Katie Garman, MD receives Borden Scholar Award

Katie Garman, MD is the 2019 recipient of the Borden Scholar award. This award is made possible by a generous gift from Dr. and Mrs. Ernest and Louise Borden (Duke Medical and Nursing School alumni). The gift is a one-year award that allows selected DMPI faculty to test new, emergent ideas with translational implications for which alternative sources of funding are not yet available.

Dr. Garman's project “Role of CCKAR signaling in the Pathogenesis of Barrett’s Esophagus” will explore preventive strategies for Barrett's esophagus, a metaplastic condition associated with esophageal adenocarcinoma. Visceral obesity is a known risk factor for Barrett's esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma, but the mechanism through which obesity might increase the risk of esophageal disease remains incompletely understood. Much of the previous work in the Garman lab has focused on esophageal submucosal glands as a protected stem and progenitor cell niche. In some patients, they have observed esophageal submucosal glands surrounded by adipose cells. In prostate, an amplification loop has been described between adipose cells, CCK signaling, and proliferation of cancer stem cells. They were curious if similar signaling might be active in the esophagus and were thus particularly interested to find the CCK receptor expressed in both Barrett's esophagus as well as in spheroids created from esophageal submucosal glands in 3D culture.

In discussing her project, Dr. Garman said, “The Borden Scholar Award will enable us to more comprehensively determine where the CCK receptor is expressed in both normal and diseased esophagus, including in the submucosal glands. Then using our cell culture system, we will determine the effects of active vs inhibited CCK signaling on different populations of esophageal cells (via single cell RNA sequencing). We hope that these results will lead to new preventive strategies.”