Uncovering novel therapeutic targets and identifying alternative practices to prevent or treat gastrointestinal diseases

The objective of the Gastrointestinal Stress Biology Laboratory is to gain a fundamental understanding of how stress, particularly early life stress, causes GI disease. The ultimate goal of our research is to uncover novel therapeutic targets and identify alternative practices to prevent or treat debilitating and economically devastating stress-related GI diseases.

Questions we are currently addressing in the GBS Laboratory:

  • How does early life stress/adversity influence the development of the ENS and immune system and what are the implications for lifelong GI disease susceptibility?
  • How are mast cells modulated by the stress response and how does this contribute to stress-related GI disorders?
  • Does Sex Matter? What role does biological sex play in mast cell biology and stress-related GI diseases?
  • How does stress influence GI nutrient transporter efficiency and nutrient utilization?
  • Can we mitigate the adverse impacts of stress on GI health in animals via new nutritional, therapeutic, or management strategies?

Taken together, our work has demonstrated that early weaning stress induces lasting, deleterious changes to intestinal epithelial barrier and immune function resulting in increased stress sensitivity and disease severity. Our current investigations are aimed at defining the precise mechanisms by which stress lead to alterations in intestinal barrier and immune function and testing strategies (management and nutritional) to prevent and(or) ameliorate stress-induced GI dysfunction.