Emerging research into the gut microbiome, and how it affects the balance between health and disease, is the focus of Dr. Alessio Fasano’s talk. In 2000, his group discovered zonulin, a protein which regulates intestinal permeability—a condition sometimes erroneously referred to as “leaky gut.” Dr. Fasano will share his insights into the process of intestinal permeability and the role it plays in inflammation and autoimmune disorders, including celiac disease, his specialty.
Dr. Alessio Fasano is a renowned pediatric gastroenterologist, research scientist, and entrepreneur. In 2000, Dr. Fasano’s team of researchers discovered the ancient molecule zonulin, which regulates intestinal permeability. In 2003, he published the groundbreaking study that established the rate of celiac disease at one in 133 Americans. Dr. Fasano was appointed chief of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in 2013. He directs the Center for Celiac Research, which specializes in treating patients of all ages who have gluten-related disorders, including celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten sensitivity. Under his leadership, investigators are studying the molecular mechanisms of autoimmune disorders, including celiac disease and other-gluten-related disorders. Patients with acute and chronic diarrheal diseases and infants and children who have difficult-to-treat gastrointestinal problems are also treated. He also directs the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center and is the associate chief for Basic, Clinical and Translational Research. Dr. Fasano has been featured in hundreds of interviews and media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, CNN, and others.