Main Header Image

Harvard Digestive Diseases Center

The Harvard Digestive Disease Center is a community of scientists focused on the study of epithelial cell function and mucosal biology in inflammation, host defense, and cancer of the gastrointestinal tract and related mucosal surfaces. The Center aims to facilitate multidisciplinary research in this field by providing technical resources, core services, scientific expertise, and an important meeting point to foster close scientific and intellectual relationships among independent investigators in Harvard-affiliated hospitals, the Harvard Medical School and adjacent research institutions in the Longwood Medical Area.

Visit this Center

The research of HDDC members explores many aspects of mucosal biology that includes epithelial barriers and their connective tissue interactions, pathogenic and commensal microbial flora, and the complex cell populations responsible for innate and acquired immune protection. The HDDC provides an important meeting point and technical resource for researchers in the Harvard Medical Area who are studying Epithelial and Mucosal Biology in this broad context.

The Imaging Core is dedicated to providing HDDC investigators and their trainees with access to a variety of imaging methods for analysis of tissue, cellular and subcellular structure. The methodologies offered strongly emphasize the integration of structural, functional and biochemical information.

  • imaging of live and fixed biological samples
  • phase and DIC imaging
  • widefield fluorescence
  • ratio imaging
  • laser scanning and spinning-disk confocal microscopy
  • dual-color total internal reflection microscopy
  • 5-D fluorescence imaging
  • FRAP
  • photoconversion
  • FRET imaging

Visit the Core


The Epithelial Cell Biology Core provides HDDC investigators with access to a variety of technologies and resources required for studies of epithelial cell biology and function at mucosal surfaces. The Core focuses in particular on intestinal cell biology.

  • Provide basic cell culture
  • Polarized epithelial cell culture on Transwell plates with 6.5/12-mm inserts 1.4/3 pm
  • 3D culture in collagen/matrigel gells
  • Generate cell lines permitting expression or knockdown of molecules
  • Direct highly multiplexed direct quantification of individual mRNAs in biological samples by the n-Counter™ system (nanoString Technologies)
  • Assistance with assay for protein expression or cell function by 6-color FACs analysis (BD FACSCanto™ II 6-color system)
  • Assistance with Genetic manipulations of epithelial cells for studies in polarized monolayer culture

Visit the Core


The Molecular and Cell Biochemistry Core aims to provide state-of-the art support for molecular and cellular biochemical research, and key biochemical preparatory services to a broad array of research projects related to epithelial cells of the intestine, liver, and pancreas.

  • Analysis of lipids derived from tissues, cells and organelles
  • Analysis of body fluids such as plasma, bile and intestinal contents
  • Nucleic acids analysis in the form of quantitative real-time PCR using a state-of-the-art, high throughput instrument.
  • Proteomic analyses including mass spectrometry-based protein identification, protein quantification, the detection of protein modifications and the determination of protein mass
  • Preparation of recombinant proteins, including vector design, large-scale prokaryotic or eukaryotic expression and purification

Visit the Core


The Gnotobiotic (germfree mouse) and Microbiology Core provides HDDC investigators with access to germfree mouse isolators, stocks of germfree mice (wild type Swiss-Webster and C57BL/6 strains), and a library of commensal and pathogen strains for use in the study of gastrointestinal diseases and processesinvolving the commensal flora and BL1 and BL2 pathogens. The Core also provides microbiological assessment of mice for sterility or colonization and can assist investigators with preparation of materials for deep sequencing of 16S rRNA gene signatures for evaluation of the microbiome.

  • Maintenance of germfree mice
  • Maintenance of Specifically-Associated Mice
  • On-site breeding and availability of wild-type germfree stocks
  • Tissue harvest and histopathology
  • Aerobic and anaerobic culture
  • Microbial identification and analysis
  • Analyses of the Microbiome

Visit the Core



Warren Strober, M.D., Chair
NIH Clinical Center
Building 10; CRC Room 5-3940
10 Center Drive, MSC 1890
Bethesda, MD 20892-1890

Jonathan Braun, M.D., Ph.D.
UCLA Path and Lab Medicine
BOX 951732, 13-222 CHS
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1732

Mary K. Estes, Ph.D.
Molecular Virology and Microbiology
Baylor College of Medicine
One Baylor Plaza, BCM 385
BCM Jones Building, Room 923E
Houston, TX 77030-3498

Ralph Isberg, Ph.D.
Department of Molecular Biology & Microbiology
Tufts University School of Medicine
150 Harrison Avenue, Jaharis 423
Boston, MA 02111

Monty Krieger, Ph.D.
Professor of Molecular Genetics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 68-483
Cambridge, MA 02142

Leo LeFrancois, Ph.D.
Professor of Medicine
UCONN Health Center
Chair, Department of Immunology
263 Farmington Ave.
Farmington, CT 06030

Sean Colgan, Ph.D.
Kern Professor of Medicine
Director, Mucosal Inflammation Program
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
Biomedical Research Building Room 702
4200 E. 9th Ave SE
Denver, CO 80262

Contact Information
300 Longwood Avenue
Enders 720
Boston, MA 02115

HDDC Administrator
Joanne McCarthy
Telephone: 617-919-2543
Fax: 617-730-0498