Shehzad Z. Sheikh, MD, PhD
Full Professor with Tenure – Medicine and Genetics
Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Center of Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Office Telephone: 919-843-4893
Fax: 919-966-8929


Junior Faculty

Erin Steinbach, MD, PhD

Peanut allergy is the #1 cause of fatal anaphylaxis associated with a food allergy; increased intestinal barrier permeability in patients with peanut allergy is associated with more peanut allergen absorption and more severe reactions. I am studying why the intestinal barrier is dysfunctional in peanut allergy so we can develop targeted therapies for severe allergic reactions to peanut.


Post Doctoral Fellows

Kimberly Darlington, MD, PhD
Clinician interested in further defining the molecular signatures of patients with Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease and determining how this may be used to both inform rational use of available therapies and lead to the development of new treatments for these patients.

Anna Salvador, Ph.D, RD, LDN

The role of diet in the in the etiology of inflammatory bowel disease remains unresolved. I am a dietitian-scientist with an interest in dietary antigens contributing to inflammatory bowel disease pathogenesis in genetically susceptible individuals.
Jihad Aljabban, MD, MMSc
Gastroenterology fellow investigating intestinal fibrosis in Crohn’s Disease. Through metabolomic analysis, I will elucidate the biochemical pathways that influence myofibroblast activity in fibrostenotic and penetrating disease with intent to develop new treatments for this phenotype.


Graduate Students

Co-Mentored by the Sheikh & Furey labs

Meaghan Marie Kennedy
Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

I am using RNA-seq, ATAC-seq, and other omics data to understand molecular differences between Crohn’s Disease (CD) and non-IBD patients, as well as the heterogeneity within CD. In particular, I am interested in how long non-coding RNAs alters the expression of protein-coding genes and affects the chromatin structure.

Co-Mentored by the Sheikh & Furey labs

Nina Nishiyama
Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

Crohn’s Disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are complex diseases with several susceptibility loci, but their role in the disease development is not fully understood. I apply statistical methods to combine genetic variant and molecular phenotype datasets to discover new regulatory mechanisms behind Crohn’s Disease and IBD susceptibility.

Katie Clough
Toxicology and Environmental Medicine

I am interested in intestinal barrier dysfunction in the context of disease. I will primarily be working with Dr. Erin Steinbach to investigate the connection between peanut allergy and intestinal barrier permeability. My project will focus on how environmental changes, such as exposure to toxins, may impact the state of the intestine.


Clinical Coordinators

Mikaela Bauer
In the Sheikh Lab, we conduct translational IBD research, which encompasses remarkable scientific discoveries from bedside to bench to practice to help move this important field forward. As a clinical research coordinator, I serve as a liaison between patients and our research team. I am responsible for the recruitment and monitoring of patients as well as specimen collection and processing. In addition, I maintain the regulatory documents for our lab to ensure compliance with Good Clinical Practice.
Gwen Lau
As ongoing research continues to uncover the unknowns of IBD, patient participation in research studies is pivotal in understanding how the disease works and developing better treatment options to improve patient outcomes. As a clinical coordinator, I will be connecting patients with our studies and facilitating sample collection and processing for our research team. I will also be focusing on pediatric patients, as we aim to understand more about IBD in this vulnerable population and how to support them lead a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle.
Sophie Silverstein
Research on inflammatory bowel diseases requires clinical patient data. As a clinical coordinator, my role is to act as a liaison between the research team and patients, collecting and processing IBD tissue for future study. My focus is to optimize patient data for research to better understand disease outcome and treatment.


Lab Manager

Matthew Schaner

Lab manager responsible for equipment maintenance, supply ordering, and project organization/management. Research projects include ATAC-seq, CUT&RUN, RNA-seq, and IEC/LPMC isolation from mouse and human models.



Zena Khaled
As a research technician, I get the opportunity to work alongside multiple amazing and accomplished scientists in this lab. I will be working on the impact of specific diets on inflammatory bowel disease pathogenesis. I will also work on protocols, and I will process tissue samples collected from patients. As my time here continues, I am looking forward to all the new techniques I will learn and get to apply.
Brady Furey
Our newest technician Brady will focus on learning basic lab upkeep which will include maintaining lab stocks, autoclaving, and general lab maintenance. In time, his project will be to process our extensive tissue bank samples through OMNI ATAC.


Undergraduate Students

Benjamin Huan
Undergraduate Student at UNC with the Lineberger Partners Cancer Biology Program. Ben will be helping with the CHAMP study.


Administrative Assistant

Heather Solender
Tel:  (919)-962-2608


IBD Nurse Clinician

Christina M. Womble, RN, BSN
Tel: 919-537-3378
Fax: 919-843-6899