Martin Boyer Professor of Medicine
Tissue Engineering and Cell Models Core Director
Dr. Eugene Chang is a basic and translational investigator with research interests in the study of host-microbial interactions, particularly as they relate to health, digestive diseases and other immune- and metabolic-related disorders. Most recently, Dr. Chang has applied advanced, cultivation-independent molecular approaches to the study of the structure and function of the enteric microbiome. These studies involve next-generation, high throughput DNA sequencing and gnotobiotic/germ-free mouse technologies. He is also conducting several human subject-based research projects to better understand the contributory role of the enteric microbiome in inflammatory bowel diseases, obesity, and insulin resistance. These investigations involve extensive multi-disciplinary collaborations with other investigators in the Biological Science Division and at Argonne National Laboratory. He is currently supported by several grants from the NIH Human Microbiome Project, a NIH R37 MERIT award, and two NIH training grants (T32 and T35). In addition to his DDRCC duties, Dr. Chang is the Associate Director of Academic Affairs and Training in the section of Gastroenterology.
Professor of Medicine and Pathology
DDRCC Co-Director and Integrated Translational Core Director
Dr. Bana Jabri is a pediatric gastroenterologist and an expert in innate and mucosal immunity. She has followed a career interest in celiac disease, autoimmune disorders and inflammatory bowel disease. She is the 2009 recipient of the William K. Warren, Jr. Prize for Excellence in Celiac Disease Research. Dr. Jabri has extensive experience in human immunology, especially in designing and performing studies on human intestinal tissue samples. More recently, she has been developing mouse models that mimic key aspects of immune dysregulation found in patients with inflammatory intestinal disorders. Using human and mouse models, Dr. Jabri aims to identify key immune pathways involved in the initiation and development of autoimmune diseases and intestinal inflammatory disorders. Identification of such pathways will yield insights that lead to new, targeted therapeutic strategies.
In addition to co-directing the DDRCC, Dr. Jabri is responsible for the scientific direction, administration, and efficient usage of the facilities and resources of the Integrated Translational Core.
Bunning Food Allergy Professor and Professor of Pathology
Pilot and Feasibility and Enrichment Programs Director
Dr. Cathryn Nagler was Associate Professor of Pediatrics (Immunology) at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School prior to joining the University of Chicago in 2009 as the first recipient of the new Bunning Professorship. She has served on numerous expert review panels for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, the NIDDK, and the NIAID, including the Food Allergy Expert Panel. Dr. Nagler has been actively involved in the American Association of Immunologists as Section Editor for the Journal of Immunology, Program Committee member, instructor (Mucosal Immunology) for the AAI’s Introduction to Immunology course, and, most recently, Co-Chair of the Clinical Immunology Committee. Dr. Nagler’s research has focused on the mechanisms regulating non-responsiveness to dietary antigens and the commensal microbiota and the consequences of their dysregulation in food allergy and inflammatory bowel disease. Ongoing work in Dr. Nagler’s laboratory examines how environmental stimuli including diet, antibiotics, pathogenic bacteria, and intestinal worms alter the gut micro-environment to influence susceptibility to food allergy. Insight into the molecular basis for these interactions may suggest new avenues for disease prevention and/or treatment.
Dr. Nagler has joined the University of Chicago Digestive Disease Research Center as the Director of the Pilot Feasibility and Enrichment Program.
DDRCC Program Manager
Integrated Translational Research Core
Bana Jabri, M.D., Ph.D.
Integrated Translational Research Core Director
Joel Pekow, M.D.
Integrated Translational Research Core Co-Director
From both a clinical and basic research perspective, Dr. Pekow investigates the mechanisms of colon cancer development in patients with IBD. Patients with IBD are approximately six times more likely to develop colon cancer than the general public. In order to examine this phenomen, he utilizes novel molecular methods in order to develop new biomarkers to detect precancerous lesions in this population which could ultimately lead to the prevention of colon cancer in patients with IBD. Dr. Pekow will work with Dr. Jabri to run the Integrated Translational Research Core.
Tissue Engineering and Cell Models Core
Eugene B. Chang, M.D.
Martin Boyer Professor of Medicine
Tissue Engineering and Cell Models Core Director
John Alverdy, M.D.
Professor of Surgery
Tissue Engineering and Cell Models Core Co-Director
Dr. Alverdy’s research involves understanding how intestinal bacteria “sense” both systemic injury and local inflammation and “respond” accordingly using highly evolved bacterial information processing circuits such as the quorum sensing signaling system. This work is broadly generalizable to all intestinal inflammation and injury that occurs during systemic insults (i.e extreme physiologic stress, sepsis) and local injury (i.e following anastomotic reconstruction). His lab has special expertise in studying the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa as a cause of gut derived sepsis following injury and immunosuppression. As a senior gastrointestinal surgeon and professor in the Department of Surgery, his research brings a rich translational component to the DDRCC. His lab’s expertise with C. elegans models brings additional value to the cell models component of the TECM core.
Host Microbe Core
Alexander Chervonsky, M.D., Ph.D.
Host-Microbe Core Director
Dr. Alexander Chervonsky is doing basic research in the areas of intestinal microbial sampling and autoimmunity (Type 1 diabetes, T1D). Dr. Chervonsky was trained at the Jackson Laboratory as a mouse geneticist and has established the germ-free facility at the University of Chicago. He employs methods of gnotobiotic association of the germ-free mice to study the role of different microbes in generation of tolerance to pancreatic antigens in T1D. He also uses this approach to study the bacteria-induced transformation of intestinal epithelium in microbe-sampling cells. He is involved in many collaborative studies with other investigators at the University. His work is supported by grants from the NIH and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. In addition to his DDRCC duties, Dr. Chervonsky is Chair of Committee on Immunology.
Betty Theriault, DVM
Gnotobiotic Mouse Component Co-Director
Dionysios Antonopoulos, Ph.D.
Host-Microbe Core Co-Director
Phone: (630) 252-3925
Dr. Dionysios Antonopoulos is a microbiologist interested in studying the formation and development of microbial communities. His interest in understanding mammalian gastrointestinal function has been complemented by ongoing research in environmental systems (subsurface and topsoil systems). Although the scales are vastly different between the two, many of the approaches used in both GI and field research are steeped in classical ecological theory and serve to circumnavigate the complex nature of the microbial communities underlying system function. His group is actively involved in applying second-generation DNA sequencing technologies to describing both the structure and function of microbial communities in these systems and has taken advantage of the computational resources available at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL, http://www.igsb.org/services/hgac/) to handle the scale of data afforded by these technologies. His joint appointment between the University of Chicago (Dept of Medicine) and ANL, via the Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology, enables interactions between the clinical and next generation laboratory approaches (including shotgun metagenomics) to understanding the microbial world.
Tissue and Cell Analysis Core
Christopher Weber, M.D., Ph.D.
Tissue and Cell Analysis Core Director
Dr. Christopher Weber is a gastrointestinal pathologist with extensive knowledge and experience in the analysis of tissue specimens from humans and experimental animals. His research interest lay in studying the electrophysiology of tight junctions, which form a barrier in the intestine to flux ions and other molecules. This is being assessed in many ways including using high resolution approaches to study tight junction function at the level of a single intercellular space. Dr. Weber will work closely with Dr. Bindokas, an expert in cutting-edge imaging technologies, to lead and maximize resource utilization of the Tissue and Cell Analysis Core.
Vytautas Bindokas, Ph.D.
Tissue and Cell Analysis Co-Director
Confocal Microscopy Component
Dr. Vytautas Bindokas, Research Associate (Associate Professor) is a recognized international expert in imaging technology (including FRET) and calcium signaling, as well as high-resolution optical imaging of infarction, lymphocyte recruitment, and tissue damage in intact organs. Dr. Bindokas also serves as Technical Director of the University of Chicago Integrated Light Microscopy Core Facility. In this capacity he oversees the day-to-day operations of the core. He supervises a full-time staff of two highly trained microscopists who manage and maintain an array of microscopes valued at a total of over $2,000,000. Dr. Bindokas is also an expert in the use of advanced image analysis software, and a consultant to software developers.