Last month, BME Department Head Dr. Nancy Allbritton found herself the topic of the Director’s Blog on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website. The post, written by NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, highlights Dr. Allbritton’s incredible vision and work on creating a miniature replica colon–a feat considered impossible until very recently. Dr. Allbritton and her incredible team, BME faculty Drs. Shawn Gomez and Scott Magness and Dr. Scott Bultman (UNC), are first developing a structural matrix in which they will be able to produce highly-specialized intestinal cells. In so doing, they will be able to effectively recreate the environment of a human colon. But the team is always focused on the ultimate goal: building a working miniature colon simulacra. Once this replica colon is fully realized, we will be able to get a behind-the-scenes look into the colon’s response to both internal and external stimulations. To modern-day medicine, this means that exploring the side effects of a drug can become a part of a personalized medicine plan; it means that we will be able to study how one’s body reacts to all types of factors (including dietary changes). The blog post, available here, has been shared thousands of times across social media alone– a testament to just how much impact this research could have on the lives of millions.
A massive congratulations to Nancy, Shawn, and both Scotts on this remarkable achievement. We cannot wait to see the outcome!