ESR Project 5
Hilal is an early career researcher working at the University Hospital Bonn, Department of Surgery. Her project focuses on understanding how the gastrointestinal (GI) tract heals itself after a surgical operation. Healing disturbances frequently occur the site of a so called anastomosis, a structure that is prepared by the surgeon in order to restore GI passage after surgical resection of parts of the GI tract. Healing disturbances affect up to 20% of patients undergoing GI anastomosis and in the worst case, insufficient healing results in anastomotic leakage with translocation of intestinal contents to the abdominal cavity. This is the most dreaded complication with high mortality and morbidity rates. Therefore, by analysing how the intestine successfully heals itself, Hilal aims to identify what goes wrong with the patients who experience leakage and to develop new preventive/treatment strategies.
Intestine is made up of many different cell types such as immune cells, neurons and epithelial cells. Moreover, it hosts millions of micro-organisms, such as bacteria, which are collectively called microbiome. It has been established that cell types present in the intestine and microbiome need to work together to keep the intestine healthy and functional. In this project, Hilal hypothesized that healing of the tissue also depends on successful communication between cells and microbiome.
In order to test her hypothesis, Hilal will use various state-of-the-art technologies such as single-cell RNA sequencing, 16S rRNA metagenomics and gut-on-a-chip organoids. After describing how intestine heals itself at the University Hospital Bonn, Hilal will move to the Netherlands to develop solutions to healing problems at DSCN Research in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.