Directors & Core Directors

Center Directors


Bernd Schnabl, MD
Dr. Bernd Schnabl, Professor of Medicine in the UCSD Division of Gastroenterology, serves as Co-Director of the Center. He is a nationally and internationally known physician-scientist with 20 years of experience studying liver diseases. He received basic science training in the field of chronic liver disease and fibrosis. Dr. Schnabl’s scientific focus is the interaction between the intestinal microbiota and liver. He has experience not only in basic and translational aspects of liver research, but he also participated in clinical trials in the past. He is serving as Principal Investigator on multiple grants. Dr. Schnabl received many awards and was recently elected as member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation. 

Lars Eckmann, MD
Dr. Lars Eckmann, Professor of Medicine in the UCSD Division of Gastroenterology with more than 25 years of experience in microbial pathogenesis and mucosal immunology, serves as the other Co-Director of the Center. He has a long-standing research interest in the pathogenesis and treatment of intestinal infections, mucosal immunology, epithelial cell biology, and regulation of inflammatory responses in the intestinal tract. He has been the Director of the UCSD Digestive Diseases Research Development Center (“Mini-Center”), which has coordinated and promoted digestive diseases research in San Diego (2008-2014). He has also established the UCSD Gnotobiotic Animal Facility as its Scientific Director over the last several years. 


Core Directors


Rohit Loomba, MD
Dr. Rohit Loomba, Professor of Medicine in the UCSD Division of Gastroenterology, has experience in running a human biorepository and serves as Director of the Human Translational Core. Dr. Loomba is a leading expert in translational research and innovative clinical trial design in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and NASH. He currently serves as the Director of the Standard of Care Committee of the NIDDK-sponsored Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis Clinical Research Network (NASH CRN), and is also a standing member of its steering committee, and genetics sub-committee. Dr. Loomba is the adult site PI of the NASH CRN at UCSD. He is the founding director of the UCSD NAFLD Translational Research Unit where his team is conducting cutting edge research in all aspects of NAFLD including non-invasive biomarkers, genetics, epidemiology, clinical trial design, imaging end-points, and integrated OMICs using microbiomics, metabolomics and lipidomics. 

Peter Ernst, DVM, PhD
Dr. Peter Ernst, Professor in the UCSD Department of Pathology, is trained in veterinary medicine and serves as Director of the Preclinical Models Core. He has been a Core Director for over ten years in two Silvio Conte Centers at other academic institutions. Further, Dr. Ernst is Co-Director of the UC Veterinary Sciences Center, which is a program in research, education and veterinary services run jointly with the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis. Dr. Ernst serves as the Head of the Division of Comparative Pathology and Medicine and the Director of the Center for Veterinary Sciences and Comparative Medicine which are the administrative entities to tie together the veterinary training and service activities on the UCSD campus. His scientific focus is in mucosal immunology and the immunobiology of gastroenteric infections including immune-epithelial cell interactions. 

Rob Knight, PhD
Dr. Rob Knight, Professor of Pediatrics and Computer Science and Engineering, serves as the Director of the Microbiomics and Functional Genomics Core with a focus on microbiomics. He is the founding Director of the UCSD Center for Microbiome Innovation and co-founder of the Earth Microbiome Project and the American Gut Project. Dr. Knight is a pioneer in the field of microbiomics, having produced many of the software tools and laboratory techniques that enabled high-throughput microbiome science, including the QIIME pipeline (cited over 10,000 times) and UniFrac (cited over 5000 times). His work has linked microbes to a range of health conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and obesity, has enhanced understanding of microbes in diverse environments, and made high-throughput sequencing techniques accessible to thousands of researchers around the world.