Mark Donowitz, professor in the Division of Gastroenterology, is one of three principle investigators on a newly funded National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Program Project Grant (PPG) to use normal human enteroids to understand pathophysiology of some of the major causes of diarrhea and diarrheal death world wide. Mark, along with James Nataro, chair of Pediatrics at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, and James Kaper, senior associate dean for academic affairs and professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, bring together expertise in human enteroid models, molecular microbiology and intestinal transport physiology as a readout of diarrheal diseases.

The host-pathogens to be studied include Enteroaggregative E. coli (first recognized by Nataro and Kaper), Enterotoxigenic E coli (leading cause of traveler’s diarrhea), Enteohemorrhagic E coli (major cause of hemolytic uremic syndrome and usually related to consumption of undercooked chopped meat) and Shigella. The four projects are headed by Olga Kovbasnjuk, associate professor in the Division of Gastroenterology, Jim Nataro, Eileen Berry at the University of Maryland and Mark Donowitz. There are three cores with the JHU Enteroid Core headed by Nicholas Zachos, assistant professor in GI, and an Immunology Core at the University of Maryland headed by Marcella Paretti. All projects use human enteroid monolayers, an advance developed by Olga, Nicholas and JHU junior faculty Jennifer Foulke-Abel and Julie In. The PPG is funded for five years with a yearly direct cost budget of $1.4 million.

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