new insights into mechanisms that regulate macrophage gene expression and function that are relevant to inflammatory diseases that include diabetes, atherosclerosis and neurodegenerative diseases.

David Gonzalez, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology
School of Medicine and the Skaggs School of Pharmacy
Institution: UCSD

Research InterestsDr. Gonzalez’s research platform breaks the mold of traditional host-microbe research by utilizing innovative approaches in quantitative proteomics to rationalize further bench-top experimentation. Starting from a systems scale and narrowing to a single target approach.  Dr. Gonzalez’s lab is examining bacterial pathogenesis, host responses to infection, and the impact of the microbiome on health and disease.

Philip Gordts, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine
Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism
Glycobiology Research and Training Center
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Gordts conducts research on the biological functions of hepatic receptors and glycans such as heparan sulfate in metabolic disease. A major focus of the lab is on the regulation of hepcidin in hepatocytes. This peptide hormone plays a central role in controlling iron absorption in the intestine and iron storage in hepatocytes. The lab discovered that heparan sulfate and its co-receptor syndecan-1 are key components of hepcidin regulation, indicating that endogenous hepatic syndecan-1 serves as a template to support signaling complexes regulating hepcidin expression and iron metabolism. Current research goals are to examine the mechanism of syndecan-1 by which it drives basal and iron-inducible hepcidin expression in human hepatocytes and evaluate the efficacy of genetic and pharmacological syndecan-1 targeting to correct iron dyshomeostasis in iron-loading models of liver disease.

Samir Gupta, MD
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Samir Gupta’s research focuses on the prevention and screening of colorectal cancer and polyps. He has led randomized clinical trials as well as numerous observational studies of the clinical and molecular epidemiology of digestive system cancers and neoplasia, including colorectal, hepatocellular, and pancreatic cancer.

Phillipp Hartmann, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Hartmann is interested in the role of the intestinal microbiome in various liver diseases with a focus on pediatric nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). He aims to develop novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies that will help to design more personalized treatment approaches.

​Michael Karin, PhD
Distinguished Professor, Departments of Pharmacology and Pathology, Cancer Center
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Karin has spent his career investigating stress and inflammation signaling covering the entire gamut of research approaches from basic biochemistry through molecular cell biology to animal pathophysiology. Many of his recent and current studies have focused on epithelial proliferation and transformation in the colon and liver in response to chemical and inflammatory insults.

Randal Kaufman, PhD
Professor and Director, Degenerative Disease Research Program
Institution: Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

Research Interests: Dr. Kaufman’s laboratory investigates the mechanisms of protein folding under normal and stress conditions and its effects on cell death and inflammation, particularly in the liver, which is the major site of protein synthesis in the body.

Tatiana Kisseleva, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Surgery
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Kisseleva examines the cellular origin of cells contributing to fibrosis in the liver. In addition, she has been exploring the role of IL-17 signaling, and the effect of therapeutic inhibition of IL-17-producing Th17 in chronic liver diseases, NASH and hepatocellular carcinoma.

​Rob Knight, PhD
Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Computer Science & Engineering; 
Director, Center for Microbiome Innovation
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Knight is a leader in studies of mammalian microbiomes, including the gastrointestinal tract and liver. He developed software for interpreting and understanding the vast flood of DNA sequence data that comprises our comprehension of the human microbiome, for understanding how the human microbiome develops over the course of one’s lifetime, and for placing the human microbiome in the context of other microbial communities in the overall environment.

​Mitchell Kronenberg, PhD
President & Chief Scientific Officer, La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology; 
Professor of Biology and Dean for Immunology, UCSD
Institution: La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology

Research Interests: Dr. Kronenberg’s laboratory studies the functions of T cells in intestinal inflammation and defense including models of IBD. He has explored the T cell receptor (TCR) diversity of donor-derived T cells in the intestine of inflammation-prone SCID recipients by immunoscope (CDR3 length) analysis and sequencing of TCR beta chains.

Vipin Kumar, PhD
Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Kumar focuses on NKT cells and their immune regulatory role in inflammation. He initiated both preclinical and clinical studies related to understanding the role of different NKT cell subsets (type I NKT and type II NKT)-based innate and adaptive mechanisms involved in alcoholic steatohepatitis and NASH.

Jin Lee, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Lee’s research interest is to elucidate the cellular microenvironment that controls liver regeneration and hepatocellular carcinoma, especially how innate and adaptive immune cells target transformed or mutated cancerous hepatocytes. Specific questions of her studies are: 1) What type of immune cells have the most potent impact on suppressing liver cancer?; 2) Does a specific type of immune cell target abnormal proliferating cancer cells?; and if so, 3) what is the underlying mechanism that determines the interaction of immune and cancer cells in hepatocellular carcinoma?  The overall objective of Dr. Lee's research is to elucidate the underlying mechanism of cell-cell interaction in liver cancer, and to define new biomarkers of disease progression. 

Cristina Llorente, PhD
Assistant Adjunct Professor, Division of Gastroenterology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Llorente’s research focus is to disentangle the role of intestinal stem cells, their proliferation, and differentiation into various intestinal cells for the development of alcohol-induced liver illnesses. Alcohol-associated liver disease is an understudied disease. Although the importance of the microbiota and bacterial translocation are known for alcohol-related liver disease, the exact mechanism of how they contribute to disease is unknown. By using various intestinal epithelial cell-specific knockout mice, it was noted that ISC differentiation to goblet cells play an important role in the development of alcohol-induced liver disease through the regulation of the immune system.

Rohit Loomba, MD
Professor, Department of Medicine; Vice Chief and Director of Hepatology, 
Division of Gastroenterology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Loomba’s research focuses on all aspects of NAFLD including aging, epidemiology, genetic and environmental predisposition, natural history and treatment of NASH. He utilizes diverse epidemiologic and outcomes research methodologies to answer clinically relevant questions. Examples of the research conducted include patient-oriented clinical research based upon patients seen in NAFLD clinic, clinical trials, population-based cohort studies, twin studies and clinical decision making by utilizing meta-analytic approaches. He is also undertaking multi-omics approaches to tease out the genetic and environmental determinants of NAFLD and hepatic fibrosis.

​Omar Mesarwi, MD
Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine
Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests:  Dr. Mesarwi’s research interests and publications are in the fields of glucose dysregulation, lipid metabolism, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). His particular interest is the impact of hypoxia, as it occurs during obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), for the development of NAFLD and other metabolic derangements. He described the significance of hepatocyte HIF-1 in the progression of liver fibrosis in NAFLD.

Ravinder Mittal, MD
Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Mittal’s laboratory investigates the sensory and motor functions of the esophagus. These studies include basic research in cell culture and animal models, as well as investigations of motility in humans with varying degrees of upper gastrointestinal inflammation.

Marygorret Obonyo, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Obonyo’s research focuses on Helicobacter pylori infection with the goal of Identifying novel unique pathways and genes for therapeutic intervention.

D. Brent Polk, MD, AGAF
Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology and Executive Vice Chair for the Department of Pediatrics 
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Polk’s research interests are in regulation of the development of the intestine as it relates to injury, inflammation, regeneration and associated cancer – with an ultimate goal of identifying novel ways to better treat or possibly prevent childhood inflammatory bowel disease.

David Pride, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Pathology. Director of Molecular Microbiology, Associate Director of Microbiology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Pride’s laboratory has been pioneering work on the human virome in the oral cavity and intestine. He investigates how viral communities, particularly bacteriophages, alter human bacterial communities by either killing their bacterial hosts or providing them with potentially beneficial gene functions. He is deciphering the role of the vast viral communities in altering inflammation in gastrointestinal disease in humans.

​Manuela Raffatellu, MD
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Institution:  UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Raffatellu investigates the complex interplay between gut pathogens, mucosal immunity and inflammation, and the gut microbiota, with the long-term goal of discovering therapeutic targets for controlling infection. She has a long-standing interest in the host response to mucosal pathogens such as Salmonella.

Eyal Raz, MD
Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Inflammation
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Raz investigates the interaction of innate immunity with microbial agents. In particular, he studies the role of microbial products in the activation and inhibition of mucosal inflammation. He has characterized the immune profiles induced by Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands, such as LPS, lipopeptides or bacterial DNA at mucosal sites and analyzed the impact of these ligands on experimental colitis.

Jesus Rivera-Nieves, MD
Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Rivera-Nieves’ laboratory investigates pathogenic pathways in spontaneous, chronic mouse models (e.g. SAMP1/Yit, TNFΔARE) of Crohn’s-like ileitis that closely recapitulate the human disease. This work has been instrumental in developing novel concepts about leukocyte trafficking and the role of cytokines in the initiation and perpetuation of IBD.

​Bernd Schnabl, MD
Professor, Department of Medicine; Division of Gastroenterology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Trained as a physician scientist, Dr. Schnabl is particularly interested in translational approaches to better understand the mechanism of chronic liver disease. His laboratory pioneered work on characterizing the intestinal bacterial microbiome, fungal mycobiome and virome associated with non-alcoholic and alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Shailja Shah, MD
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine; Division of Gastroenterology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Shah’s primary clinical and research interest is in inflammation-associated carcinogenesis of the gastrointestinal tract, namely the colon and stomach, with a predominant focus on the latter. She is establishing a multidisciplinary research program that is anchored in defining non-genetic, genetic, and systems-level determinants of Helicobacter pylori treatment- and disease-related clinical outcomes among high-risk populations, including US Veterans and non-white racial/ethnic and immigrant groups. Dr. Shah is actively involved in research and public policy initiatives to promote gastric cancer prevention and early detection efforts, such as gastric cancer screening and preneoplasia surveillance, among high-risk populations. 

Aleem Siddiqui, PhD
Professor, Department of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: The research in Dr. Siddiqui’s laboratory is concerned with the pathogenesis of liver disease caused by infections with hepatitis viruses (HBV, HCV). In particular, he is interested in how infection alters cellular metabolism.

Siddharth Singh, MD
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Singh’s research interests are twofold: (a) population health management and value-based care in IBD, including comparative effectiveness research, guideline development and implementation and (b) identifying modifiable predictors of disease course and response to therapy in IBD.

Claude Sirlin, MD
Professor, Department of Radiology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Sirlin is investigating the use of non-invasive imaging for the diagnosis, characterization, and monitoring of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, other diffuse liver diseases, and liver cancer.

​Mamata Sivagnanam, MD
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Sivagnanam’s research program focuses on how mutations in Epithelial cellular adhesion molecule (EpCAM) lead to intestinal epithelial cell dysfunction and thus, clinical manifestations of congenital tufting enteropathy (CTE). Her studies have relevance, not only to this disease, but also to gain further understanding of epithelial homeostasis, intestinal failure and diarrheal diseases.

Nicholas J.G. Webster, PhD
Senior Research Career Scientist, Professor of Medicine
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Webster’s research goal is to understand the mechanisms of signal transduction and gene regulation in different developmental and disease contexts. His laboratory found that deletion of SRSF3 impairs splicing of selected RNA isoforms results in inhibition of hepatocyte maturation, impairment of lipid and glucose metabolism, and generation of endoplasmic reticulum stress.

Rena H. Yadlapati, MD
Associate Professor, Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Yadlapati’s research focus is to determine personalized care pathways for reflux associated laryngeal symptoms through patient-centered clinical trials and consensus development. One of her long-term objectives is to develop novel paradigms for diagnostic testing and healthcare delivery for esophageal conditions.

Amir Zarrinpar, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Zarrinpar investigates the role of diet and metabolism on the microbiota and inflammation. His laboratory has designed engineered bacteria to explore the functional role of the gut microbiota on host physiology, obesity, NAFLD and NASH.

Karsten Zengler, PhD
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Zengler’s research is investigating the interactions of microorganisms with their environment and host using experimental, computational and systems biology tools. His focus is on the role that the microbiome plays in health and disease by linking microbial activity in skin and gut to host immune responses.

Current Associate Members

Shujuan Chen, PhD
Assistant Professor, Pharmacology Department
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Chen’s research focus is on elucidating the role of NCoR1 in maintaining the healthy host-commensal interactions and barrier function, which might be associated with NCoR1-mediated regulation of colonic stem cell proliferation and differentiation. The results of these studies will provide a mechanistic understanding of the loss of NCoR1 repressive activity as a pathological factor in facilitating colitis.

Kathleen (Kit) Curtius, PhD
Assistant Professor, Division of Biomedical Informatics, Department of Medicine
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Curtius conducts research on developing stochastic models of evolutionary mechanisms that drive gastrointestinal carcinogenesis, calibrating models to population-scale data, and then predicting “windows of opportunity” when screening is particularly optimal. Her work requires the integration of different fields (e.g., screening guideline committees, clinicians, geneticists, molecular and computational biologists) that are primed for novel quantitative analyses beyond those currently employed in clinical practice and decisions.

Debanjan Dhar, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Dhar’s research interest is to conduct basic and applied research with a focus on liver diseases such as Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Dr. Dhar’s goal is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying NASH development and HCC initiation and devise new therapeutic strategies.

Dannielle Engle, PhD
Assistant Professor
Institution: The Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Research Interests: Dr. Engle’s research focuses on the links between aberrant glycosylation, pancreatitis, and pancreatic cancer to identify new targets for the early diagnosis and effective treatment of pancreatic disease. She created new model systems that accurately recapitulate the physiological aspects of human pancreatic disease. Dr. Engle discovered that the glycan CA19-9 is more than a correlative biomarker of pancreatic disease, but CA19-9  mediates the initiation and persistence of pancreatitis in mice. 

Hiroshi Kiyono, DDS, PhD
Adjunct Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Kiyono’s contributions for the understanding of the gut mucosal immune system has been in intestinal mucosa, epithelial, mesenchymal, and immune cells which form a multi-ecological system in concert with the gut microbiota to create and maintain homeostasis. While building on the foundation of Mucosal Immunology through basic research, his research team has also actively facilitated the development of oral and nasal vaccines which hold promise as next-generation vaccines.

Yun Sok Lee, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Lee’s lab studies the etiology of T2DM. Specifically, they hypothesize that obesity-induced low-grade chronic inflammation (metaflammation) is a major cause of the development of insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction. Previously they observed that obesity-induced adipose tissue hypoxia and increased adipocyte HIF-1alpha enhance liver steatosis, inflammation, and insulin resistance. Their current focus is on how adipose tissue inflammation affects liver changes (NASH).

Christian M. Metallo, PhD
Professor, Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory
Institution: The Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Research Interests: Dr. Metallo’s work focuses on mapping interconnected metabolic networks to uncover disease-causing pathways. Using tracer molecules and advanced mass spectroscopy techniques, his lab identifies how molecules are broken down and re-built, where metabolites end up in the body, and what regulates these processes. Taking this approach, he has made key discoveries about the metabolic pathways that drive cancer progression and macular disease—pathways, which can then be influenced through dietary manipulations or targeted therapies.

Tae Gyu Oh, PhD
Bioinformatic Scientist
Institution: The Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Research Interests: Dr. Oh’s research focus is on the use of advanced bioinformatic methods, including Machine-Learning-based diagnostic models, for understanding and diagnosing inflammation-associated metabolic diseases, liver fibrosis, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and liver cancer. He has established metagenomic analysis pipelines using non-invasive stool samples from liver cirrhosis patients and healthy liver cohorts for predicting different stages of fibrosis and cirrhosis. Current work investigates the protective role of nuclear hormone receptors such as FXR as potential treatment strategies for NASH, fibrosis and liver cancer. 

Jeffrey Schwimmer, MD
Professor of Pediatrics
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Schwimmer's research on NAFLD is focused on children and includes epidemiology, clinical phenotype, diagnosis (both histology and non-invasive measures), pathophysiology (genetics and microbiome), and treatment (clinical trials of nutrition and medications).

Niels Vande Casteele, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: Dr. Vande Casteele is a clinical pharmacologist in the field of chronic inflammatory diseases and drug development, therapeutic drug and immunogenicity monitoring of biologics, including bioanalytical method development, population pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and pharmacometrics, and disease-specific outcome measures and biomarkers. He has a strong interest in precision medicine and trial design for inflammatory bowel disease. 

Hiromi I. Wettersten, DVM, PhD, MPVM
Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology
Institution: UCSD

Research Interests: The research of Dr. Wettersten explores the role of integrins in inflammatory diseases of epithelial tissues. She discovered that a particular integrin, αvβ3, is increased in pancreatitis and other inflammatory conditions, and its neutralization with an antibody resulted in prolonged drug sensitivity and eradication of metastatic tumor cells in epithelial cancer models. Mechanistic studies suggest that the integrin effects are mediated by tumor associated macrophages, which are particularly enriched in tumors with positive expression of integrin αvβ3, a marker of epithelial-mesenchymal transition and cancer stem cells. Ongoing work is exploring whether αvβ3 in the pancreas epithelium is required for tissue recovery in acute pancreatitis and if genetic inhibition of αvβ3 signaling attenuates hyperactive acinar-to-ductal metaplasia and alters the immune microenvironment, including macrophage phenotypes, for attenuating chronic pancreatitis and preventing the transformation of ductal epithelial cells in the pancreas.