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Dr Bornschein will join the Simmons Group for a project developing strategies to identify patients at high risk of gastritis/gastric cancer.

© Jan Bornschein

The Clinical Academic Research Partnerships scheme (CARP) aims to support consultants working in public health to enhance their research skillset. The prestigious scheme funded by the Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health and Care Research, allows research-qualified health professionals to form collaborative, high-quality research partnerships with leading biomedical researchers.

Dr Jan Bornschein, a Consultant Gastroenterologist based at Oxford University Hospitals, will be joining the Intestinal Immunity in Health and Disease Group at the MRC Human Immunology Unit. The research group led by MRC HIU Director Professor Alison Simmons, investigates the structure and function of the intestine, intestinal immunity, and the pathogenesis of intestinal disease.

“After relocating back to the UK from Germany five years ago, I spend my working days in a 100% clinical position, trying to keep my academic spirit alive in my free time”, says Dr Bornschein “The MRC CARP award will give me the opportunity to get my hands on proper science again and follow my passion in the investigation of gastric inflammation –working in the world-leading environment of the MRC Human Immunology Unit."


Further details about the project:

The development of gastric cancer is strongly linked to inflammation of the stomach that precedes the neoplastic transformation of the gastric lining. While huge advances have been made in the molecular understanding of the actual cancer, we are still far from putting this into a significant advantage for the patient. Hence, there is a strong motion towards a more energetic effort of directing research towards early detection and prevention of the disease.

The main risk factor for gastritis and gastric cancer remains the infection of the stomach with Helicobacter pylori, but not all patients with H. pylori gastritis develop gastric cancer. Other factors contribute in this multifactorial process (diet, smoking, reflux etc.).

Understanding the factors contributing to the initial gastritis and identification of the key drivers of first metaplastic and then neoplastic mucosal transformation is critical to understand the individual risk for each patient and allow tailored scheduling of the investigations needed to facilitate early detection.

We will apply a series of state of the art experimental approaches established in the Simmons lab and MRC HIU to define the human gastric cellular microenvironment during different stages of H. pylori gastritis, in comparison with non-infected patients. We will define the cellular and molecular determinants linked to successful clearance of this infection, define pathways enabling persistence of H. pylori in the stomach and mechanisms by which the bacteria can lead to cancer. The work will involve use of advanced human tissue models of infection that will be used to highlight novel methods to manage patients with this condition. One aim is to identify markers that allow the identification of patients at high risk who would require further endoscopic surveillance.

The project is scheduled to begin in January 2023.