Gastroenterology / Mucosal Immunology
The main focus of gastroenterology research lies in the understanding of how humans and other mammals co-exist with enormous numbers of microbes in their lower intestine and how these microbes are involved in shaping our immune system (Macpherson, Ganal-Vonarburg, Gomez de Agüero). The microbes that we carry in or on our body outnumber our own cells by about 10-fold, and collectively they harbor 100-fold more genes than we do. These microbes normally do not cause disease in healthy people, but they are an essential part of our bodies, helping us to digest food, providing vitamins, breaking down poisonous chemicals and protecting the intestinal lining from invasion of pathogenic bacteria, which may cause disease.
Our research deals with the way in which the body adapts to accept these microbes in the intestine, and how the combination of microbes helps ensure health. Many conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), forms of arthritis, allergy, diabetes, liver disease and obesity are associated with alterations in the microbiota or defects in how our bodies adapt to their presence: our goal is to provide a fundamental understanding of these events to be able to provide new treatments for patients with these conditions (Wiest). More details can be obtained from our lab website.
We also have programs that investigate the motility of the intestines in health and disease, the genetic and immune predisposition to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (Macpherson, Juillerat) and in novel treatments for inflammatory bowel disease.
Please visit the external Group Website for more information.