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In addition to our regular CRI Activities Update, this month’s Research Focus highlights the research and work of Scott T. Magness, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Cell Biology and Physiology as well as UNC’s and NC State University’s joint Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Activities Update:

We are busy preparing for the UNC Science Expo. The Expo will be held on Saturday, April 6, from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm on Cameron Avenue, and will feature booths from across UNC’s campus dedicated to STEM education and activities. Please check out Morehead’s website for more details. We hope to see you there! If you are interested in volunteering to help run the booth, please email us at

We are also in the process of summarizing data from our January Qualtrics survey that followed up on priorities identified at the CRI Strategic Planning Meeting. We have drafted a CRI Strategic Plan from the feedback received, which will be shared once finalized.  We appreciate the thoughtful input and comments received in shaping our plan for where we want to leverage or develop resources. This will help to retain and grow our presence as leaders in pediatric research, promoting the health of our children.

Our momentum continues in clinical trials. We have a name for the work we have started to initiate in building a matrix across our department for pediatric human subjects research: the Pediatric Clinical Research Unit (Peds CRU). Thank you to Chayla Hart, Clinical Research Coordinator in the Division of Pediatrics Endocrinology, for lending your creativity in developing this name! It reflects our vision to come together as a “crew” to support all types of pediatric research. We continue to leverage resources for this initiative, led by Miriam Davis, RN with the CRI, and are excited to have a new name to reflect this effort.

Lastly, Stephanie Davis, MD, Chair Department of Pediatrics; Mike Steiner, Vice Chair Clinical Affairs; Toni Darville, MD, Vice Chair Research and Scientific Director CRI; and Suzanne Kennedy, PhD, Administrative Director CRI, traveled to Fayetteville in February to attend a Pinwheels and Promises fundraising event hosted by the Medical Foundation of North Carolina. Dr. Davis provided updates on the CRI, as well as exciting developments taking place within UNC Children’s.

Reminder: Scott T. Magness, PhD, will be presenting at our next CRI luncheon seminar series. This event will be held on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, from 12:15-1:30pm in the Bioinformatics Auditorium (room 1131). Please mark your calendars. We look forward to seeing you there.

Research Focus of the Month:

Scott Magness, PhD

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, affect 3 million adults in the United States[1]. Approximately 25% of patients are diagnosed under the age of 20[2], and onset of symptoms typically occurs in late adolescence and early adulthood.  Scott T. Magness, PhD, is developing models to screen compounds and cell-based therapies to treat intestinal diseases and illness like IBD.

Dr. Magness and his colleagues use a combination of ex-vivo models of the small and large intestines to study intestinal stem cell renewal and multipotency; these include genetic mouse models and micro-fabricated bioengineered platforms. The proliferative process of the intestinal epithelium, which renews itself in its entirety approximately every week, is driven by these tissue-specific intestinal stem cells found in glands within the epithelium.  By understanding the molecular processes that underlie and control the multipotency, pluripotency, and self-renewal capabilities of these stem cells, Dr. Magness is working to discover how stem cells drive regeneration and homeostasis in the body following injury and disease.

This work has tremendous implications for developing strategies that target stem cell regulation, and intestinal renewal and regeneration, in gastrointestinal diseases and disorders, including IBD.[3]

Recent publications from Dr. Magness and related links are below:

Magness Lab

Gonzalez LM, Stewart AS, Freund J, Kucera CR, Dekaney CM, Magness ST, Blikslager AT. Preservation of Reserve Intestinal Epithelial Stem Cells following Severe Ischemic Injury. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2019 Feb 4. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00262.2018. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:30714814

Zwarycz B, Gracz AD, Rivera KR, Williamson IA, Samsa LA, Starmer J, Daniele MA, Salter-Cid L, Zhao Q, Magness ST. IL22 Inhibits Epithelial Stem Cell Expansion in an Ileal Organoid Model. Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2018 Jul 4;7(1):1-17. doi: 10.1016/j.jcmgh.2018.06.008. eCollection 2019. PMID:30364840

Gunasekara DB, Speer J, Wang Y, Nguyen DL, Reed MI, Smiddy NM, Parker JS, Fallon JK, Smith PC, Sims CE, Magness ST, Allbritton NL. A Monolayer of Primary Colonic Epithelium Generated on a Scaffold with a Gradient of Stiffness for Drug Transport Studies. Anal Chem. 2018 Nov 20;90(22):13331-13340. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.8b02845. Epub 2018 Oct 30. PMID: 30350627

Jin Y, Ibrahim D, Magness ST, Blikslager AT. Knockout of ClC-2 reveals critical functions of adherens junctions in colonic homeostasis and tumorigenicity. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2018 Dec 1;315(6):G966-G979. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00087.2018. Epub 2018 Oct 4. PMID: 30285466

Samsa LA, Williamson IA, Magness ST. Quantitative Analysis of Intestinal Stem Cell Dynamics Using Microfabricated Cell Culture Arrays. Methods Mol Biol. 2018;1842:139-166. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-8697-2_10. PMID: 30196407


[2-3] Rosen MJ, Dhawan A, Saeed SA. Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Children and Adolescents. JAMA Pediatr. 2015 Nov;169(11):1053-60. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.1982. PMID: 26414706.