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Kaushal Parikh


Postdoctoral Researcher

I received my Ph.D. in Cell Biology from the University of Groningen, The Netherlands in 2010 where my work focused on studying cellular signalling in various pathologies, in particular Crohn’s disease. I then moved to the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam to train as a post-doc at the Centre for Molecular Medicine where I gained further experience in the field of gastrointestinal biology, by developing novel animal models to study Barrett’s Oesophagus and Oesophageal Adenocarcinoma. I joined the Simmons group in 2016 as a senior post-doc and my interest lies in defining the molecular determinants of barrier breakdown in Ulcerative Colitis.

The intestinal epithelium is the first line of defence of the mucosal immune system because it acts as a dynamic physical barrier segregating the luminal content from the underlying mucosal tissue. When the integrity of this barrier is lost, intestinal permeability increases and uncontrolled passage of harmful substances can occur, which depending on an individual’s genetic predisposition can lead to the development of numerous diseases ranging from inflammation to cancer. Loss of barrier integrity of the intestinal epithelium has been described to play a role in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD).

My research aims at addressing the following basic questions: (a) What are the molecular features of the various epithelial cell populations in the healthy intestine? and (b) How do they change in a diseased condition, such as Ulcerative Colitis?

Previously, this has been challenging, particularly in human intestine as many of the specialized cells that might be responsible for barrier defects such as intestinal stem cells are rare making it difficult to isolate these from human tissue samples in numbers sufficient to allow large scale molecular analysis. We (Simmons’s group) are using newly developed technologies that allow us to examine the genes and proteins expressed by single cells. Such experiments will allow us to identify new ulcerative colitis associated disease states. This information will allow us to explore those cells states at a functional level defining the consequences for the barrier function of epithelia.

In addition to single cell RNA sequencing, I am also using various biochemical techniques, histological techniques such as multi-color Immunohistochemistry, single molecule RNA in-situ hybridization, human and murine intestinal organoid cultures, mass-spectrometry, cyTOF and imaging cyTOF to help answer these questions.

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