Ramnik Xavier, a senior associate member of the Broad Institute, is also Chief of Gastroenterology at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the director of MGH’s Center for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. As a clinical gastroenterologist and molecular biologist, he studies the specific molecular mechanisms involved in innate and adaptive immunity as well as the genetic variants associated with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and type 1 diabetes.
Working on a project funded by The Leona M. And Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, Xavier is seeking a better understanding of Crohn’s and type 1 diabetes, based on the soaring number of genes now known to be implicated in the two immune-related disorders. His lab has translated an unprecedented number of genes to function, and Xavier has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers over the course of his career.
Recent findings in Xavier’s laboratory have helped elucidate the role of autophagy – a cellular process that digests and recycles proteins -- in the development of Crohn’s disease. His team has also discovered novel immune regulatory genes involved in innate and adaptive immunity; identified innate immune pathways that sense microbial invaders (danger signals); and pinpointed metabolic stress programs in immunity. In addition, Xavier and his team are pursuing new methods to understand the relationship between microbes living in the human gut and Crohn’s disease and to connect these patterns back to human genetics. Through a project funded by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, Xavier and his colleagues are examining relationships between human genetic variants and the microbiome in children and adults. Xavier will also lead a program to look for connections between the microbiome and type 1 diabetes.
Through a transformative collaboration with the Broad’s Chemical Biology Platform, the Xavier laboratory aims to discover small molecules that can correct pathways defective in Crohn’s and type 1 diabetes. Xavier and his colleagues have made progress in identifying small molecules in the autophagy pathway (Crohn’s) and regulatory T cells (Crohn’s and type 1 diabetes).
In his role as Chief of Gastroenterology at MGH, which he assumed in 2010, Xavier oversees one of the only comprehensive, multidisciplinary programs in New England dedicated to diagnosing, treating, and managing patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. U.S. News&World Report has ranked the center fourth in the country for digestive care. Xavier was elected to the American Association of Physicians in 2011and is also a fellow of the American College of Physicians and a fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology.
Xavier received his M.B., Ch.B. from the University of Zimbabwe and completed his residency at MGH. He received his Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.