How did you become interested in translational gastroenterology?
To study and discover the cellular and molecular networks of the human immune system and to understand key biologic processes that maintain the balance between the host response and the environment is simply fascinating.The gastrointestinal tract is the largest surface of the human body throug h which the immune system interacts with the surroundings, and is constantly challenged with environmental elements, including pathogenic and non-pathogenic microorganisms. Balanced immune responses are critical to maintain normal function of the intestine. Bringing together, the study of cellular and molecular human immunology with the development of innovative therapeutic approaches for the treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions such as IBD I find a great challenge and extremely motivating.
What are you currently working on and what importance does your work hold for current patients with gastrointestinal issues?
My current work is focused on studying novel immune pathways that control inflammatory immune responses in the human intestine and that act to maintain a healthy homeostasis between the host and the environment at the mucosal surface.
In this context, I particularly concentrate on studying ultra-rare genetic defects and related molecular mechanisms that cause early onset of intestinal inflammation in children, to better understand the causes of inflammatory bowel disease, with the ultimate goal to translate these basic insights into the development of innovative and precise treatment options for those patients with chronic intestinal inflammation that do not respond to current therapeutic approaches.
What do you enjoy most about scientific research?
I very much enjoy to work in an explorative and versatile environment together with highly motivated scientists, clinicians, hospital staff and students. To discuss scientific results, develop interesting hypothesis and test those experimentally with the common goal to improve patient care is a challenging and super exciting day-to-day task.
What’s the best part of being an Oxford University TGU member?
I find the TGU a highly vibrant and stimulating scientific environment, where people from many different countries meet and work together, to literally realise medical research from “bench to bedside”. The great supportive environment from all sides, is definitely one of the best parts of being an Oxford University TGU member.