Michael Pack, M.D.
Professor, Perelman School of Medicine
My lab has a long standing interest in defining mechanisms controlling digestive organ development using the zebrafish model system, and in understanding how this information can be used in a translational context. One focus has been on the development and physiology of the biliary system.
Most recently we have used the zebrafish to develop a model of the congenital disease extra-hepatic biliary atresia (BA), which is the leading indication for liver transplantation in the pediatric population. We have used the zebrafish to identify a novel plant toxin responsible for naturally occurring outbreaks of BA in livestock.
We subsequently showed that the toxin’s specificity for the extra-hepatic biliary ducts is conserved in zebrafish and involves modulation of cell-type specific intrinsic stress responses within the liver and biliary system. We are now devising experimental approaches to understand the developmental origin of this specificity and how it might impact other biliary diseases.