Dr. Ma is Director of the UCSF IBD Center and Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology.
He oversees translational and basic research in IBD and related inflammatory diseases.
Their lab studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying inflammation and cancer. They have focused upon a subset of ubiquitin regulating proteins that play dominant roles in prevent inflammation and cancer. A20 and several biochemically related binding partners are potent regulators of ubiquitination and disease. These proteins exert several biochemical functions to (1) prevent inflammatory diseases and cancer in human patients; (2) prevent inflammation and cancer in mice; (3) restrict NFB signaling and immune cell activation; (4) restrict inflammasome activation; (5) prevent multiple forms of cell death; and (6) preserve tissue integrity. Patients born with haploinsufficient A20 genes develop early onset inflammatory diseases. Ongoing studies utilize genetic engineering, cell signaling, and mass spectrometry techniques to unravel the mechanisms by which A20 and related proteins regulate ubiquitin dependent signals and tissue homeostasis. They have recently generated a series of A20 knock-in mice to dissect the biochemical mechanisms by which A20 performs these critical functions. Translational research in the laboratory seeks to align insights from biochemical and mouse based biology with the biology of human peripheral blood cells and intestinal tissues. These efforts should improve our understanding of human disease subtypes and ultimately develop novel approaches of treating inflammatory and malignant diseases.