The research of Laura E. Raffals, M.D., is focused on understanding the role of bacteria in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Due to confounding factors for which it is difficult to control, including diet, medications and disease activity, it's challenging to associate changes in an individual's gut microbial community with a disease process such as IBD.
Dr. Raffals and her collaborators have proposed that pouchitis is the ideal human model to study how aberrations in the gastrointestinal microbiota may lead to the development of ulcerative colitis.
In a longitudinal manner, she is examining the evolution of histopathologic changes in the context of changes in the ileal pouch microbiota in patients with a history of ulcerative colitis undergoing total abdominal colectomy with ileal pouch anal anastomosis.
This offers the opportunity to advance the understanding of the evolution of inflammatory bowel disease in healthy, unaffected mucosa.
- Following the evolution of the microbiome in patients with a history of ulcerative colitis who have undergone colectomy with ileal pouch anal anastomosis
- Identifying changes in the microbiome that predict pouchitis and pouchitis refractory to antibiotic treatment
- Understanding the interaction of gastrointestinal dysmotility, barrier function, the microbiome and the local immune response in the pathogenesis of IBD
- Developing a biorepository of biological samples collected from well-phenotyped IBD patients
Significance to patient care
Dr. Raffals' work will hopefully advance the understanding of the role of microbes in IBD, which could lead to future development of novel treatments and preventive measures.