PFDD Faculty Fellows Alumni - 2009





Camilia R. Martin, MD, MS, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; Attending Neonatologist; Associate Director, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Mentor: Steven D. Freedman, MD, PhD, Chief of the Division of Translational Research and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Director, The Pancreas Center

Department Chair: DeWayne M. Pursley, MD, MPH, Assistant in Medicine; Neonatologist-in-Chief, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School

Title of Research Project: Fat Malabsorption, Bacterial Colonization, and Intestinal Injury in the Preterm Infant


Fat malabsorption, bacterial colonization, and intestinal injury in the preterm infant

Abnormal bacterial colonization has been proposed as one potential mechanism for the development of necrotizing enterocolitis, an inflammatory disease of the bowel that primarily affects preterm infants.  The goals of this project are to identify the environmental and nutritional factors that influence bacterial colonization and to characterize the mechanisms by which bacterial colonization modulates intestinal inflammation.

We hypothesize that (1) impaired fatty acid metabolism explains the differences in bacterial colonization profiles due to diet (formula versus breast milk) and gestational age (pancreatic insufficiency in the preterm infant) and (2) bacterial colonization profiles dominated by pathogenic organisms contribute to intestinal inflammation.

This project is a prospective, cohort study of infants born at ≤ 32 weeks’ gestation.  A review of maternal-infant clinical data and serial collection of dietary, serum, and fecal samples will be conducted for each infant.  Dietary and fecal samples will be analyzed for total fat and specific fatty acid analysis by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.  Fecal bacterial colonization profiles will be identified using PCR analysis of 16S ribosomal DNA.  Intestinal inflammation will be determined by ELISA analysis of serum and stool inflammatory markers. 

The goals of this study will be accomplished through multidisciplinary collaborations with neonatology (PI); Steven D. Freedman MD, PhD, an Associate Professor of Medicine and adult gastroenterologist with expertise in pancreatic function and fatty acid metabolism; and, Bruce Paster PhD, the Director of the Forsyth Microbial Identification Microarray service at the Forsyth Dental Institute and a world expert in analysis of bacterial species in disease states.


Camilla Martin holds a former appointment as Instructor in Pediatrics and is an Attending Neonatologist and the Associate Director of NICU at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Her clinical and translational research focuses on the Fat Malabsorption, Bacterial Colonization, and Intestinal Injury in the Preterm Infant, and will involve collaboration between BIDMC and Harvard Catalyst.