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The Hackam Lab for Pediatric Surgical, Translational and Regenerative Medicine

David Hackam’s laboratory focuses on necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a devastating disease of premature infants and the leading cause of death and disability from gastrointestinal disease in newborns.

The disease strikes acutely and without warning, causing sudden death of the small and large intestines. In severe cases, tiny patients with the disease are either dying or dead from overwhelming sepsis within 24 hours. Surgical treatment to remove most of the affected gut results in lifelong short gut (short bowel) syndrome.

We invite parents and families of children facing complex conditions or illnesses to use this site as an informational resource. We also welcome investigators seeking to collaborate with us and individuals who may be interested in joining our growing team.


Learn more about necrotizing enterocolitis and why it’s important to fight this catastrophic condition.

Hackam team

From pay scales to benefits to opportunities for educational advancement, the rewards of being a Hopkins nurse are concrete and measurable.
Meet the team that’s developing breakthrough treatments for necrotizing enterocolitis.

amniotic scan

Discover the areas of scientific investigation our lab is focusing on.

Discovery and Investigation Highlights

Identifying a Key Protein

The Hackam Lab has identified a critical role for the innate immune receptor toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) in the pathogenesis of necrotizing enterocolitis. The lab has shown that TLR4 regulates the development of the disease by tipping the balance between injury and repair in the stressed intestine of the premature infant.

Developing an Artificial Intestine

A key goal is to create, in the laboratory, new intestines made from patients’ own cells, which can then be implanted into the patient to restore normal digestive function. This innovative design could transform child development and quality of life in necrotizing enterocolitis survivors without the risks of conventional donor transplant.

Read about the recognition awarded to members of our team for their inspiring work.