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Research Lab – Department of Clinical Sciences 

Intestinal Regenerative Medicine

Lab Contact:    919.513.6919

Liara Gonzalez, an assistant professor of gastroenterology and equine surgery at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, was the first to develop a large animal porcine model to study intestinal stem cells and was the first to identify these cells in horses.

She and her team are also the first to grow and expand intestinal stem cells into 3-D complex structures from tissues derived from both pigs and horses.

NC State CVM Intestinal Regenerative Medicine lab members in tie dyed lab coats

Ongoing Research

gonzalez_lab_enteroid_psmanipIntestinal disease is severely debilitating to both veterinary and human patients. In horses, colic is the leading known cause of death. Additionally, gastrointestinal diseases affect approximately 60 to 70 million Americans annually. One of the most dangerous forms of intestinal disease that afflicts both humans and animals is intestinal ischemia and reperfusion injury, which result in a lack of blood flow to the intestine.

gonzalez_lab_experiment_06-bf-vsiIn the face of no new therapies for treatment of intestinal ischemia in decades, intestinal stem cells have been heralded as the greatest potential therapeutic because of their tremendous capacity for proliferation and mucosal repair. Intensive study is underway to understand and harness the therapeutic potential of intestinal stem cells. NC State is leading the way in the field of large animal intestinal stem cells and novel stem cell-driven structures called enteroids, or “mini guts.”

  • (2016) The key to translational discovery in digestive disease.Ziegler A, Gonzalez LM, Blikslager AT. |
  • (2016) Book Chapter: Intestinal Stem Cells.Gonzalez LM. | In: Blikslager AT, White NA, Moore JN, Mair TS, Eds., Equine Acute Abdomen, 3rd Edition. Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken, NJ, 2016
  • (2016) Book Chapter: Intestinal Viability.Gonzalez LM. | In: Blikslager AT, White NA, Moore JN, Mair TS, Eds., Equine Acute Abdomen, 3rd Edition. Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken, NJ, 2016
  • (2016) An evaluation of the psychometric properties of an advising survey for medical and professional program students.Royal KD, Gonzalez LM. | Journal of Educational Developmental Psychology 2016;6(1).Epub
  • (2015) The mother of a gut cell: Intestinal epithelial stem cells. Gonzalez LM, | Equine Vet Educ. Invited editorial 2015;27(11)559-560.
  • (2015) Porcine models of digestive disease: the future of large animal translational research. Gonzalez LM, Moeser AJ, Blikslager AT. | Translational Research 2015;166(1)12-27. PMID:25655839.
  • (2015) Characterization of Discrete Equine Intestinal Epithelial Cell Lineages.Gonzalez LM, Kinnin LS, Blikslager AT. | Am J Vet Res 2015;76(4)358-66. PMID:25815577
  • (2015) Animal models of ischemia-reperfusion induced intestinal injury: progress and promise for translational research.Gonzalez LM, Moeser AJ, Blikslager AT. | Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 2015;308(2)G63-75. PMID:25414098.
  • (2015) Operative Factors Associated with Short-term Survival in Horses with Large Colon Volvulus: 47 cases from 2006 to 2013.Gonzalez LM, Fogle CF, Baker WT, Hughes FE, Law JM, Motsinger-Reif AA, Blikslager AT. | Equine Vet J 2015;47(3)279-84. PMID:24735170.
  • (2013) Development of a porcine model to study stem cell driven regeneration of the intestinal epithelium. Gonzalez LM, Williamson I, Piedrahita JA, Blikslager AT, Magness ST. | PLoS ONE 2013;8(6):e66465. PMID:23840480.
  • (2010) Magnetic resonance imaging of metacarpo(tarso) phalangeal region.Gonzalez LM, Schramme MC, Redding WR, Robertson ID, Thrall DE. | Vet Radiol Ultrasound 2010;51:404-414. PMID:20806872.

Faculty

liara_web

Dr. Liara Gonzalez, DVM, PhD, DACVS is a veterinarian, specialty trained in large animal surgery, with a clinical and research focus on intestinal disease. Dr. Gonzalez’ research has aimed to develop and utilize large animal models to translate lab bench findings into clinically relevant therapeutic interventions that benefit both human and veterinary patients.

She is particularly interested in identifying improved means to determine tissue viability following severe intestinal injury as well as studying the role of intestinal stem cells in modulating mucosal barrier repair following ischemic damage. Much of her research, to date, has developed the techniques necessary to utilize porcine tissue for the study of intestinal stem cells that includes porcine crypt isolation and 3D culture. Dr. Gonzalez hopes to apply her knowledge and expertise in advanced laboratory techniques to solve clinically significant problems and further elucidate therapeutic targets to ultimately improve patient survival. Outside of work, Dr. Gonzalez enjoys, trail running, ride and tie (rideandtie.org), CrossFit, and travel.

Staff

John Freund: John Freund joined the Gonzalez lab in June of 2015. He studied Molecular Biology at Westminster College before post graduate education in Forensic science at at Duquesne University and in Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. John brings 20 years of hands-on laboratory experience to the Gonzalez lab . Before moving to Raleigh, John was a lab manager at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Pittsburgh and at West Virginia University. John is a native of Pittsburgh, PA and a life long Steelers fan. He and his wife Janice enjoy their rescue dog, riding motorcycles, fishing and boating.

Graduate Students

Amy Stieler Stewart, DVM, Diplomate of the American College of Internal Medicine, PhD Candidate 2019
Dr. Amy Stieler Stewart is a graduate student obtaining her PhD under the instruction of Dr. Liara Gonzalez. Amy is originally from Merritt Island, Florida and attended the University of Florida for her undergraduate and veterinary degrees (Go Gators!!). She then completed a one-year rotating internship in Large Animal Medicine and Surgery at the University of Georgia. She returned to the University of Florida in 2012, completed a three-year residency in Large Animal Medicine and became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 2015. Following completion of her PhD, she hopes to obtain a faculty position at a Veterinary Teaching Hospital continuing her passion for practicing high-quality medicine, educating veterinary students and conducting research to benefit her patients and society. In her free time, Amy enjoys distance running, cross-training at the gym, sports and traveling with her husband Shawn.

Veterinary Students

  • Cecilia Kucera: Cecilia is a veterinary student at NC State CVM in the class of 2018. She has spent her vet school summers working in the Gonzalez lab focusing on clinical studies of the role of intestinal stem and progenitor cells in cases of equine large colon volvulus and small intestine strangulations. Cecilia is originally from Winston-Salem, NC and attended Wake Forest University for her undergraduate degree. While her career goals are still in the developing stages, Cecilia plans on pursuing a PhD post-graduation from veterinary school in order to obtain her dream job as a combined researcher and clinician. Outside of school, Cecilia enjoys playing the fiddle with several bluegrass/old time and Irish music groups, backpacking, and riding/competing with her horse, Dill Pickle.
  • Madison Voigt: Madison is a veterinary student at North Carolina State University class of 2019. Madi is from Brighton, Michigan and attended the University of Georgia. She competed as a division 1 athlete on the equestrian team during her undergraduate tenure and graduated with a major in biological science. Madi joined the Gonzalez lab as an undergraduate student and returned for the summer following her first year of veterinary school to participate in the Merial Veterinary Scholars program, where she researched porcine intestinal stem cells utilizing surface markers and flow cytometry. Madi enjoys nurturing enteroids and helping them grow to their full potential, and has increasing interests in flow cytometry and fluorescence activated cell sorting. In her free time she enjoys riding horses, running, and spending time with family.

Undergraduates

Justin Davidson: I am a junior majoring in Biology with a concentration in Integrative Physiology and Neurobiology at NC State. I work on various roles in the lab as well as analyzing and imaging Crypt Cells. Outside of the lab, I enjoy exercising and playing sports especially basketball, listening and playing music, as well as playing videogames. I am a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. as well as an NC State University Ambassador. In the future I hope to attend medical school to study to become a surgeon and find new ways to combine research and medicine.