A Triple Play for Gastroenterology at UC San Diego

Division of Gastroenterology physician-scientists John T. Chang, MD, Pradipta Ghosh, MD, and Bernd Schnabl, MD, all were inducted into the American Society for Clinical Investigation on April 15, 2016.

To become a member of the ASCI, one of North America’s oldest and most respected medical honor societies, outstanding young investigators must be nominated and their nominations reviewed, ranked and scored in a process that selects less than 80 scientists from all areas of medicine each year.

“To have three young investigators from a single institution receive this honor in a single year is remarkable,” said William Sandborn, MD, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology.

Said Sheila E. Crowe, MD, Director of Research in Gastroenterology, “This is indeed an exceptional achievement for John, Pradipta and Bernd as individuals, and they bring great honor to the Division collectively.”

The three honorees are Associate Professors of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology.

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John T. Chang, MD

John T. Chang, MD, investigates fundamental mechanisms underlying lymphocyte fate specification in systemic and mucosal immune responses. This research theme has important relevance to human health and disease, particularly vaccine design for infectious diseases that affect the gastrointestinal tract and in developing new therapeutic approaches for inflammatory bowel disease.

Dr. Chang is principal investigator of several active research grants, including two NIH R01 grants, an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, and a Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America Senior Research Award. These grants fund Dr. Chang’s research to elucidate mechanisms by which regulators of polarity and asymmetric division influence T lymphocyte fate specification and function during microbial infection; the process by which T lymphocytes develop into pathogenic cells that cause intestinal inflammation; and identifying new approaches that enhance the function of regulatory T cells for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.

He is also a past recipient of a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Physician-Scientist Early Career Award and a V Foundation V Scholar Award. The latter has supported his work on the role of the cellular degradation machinery in cancer stem cell homeostasis.

Dr. Chang earned his MD from Temple University. He took two years off during medical school as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute-National Institutes of Health Research Scholar to pursue research training. Dr. Chang completed his internship/residency and gastroenterology fellowship training, along with four years of postdoctoral research in immunology, at the University of Pennsylvania. He joined the UC San Diego Division of Gastroenterology faculty in 2009.

Dr. Pradipta Ghosh

Pradipta Ghosh, MD

Pradipta Ghosh, MD, investigates the cell biology of signal transduction to find new ways to understand and block the development and spread of cancer and other diseases. Dr. Ghosh’s work has established a new paradigm in signal transduction by characterizing a new family of proteins which allow diverse receptors to transactivate heterotrimeric G-proteins. She unraveled the molecular mechanisms that govern such activation and established its unique spatiotemporal features. Finally, she demonstrated the relevance of this paradigm to modern medicine by defining the therapeutic potential of key signaling interfaces in diverse pathophysiologic states including diabetes, organ fibrosis, and cancer.

Her research funding includes three NIH R01 research grants, among them two five-year National Cancer Institute research grants that support her projects, “Modulation of G Proteins by Growth Factors” and “Spatial Regulation of G Protein Signaling.”

Among her scholarly awards are an American Gastroenterology Association Research Scholar Award in 2008, a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Medical Scientists in 2009, and a Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) Clinical Scientist Development Award in 2010.

Dr. Ghosh joined the Division of Gastroenterology faculty as assistant professor of medicine in 2008. She is a graduate of the UC San Diego Internal Medicine Residency Training Program, the Gastroenterology Fellowship Training Program and the Department of Medicine Physician-Scientist Training Program. She earned her MBBS in medicine at Christian Medical College and Hospital, India.

Bernd Schnabl, MD, PhD

Bernd Schnabl, MD

Bernd Schnabl, MD, focuses his research on liver disease. In studies funded by an NIH R01 grant, a NIH U01 cooperative agreement, a VA Merit Award, and industry grants, he is examining the relationship between liver disease and the intestinal microbiota.

He seeks to understand mechanisms by which the intestinal microbiome, metagenome and metabolome promote the development of chronic liver diseases. The goals of his investigations include the identification of new therapeutic targets for patients with liver disease.

Dr. Schnabl’s past honors and awards include an NIH K08 Career Development Award from the NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and an American Gastroenterological Association/Astra Zeneca Faculty Transition Award. The K08 award supported his project, “Blocking Toll-Like Receptor 4 Signaling as Therapy in Hepatic Fibrosis.” He is currently Associate Editor of Digestive Disease and Sciences, the oldest continuously published gastroenterology journal in North America.

After he received his medical degree from the University of Freiburg in Germany, Dr. Schnabl spent three years in postdoctoral research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He completed his medical residency at the University Hospital in Regensburg/Germany and his gastroenterology fellowship training at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City.

He joined the UC San Diego Division of Gastroenterology in 2008.

The ASCI new member induction ceremony took place on Friday, April 15, at the 2016 Joint Meeting of the Association of American Physicians, the ASCI, and the American Physician-Scientists Association in Chicago.

Dr. Bernd Schnabl and Coworkers Find Another Way Alcohol Damages the Liver

Natural gut antibiotics diminished by alcohol leave mice more prone to bacterial growth in the liver, exacerbating alcohol-induced liver disease —

Alcohol itself can directly damage liver cells. Now researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report evidence that alcohol is also harmful to the liver for a second reason — it allows gut bacteria to migrate to the liver, promoting alcohol-induced liver disease. The study, conducted in mice and in laboratory samples, is published February 10 in Cell Host & Microbe.

“Alcohol appears to impair the body’s ability to keep microbes in check,” said senior author Bernd Schnabl, MD, associate professor of gastroenterology at UC San Diego School of Medicine. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


BBernd Schnabl, MDernd Schnabl, MD, is Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology faculty members Samuel B. Ho, MD, Professor of Medicine; and David A. Brenner, MD, Vice Chancellor, Health Sciences, Dean of UC San Diego School of Medicine and Professor of Medicine are coauthors of the study report.

Read the Article Abstract

Dr. Schnabl’s Laboratory Website

Blocking Tumor-Induced Inflammation Impacts Cancer Development

How tumors exploit microflora and immune cells to fuel growth

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report the discovery of microbial–dependent mechanisms through which some cancers mount an inflammatory response that fuels their development and growth. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Division of Gastroenterology physician-scientists Bernd Schnabl, MD, and Lars Eckmann, MD, along with former postdoctoral fellow Christoph H. Österreicher are coauthors of the study report.

Dr. Eckmann, professor of medicine, directs the UCSD Center for Tissue Repair, Epithelial Biology and Inflammation, and Transformation (C-TREAT), a National Institutes of Health Digestive Disease Research Development Center. In his research laboratory, he addresses the mechanisms governing infection-related intestinal disease and the host defenses against them; and the pathophysiology of intestinal inflammation.

Dr. Schnabl, assistant professor of medicine, leads a research laboratory whose primary purpose is to investigate cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the progression of chronic liver diseases with a special emphasis on the gut-liver axis. In 2011, he was awarded a five-year R01 research grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for his project, “Microbiome and Intestinal Innate Immune Response in Alcoholic Liver Disease.”

Read the published report in Nature [full text UCSD only]

Citation: Grivennikov SI, Wang K, Mucida D, Stewart CA, Schnabl, B, Jauch D, Taniguchi K, Yu G-Y, Osterreicher CH, Hung KE, Datz C, Feng Y, Fearon ER, Oukka M, Tessarollo L, Coppola V, Yarovinsky F, Cheroutre H, Eckmann L, Trinchieri G, Karin M. Adenoma-linked barrier defects and microbial products drive IL-23/IL-17-mediated tumour growth. Nature 2012/10/03, advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature11465.