Kevin McGowan

Linda Samuelson Lab

Areas of Interest

The gastrointestinal tract is home to highly proliferative epithelial stem cells that constantly divide to restore the intestinal lining every 3-5 days. These resident stem cells are maintained by a specialized microenvironment of factors that promote self-renewal, known as a niche. During homeostasis the niche is tightly regulated to promote both self-renewal and differentiation to maintain epithelial health and integrity. However, in injury and disease stem cell activity is altered through either cell-intrinsic or niche-dependent mechanisms to promote proliferation. My research focuses on understanding these two axes, injury and disease, to further our understanding of stem cell function in the gastrointestinal tract. In injury, we are looking at how the niche environment responds to loss of stem cells due to irradiation damage, and how different populations of cells contribute to this regenerative process. In disease, we are specifically looking at how dysregulated Wnt signaling, and essential component of the niche environment, contributes to the formation of gastric polyps in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). While FAP leads to the development of polyps throughout the gastrointestinal tract, the stomach is largely spared from the cancerous phenotype that plagues the colon. We are therefore investigating regional differences in Wnt signaling and how these differences may underlie the formation of gastric polyps.