Dr. Barbara Jung
I am a practicing Gastroenterologist with a clinical focus in hereditary GI diseases. My research centers on the mechanisms of GI epithelial cell growth and motility and specifically the modulation of growth suppressive and pro-migratory signaling by TGF family members. Previous work from my lab has demonstrated the importance of the primary receptor of the growth suppressive TGF family member activin in GI epithelia. Currently, my group investigates SMAD-dependent and SMAD-independent signaling including effects of downstream targets and their respective effects on colon epithelia and the surrounding stroma. In this current proposal, we are now applying our expertise to another very important GI disease, acute pancreatitis. We have assembled a team of experts in pancreatitis including clinicians, as well experts on pancreatitis biology and in vivo modeling. The strength of this collaborative group is demonstrated by our recent in press publication in Scientific Reports (Staudacher JJ, Yazici C, Carroll T, Bauer J, Pang J, Krett N, Xia Y, Wilson A, Papachristou G, Whitcomb DC, Fantuzzi G and Jung B. (2017) Activin in acute pancreatitis: Potential risk-stratifying marker and novel therapeutic target. Scientific Reports, in press). As the Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at UIC, I am committed to promoting GI research. To that end, I am the principle investigator for the “Chicago Colorectal Cancer Consortium: Colorectal Cancer in African Americans” IRB established at UIC as well as the PI on an overarching tissue procurement IRB for all GI interested investigators. Through these consortia, we are establishing mechanisms to collect prospective GI tissues and biologic specimen as well as clinical data to fully support translational endeavors. Under my leadership, we have competed for and been awarded National Pancreas Foundation Designation. My clinical practice, and our urban high minority patient population allows us to formulate clinically relevant questions with near future impact as in the proposed studies. My role as Division Chief while involved permits me to leverage resources to support translational studies in my Division as well as protect time for my own studies. In these times of clinicians being under intense pressure to generate clinical revenue, translational research efforts are difficult to sustain at many institutions. Therefore, as a physician-scientist and Division Chief, I feel my role is to promote translational research by acting as a role model and providing trainees with avenues to ask and answer meaningful questions to help preserve mechanistic and translational research with direct effects on patient care.