Centre for Inflammation Research

Dr Gwo-tzer Ho

Research Theme in a Nutshell: Science to medicine: Inflammatory triggers to tissue repair in IBD.

Dr Gwo-tzer Ho

Principal Investigator and Honorary Consultant Gastroenterologist

  • Centre for Inflammation Research

Contact details


Research Theme in a Nutshell:

Science to medicine: Inflammatory triggers to Tissue Repair in IBD

My research is focused on two main questions:

1.  What are the molecular factors that drive and maintain the abnormal musocal inflammation in Crohn's Disease (CD) and Ulcerative Colitis (UC)?

2.  How do we translate this understanding to develop new, and to improve current, medical treatments for CD and UC?

Group Members

  • Bill Brownlee (Postdoctoral Scientist)
  • Lisa Derr (MARVEL Trial Manager)
  • Broc Drury (Research Assistant)
  • Lena Fischer (Postdoctoral Scientist)
  • Doirrean Gordon (iCASE PhD Student)
  • Gareth-Rhys Jones (Senior Clinical Research Fellow)
  • Rahul Kalla (Senior Clinical Research Fellow)
  • Milly McAllister (Postdoctoral Scientist)
  • Ross Porter (AF Research Fellow)
  • Emily Thompson (PhD Student)
  • Jila Nazari (Data Science Manager)

Edinburgh IBD Science Group

  • Calum Bain (Centre for Inflammation Research, CIR)
  • Susan Bodie (Business Development, BQ4)
  • David Dorward (Department of Pathology, RIE)
  • Ian Dransfield (CIR)
  • Emily Gwyer Findlay (CIR)
  • Paul Henderson (RHSC)
  • Kris Mcguire (CIR and Patient and Public Involvement Representative)
  • Neil Mabbott (Roslin Institute)
  • Adriano Rossi (CIR)
  • Silke Salavati (Roslin Institute)
  • Craig Stevens (Napier University)
  • Emily Thomson (CIR and PhD representative)
  • Marc Vendrell (CIR)
  • David Wilson (Royal Hospital of Sick Children, RHSC)
  • Chengcan Yao (CIR)

Our friendly group meets every 3-4 months to discuss collaborative ideas and scientific data. Please contact if interested in joining.


Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) are common chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) with significant impact on morbidity, mortality and socio-economic costs. The global prevalence is increasing sharply with projected global disease burden of 20-30 million IBD cases by 2025. Present best therapies are based on the narrow principle of inhibiting downstream inflammatory pathways (eg, cytokines and inflammatory cell migration). Complete mucosal healing (total resolution of inflammation and restoration of full mucosal restitution) however, is achieved only in 50% in our best treatment. My work is focused on identifying and developing novel therapeutic approaches in IBD.

Research Overview

My overarching research aim is to translate new knowledge of immune and inflammatory mucosal mechanisms into new therapeutic approaches in IBD. I work very closely with dedicated IBD clinicians, biologists, immunologists and drug development teams with a strong focus on direct studies on human IBD along with in vivo colitis work. Major mechanistic themes are:

  1. Gut derived mucosal damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs)
  2. Mitochondrial dysfunction and ROS-signalling
  3. Metabolic programing of the mucosal immune response

Current projects

GI-DAMPs (CCUK-Genentech-Guts Charity UK): We seek to understand how mitochondrial DAMPs are released and how they activate the downstream inflammatory pathways (TLR9 and FPR1). We aim to find new therapeutic targets to accelerate the resolution of inflammation as an adjunct to current immune-suppressive treatments (@GI-DAMPs).

MARVEL (Jon Moulton Foundation): Mitochondrial antioxidant therapy to resolve inflammation in Ulcerative colitis (MARVEL) trial, a national randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial using oral MitoQ (starting August 2019). Building from our scientific work, we are setting up a Phase II trial to test the potential of mitochondrial protective therapy in human IBD.

MUSIC (Helmley Charitable Trust): Mitochondrial DAMPs as mechanistic biomarkers of mucosal inflammation in Crohn's disease. We aim to translate DAMPs signals as stratifying approach to future new therapies in CD.

Defining gut macrophage heterogeneity in CD (Wellcome Trust/ECCO): Using transcriptomics and epigenomic profiling approach as the first step to define the immune-metabolism of macrophage during inflammation and repair in Crohn's disease.

Biographical Overview

I trained in Medicine in Glasgow (MBChB 1997 and MRCP 2000), and moved to Edinburgh to undertake my PhD with Jack Satsangi (2000-2003). I completed my specialty training in gastroenterology and internal medicine in Edinburgh (2003-2008) and was awarded an MRC Clinician Scientist Fellowship award (2009-2015). During this time, I trained under Balfour Sartor in University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA (2009-2010) focusing on mucosal immunology in IBD, and moved to the MRC Centre for Inflammation Research in 2011 to establish my laboratory here.

I continue to care for individuals with IBD at the Western General Hospital and I lead the Edinburgh IBD Science Group (@Edin_IBDScience), a multidisciplinary group of researchers and scientists in Edinburgh with an aim to translate our scientific work into new treatments in IBD.

Bowel disease study points to new therapies for lifelong conditions – Dr Gwo-tzer Ho’s recent study discussed on BBC Radio Scotland, May 2018 

Mitochondrial DNA as ancient danger signals in IBD – Dr Gwo-tzer Ho's interview for Inflammatory Bowel Disease journal, February 2018

Could the cause of inflammation be in our own cells? – Dr Gwo-tzer Ho's work in Crohn's and Colitis UK 10-year Research Report

Precision Medicine in Inflammatory Bowel Disease – American Journal of Gastroenterology interview with Editor Professor Lacy

Gene that affects cell power supply may hold key to bowel disease – Interview with Mhairi Stuart, BBC Scotland Radio and STV News (May 2017)

Faulty energy supply and leaky gut – a new potential cause for IBD – Press coverage (Times, Scotsman, Daily Mail +15 other national and international media

Honours and Awards

  • 2016  Fellow of Royal College of Physicians (Edinburgh)
  • 2009  Medical Research Council Clinician Scientist Fellowship
  • 2008  United European Gastroenterology Rising Star Award
  • 2007  British Society of Gastroenterology CORE Research Prize
  • 2006  European Crohn's and Colitis Organization (ECCO) Researcher Award for UK
  • 2004-6  American Gastroenterology Association Abstracts of Distinction (3 awards)


  • Dr Ray Boyapati (2015-2017): Consultant Gastroenterologist, Melbourne
  • Dr Arina Tamborska (2016): Academic Fellow, King’s College London


  • Professor Adriano Rossi/David Dorward
  • Professor Ian Dransfield/Emily Findlay
  • Dr Marc Vendrell
  • Dr Robert Gray
  • Dr Calum Bain
  • Professor David Wilson
  • Professor William Agace, Lund University, Denmark

  • Professor Balfour Sartor: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA
  • Professor Jack Satsangi: University of Oxford, UK


Sources of Funding

More information on funding at Gwo-Tzer Ho's Research Explorer profile.