O'Connell Lab

Our primary goals are

  1. improving health of premature babies and neonates
  2. building a diverse and fully inclusive academic community
  3. improving our understanding of the regulation and development of the intestine and immune system
  4. making science accessible to people from all backgrounds
WNT2B HIO 2x B6_Plate_D_p00_0_B06f01d4

The O'Connell lab investigates development of the intestine and immune system in babies and children.

On the intestinal side, we hope to learn more about normal developmental processes that happen in the human premature and neonatal intestine, since relatively little is known from a basic biological standpoint. We are curious about how these developmental changes contribute to the development of the intestinal disease necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), as well as how understanding fetal intestinal stem cell transitions may inform regenerative strategies for other intestinal disorders.

Our immune system work has been more translational, as we look to improve methods for detecting primary immunodeficiency in premature babies and to characterize immune dysfunction in former premature infants, a disorder we have termed Prematurity Related Immune Dysfunction (PRID). As the lab moves forward we are becoming more interested in combining our immune and intestinal work, and are working on creating a new model to examine intestinal immune development.

The lab also has a long-standing interest in orphan disease discovery and characterization, particularly intestinal and immune phenotypes, and that work continues as a complement to our primary areas of investigation.