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Center for Epithelial Disorders

The Johns Hopkins Center for Epithelial Disorders focuses on research into the physiology and pathophysiology of epithelial cells (cells that line the cavities and interior surfaces of the body) of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, liver, pancreas and kidney. Specifically, the center’s research seeks to:

  • Understand the mechanisms regulating the activity of transport proteins (including channels) of epithelial cells
  • Characterize the mechanisms by which polarity of epithelial cells are maintained
  • Investigate the mechanisms controlling transcription of epithelial-specific genes
  • Understand the pathophysiological basis of GI and renal diseases that involve the preceding three components

The center also provides a framework for training fellows in gastroenterology and hepatology to become independent investigators.

Center Investigators


Photo of Dr. Mark Donowitz, M.D.

Donowitz, Mark, M.D.

Professor of Medicine
Professor of Physiology
Director, Hopkins NIH/NIDDK Conte Core Center
GI Division, Director of Basic Research

Sandra Guggino, Ph.D.

Joseph Handler, M.D.

Charles Heilig, M.D., Ph.D.

Ann Hubbard, Ph.D.

Olga Kovbasnjuk, Ph.D.

Moo Kwon, Ph.D.

Cynthia Sears, M.D.

Chung-Ming Tse, Ph.D.


The center is funded primarily through individual investigator-initiated extramural research grant support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In addition, an NIH-supported Program Project Grant (PPG) in digestive diseases provides support. The PPG provides common resources in the form of service core facilities, including a Cell Culture Core and a Fluorescence Imaging Core. The core includes a laser confocal microscope and a two-photon microscope.