Research Themes and Focus Groups

Research in the Center for Cell Signaling in Gastroenterology is organized around research themes and disease focus groups.

Research themes

These themes are organized to follow a classic cell signaling cascade from the plasma membrane to nuclear events:

  • Cellular networks. About 37% of our investigators are working to increase understanding of cellular networks. This includes the roles of extracellular vesicles, the human microbiome, cell trafficking and migration, and cell secretome.
  • Intracellular signaling. About 32% of our investigators are studying intracellular signaling cascades that occur inside the cell. This includes autophagy, receptors, ion channels, kinases, cytokines, growth factors, apoptosis and products of metabolism.
  • Genetics and epigenetics. About 31% of our investigators are studying genetics and epigenetics. This includes chromatin dynamics, microRNAs, and gene transcription, splicing and editing in human health and disease.

Disease focus groups

In addition to the research themes, faculty members in the Center for Cell Signaling in Gastroenterology are organized into three disease focus groups:

  • Dysmotility and metabolism. This group includes fecal incontinence, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis, obesity and functional gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Liver pathobiology. This group includes nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, polycystic liver disease, primary biliary cirrhosis, biliary cryptosporidiosis and alcohol-based liver disease.
  • Inflammation and cell transformation. This group includes Barrett esophagus, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, hepatocellular carcinoma, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease and cholangiocarcinoma.

While our emphasis is on supporting the research themes, the disease focus groups set the stage for translating basic science discoveries to human disease. Organizing center faculty members into disease focus groups with their own meeting forums provides opportunities for additional collaboration and synergy by promoting information exchange and the formation of collaborative alliances.

These relationships are especially beneficial to basic scientists, who need tissues from rare disease states and need the help of clinicians to identify potential patients. The clinicians, in turn, benefit from collaboration with basic scientists who can perform pilot studies of research ideas generated from patient care.