John and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professor of Surgery,
Susan Ford Surgeon-in-Chief at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital,
and Professor of Bioengineering
Lengthening the small intestine is a potentially curative therapy for patients with intestinal failure due to short bowel syndrome. Short bowel syndrome is the end result of devastating diseases that affect the small intestine. Patients with short bowel syndrome have malabsorption and cannot eat normal meals. The current therapy for short bowel syndrome consists of providing parenteral nutrition, optimizing the health of the remnant intestine, and enhancing intestinal adaptation. While parenteral nutrition has dramatically improved their survival, many patients with short bowel syndrome cannot be weaned from parenteral nutrition and develop end stage liver disease. Over the last decade, we developed and refined devices to lengthen the small intestine. By applying a gradual force to a segment of the small intestine separated from continuity, we were able to triple the length of the small intestine in a rodent model. There was a net growth of the intestinal cell mass and an increase in the absorptive surface area. The lengthened segment was functional when it was restored back into intestinal continuity. These rodent studies demonstrated the potential of mechanical intestinal lengthening as a novel treatment of patients with short bowel syndrome. This approach will revolutionize the treatment strategy of patients with short bowel syndrome.
James Dunn received his BS in Biology and Chemical Engineering with honors from California Institute of Technology and the MD/PhD at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992. He subsequently completed the general surgery residency at UCLA and pediatric surgery fellowship at Riley Hospital for Children. He returned to the UCLA faculty in 2001, where he rose to be Chair of the Biomedical Engineering Interdepartment Program and Chief of Pediatric Surgery at the Mattel Children’s Hospital. In 2016, he became the John and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professor of Surgery and the Susan Ford Surgeon-in-Chief at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and has a courtesy appointment in the Department of Bioengineering at Stanford University. His research interest is tissue engineering of internal organs, with particular emphasis on the intestine.