Centre for Gastroenterology and Nutritition
Gastroenterology and Nutrition is part of the Division of Medicine
The research of the Neurogastroenterology Group encompasses basic gut neurophysiology, study of the aetiology and management of functional disorders, and takes a translational approach to continence and defaecation disorders. There are active collaborations with neuroscientists at Queen Square and the UK’s spinal injuries units, which enhance the basic science capacity of the group and permit innovative work on the gastrointestinal aspects of degenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
The centre’s Tissue Engineering Group is exploring new materials for intestinal healing and repair, in concert with the centre’s parallel interests in the gut hormones most relevant to intestinal growth and regeneration. Collaborations with other groups within UCL (at the Eastman Dental Institute, and at the Institute of Child Health, in particular) introduce complementary expertise with materials science and stem cell exploration respectively. There is also a close affiliation to the UCL Department of Engineering with which there is now a tradition of conjoint research students
Despite strength in the basic sciences UCL had not had a major focus on clinical nutrition, but this has changed with the creation of one of the UK’s busiest clinical services in nutrition and intestinal failure at UCH. Work includes that on the underlying biology of intestinal fistula and intestinal adaptation, as well as evaluation of pre- and pro-biotics. Collaborations are currently mainly outside UCL (King’s College London, University of Parma, University of Warsaw) but an NIHR-supported initiative is greatly enhancing the links to the UCL Institute of Liver and Digestive Health and study of the interface between intestinal function and liver failure.
Most aspects of gastrointestinal research are represented within the work of the clinical academics associated with the centre. Particular note should be made of the Centre for Metabolic Medicine and its pioneering work on the aetiology of inflammatory bowel disease. The National Medical Laser Centre (Division of Surgery) also encompasses activity and personnel from those affiliated to the Centre for Gastroenterology. Groups exploring gastrointestinal cancers in the Cancer Institute have important links with the centre, and particularly so in the case of the biliary cancers and those for whom photodynamic therapy is being evaluated. The Hampstead campus is the base for an extensive programme of research into neuroendocrine tumours, and the role of gastrin in the stimulation of tumour growth. Radiation injury to the intestine forms the background to research between the centre and both gynaecological and prostate oncologists. The centre is a participant in the Wellcome UK IBD Genetics Consortium, and leads in the implementation of specialist and invasive endoscopy techniques, including optical biopsy.