2017-08-09 19:51:38 UTC

GI Investigator of the Week: Josephine Ni

Aug. 10, 2017

Dr. Josephine Ni, a 2017 AGA Research Foundation grant recipient, opens up about her research and career goals.

The AGA Research Foundation awards program provides grants to the most deserving of investigators working to advance digestive disease research — and Josephine Ni, MD, from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, is no exception. Get to know Dr. Ni, the 2017 AGA-Takeda Pharmaceuticals Research Scholar Award in Inflammatory Bowel Disease grant recipient, by reading the following Q & A.

AGA is now accepting applications for the 2018 AGA-Takeda Pharmaceuticals Research Scholar Award in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Learn more about this award and other research funding opportunities from the AGA Research Foundation.

How would you sum up your research in one sentence?
My work has focused on a mouse model for the development of the dysbiotic microbiota observed in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and we discovered that this dysbiosis can be reproduced by inoculation of a properly prepared murine host with a single bacterial strain of E. coli engineered to express only a single additional gene, urease.

What impact do you hope your research will have on patients?
The goal of the proposed work is to better understand the mechanistic role that nitrogen metabolism plays in the development of the dysbiotic microbiota in IBD with potential applications for ultimately altering the microbial environment of the gut as a stand-alone or adjunctive therapy for the treatment of host diseases associated with a dysbiotic microbiota.

What’s something interesting about your research career? 
I work with mouse poop on a daily basis!

What are your career goals?
I would like to become an independent investigator and physician scientist who works at a large academic center. The AGA-Takeda Pharmaceuticals Research Scholar Award in Inflammatory Bowel Disease will allow me to develop at a critical time in my career as I acquire research experience and training as a physician scientist with the goal of transitioning to an independent investigator.

What drew you to the field of gastroenterology?
Gastroenterologists have the most fun! I get to scope, see patients and run experiments in a typical week. My life is always exciting.

What has surprised you most about your career?
Before I was exposed to bench research, I thought that I would become a clinician educator. Now I spend 80 percent of my time in the lab and can’t imagine doing anything else!

Something you may not know about me is ...
That I used to practice muay thai boxing because I enjoyed the process of learning a new discipline while developing physical stamina.

In my free time I like to ...
What’s free time? Being a mother to a one-year old means that I don’t have a lot of downtime, but whatever time I have I spend giving my daughter snuggles and getting baby raspberries back in return.

Dr. Ni would like to thank Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A. Inc. for their generous support of the AGA Research Foundation awards program, making this award possible.

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