Lori R. Holtz, MD, MSPH

Assistant Professor, Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, School of Medicine
data science, drug development & delivery, gastrointestinal disease, genomics, global health, infectious diarrhea, infectious disease, malnutrition, soil & water quality, virology

Dr. Holtz’s research is centered around the developing childhood gut and disorders that effect the gut including diarrhea, environmental enteropathy, and celiac disease. Her lab uses metagenomics, virology, and epidemiology to begin to define the gut virome in health and disease

The first microbial colonization of the gut is hypothesized to be a critical developmental process, which sets the stage for the infant’s future health and disease risk. The lab is interested in determining how the gut virome develops, factors that influence its development, and if perturbations in the virome are associated with disease.

Diarrhea is an important cause of morbidity and mortality, yet about 30-40% of diarrhea remains of unknown etiology. We recently identified novel viruses in pediatric diarrhea samples and are working on better understanding their epidemiology.

Environmental enteropathy is a diffuse villous atrophy of the small bowel in regions of the world with inadequate dietary intake, poor sanitation and poor hygiene. Current understanding is that environmental enteropathy results from malnutrition in combination with chronic or repeated infections. In collaboration with Dr. Mark Manary, Dr. Holtiz is working to determine if viruses have a role in the development of environmental enteropathy.

The gastrointestinal tract plays roles not only in digestion and absorption, but also as a barrier to potential invaders including microbes, toxins, and other antigenic molecules. Gut barrier function is deranged in celiac disease, an autoimmune disease characterized by villous destruction and crypt hypertrophy in response to exposure to dietary gluten in genetically susceptible people. She is studying intestinal permeability in children with new onset celiac disease.