R. Balfour Sartor, MD, the Margaret W. and Lorimer W. Midget Distinguished Professor of Medicine in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology, and professor of microbiology and immunology, has received the American Gastroenterological Association‘s Distinguished Achievement Award in Basic Science. The award will be presented during Digestive Disease Week 2020, May 1-5, 2020, in Chicago, Illinois.
Sartor receives the award for accomplishments that have significantly contributed to the understanding of the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Seminal observations throughout his career have helped launch the area of inquiry that led to the recognition that the microbiome is a key to IBD, protective immune responses, intestinal neoplasia, metabolic syndrome and hepatic disorders.
“This career achievement award from my peers is incredibly humbling because I realize how many individuals contributed to the success of my research program over four decades, and how fortunate I have been to be in the incredibly supportive environment of the University of North Carolina, IBD community, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and the AGA,” said Sartor. “Without the support of my family, mentors, collaborators, colleagues, staff, patients and funding organizations, none of these ideas would have reached fruition.”
“This is also a tremendous honor that will spur me on to try to achieve greater clinical application by manipulating the microbiome to more effectively and safely manage IBD patients and prevent onset of disease in high risk patients.”
Sartor, who founded the UNC Multidisciplinary IBD Center and co-directs the Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease, leads basic and translational research investigating the mechanisms of chronic intestinal inflammation and mucosal homeostasis performed in genetically engineered (knockout and transgenic) mice raised under specific pathogen-free, germ-free (sterile), or selectively colonized gnotobiotic conditions. His studies investigate the ability of specific components of the intestinal microbiota to induce chronic T-cell mediated inflammation in genetically susceptible hosts versus protective mucosal immune responses in normal hosts. The latter studies help identify clinically relevant live biotherapeutic products to treat chronic inflammatory disorders, including IBD.