After a day of meetings and Health System updates, the UVA Health Foundation Board of Trustees was invited to MR-4 for an afternoon full of science with the Moore Lab. The visit started with an introduction to the Child Health Research Center (CHRC) by W. Gerald Teague, M.D. – this touched on the origin, structure, mission, accomplishments, and visions of the research center.
Sean Moore, M.D. then introduced lab members and gave an overview of the projects that he is involved in. Importantly, he stated some of the major goals of his research efforts: (1) to alleviate the suffering of patients with chronic gastrointestinal issues such as Crohn’s Disease, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, and chronic inflammation and (2) to prevent and reverse growth and developmental stunting due to malnutrition. He also described the impact these projects will have on the children across the globe and the patients that he and others in the Children’s Research Hospital interact with daily.
The visit culminated with a lab tour, including mini stations that described the various ongoing projects in the lab. Sana Syed and Katie Brown-Steinke manned a station explaining the “Study of Environmental Enteropathy & Malnutrition” (SEEM) project and our work on 2’-fucosylactose, a human breast milk sugar, shown to enhance weight recovery and prevent long-term growth stunting. Deborah Luzader talked about circadian rhythms in the gut and how they are affected by the microbiome. Her station included a demonstration of our KRONOS machines, which allow us to monitor circadian rhythms over time. Casey Hoffman described the benefits of working with mini-guts and how they can be used to study bacterial infections; her station included a hands-on experience in which the Board Members were able to microscopically examine human and mouse derived “mini-guts”. Finally, Daniel Levin, talked about his plans to use tissue-engineering to treat infants and newborns with Short Bowel Syndrome. His station demonstrated the direct therapeutic relevance that much of our research can have.
This lab visit highlighted the variety of work being completed in the Moore Lab, and was only a preview of the numerous research programs in the CHRC. We hope the Board of Trustees had a fantastic time and learned about our research efforts – We surely had fun sharing our work with them!