Matthew A. Ciorba, MD


Assistant Professor of Medicine

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Research Interests

Along with colleagues we have used clinical databases and laboratory modeling to study the general fields of intestinal inflammation, injury repair and carcinogenesis. Our work is inspired by clinical interactions with patients affected by the human inflammatory bowel diseases and those patients who experience significant gastrointestinal side effects from radiotherapy induced bowel injury. The overarching goal of our research is to identify novel ways to improve life for patients enduring these illnesses. Translating our findings to human relevance is aided by our Division’s DDRCC clinical database and BioSpecimens.

A major focus of our current investigations are on a specific enzyme, Indoleamine 2,3 Dixoygenase1 (IDO), which has been demonstrated to have potent immune modulating capacity. Using animal models and other laboratory-based approaches we have identified IDO as an important regulator of the intestinal inflammatory response and as modifier of colitis associated cancer progression. IDO expression is increased in both human IBD and animal colitis models. Blocking this enzyme worsens inflammation while pharmacologic upregulation of intestinal IDO expression limits inflammation. Our investigations show that targeting of IDO may have therapeutic potential in both colitis and colitis associated cancer. This work is or has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIDDK) and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

A separate focus of the lab is to explore the role and mechanisms by which probiotic bacteria protect the intestinal epithelium from radiation injury. The small intestine is highly sensitive to radiation and is a major site of injury during radiation therapy. Diarrhea as a side effect is the limiting factor in dosing of radiation therapy for rectal cancer and other abdominal malignancies. There is a need for agents that could be given before radiation therapy to diminish radiation injury to the small intestine without decreasing the radiation sensitivity of the tumor. Our research suggests that certain lactobacillus probiotics and probiotic-derived products may be a useful prophylactic strategy to limit intestinal injury to humans during radiation therapy. Funding for this work came from the inaugural Global Probiotic Council’s Young Investigator Award. Click here for a link to news release.

Areas of Clinical Interest

Gastroenterology, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease

Board Certification

  • Internal Medicine — Certified
  • Gastroenterology — Certified

Medical Education

  • B.S.: Exercise Science, University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts, Iowa City, Iowa, 1996
  • M.D.: University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa, 2001
  • Residency: Internal Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, 2003
  • Fellowship: Gastroenterology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, 2007

Hospital Affiliations

  • Barnes-Jewish Hospital
  • Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital

Honors and Awards

  • NIH-NIAID/Mucosal Immunology Studies Team Consortium Young Investigator Award, 2013
  • Central Society for Clinical Research: Early Career Investigator Award, 2012
  • NIDDK Clinical Scientist Development Award (KO8), 2010
  • Global Probiotics Council Young Investigator Award, 2008
  • NIH:WUSM DDRCC Pilot and Feasibility Award, 2008
  • Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Career Development Award, 2007
  • TAP Pharmaceuticals/Washington University Research Award, 2006
  • AGA/Abbott Investing in the Future of IBD Award Recipient, 2005
  • American College of Gastroneterology/AstraZeneca Senior Fellow Award, 2002
  • Hoyt Family Award and Scholarship, 2001
  • William Wilson Award: Excellence in Research and Clinical Medicine, 2001


Dr. Ciorba joined the faculty and the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program in 2007. He came to Washington University for residency in Internal Medicine after medical school at the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine. He was selected as Washington University’s Chief Medical Resident at the John Cochrane VA Hospital before completing gastroenterology fellowship training through Washington University and Barnes Jewish Hospital. Additional fellowship training was gained from the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. His clinical practice and research activities are both centered on the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. He has a particular interest in the potential application of Probiotic based therapies in intestinal disorders.

“My main clinical focus is to provide comprehensive, personalized care to patients affected by one of the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD), including Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. I strive to optimize the individual patient’s overall well being and reduce the need for surgery by using an evidence based approach to currently available IBD medications. Moreover, patients in my clinic have the opportunity to participate in new trial based therapeutics available through our IBD Program. I also provide clinical care for general luminal gastroenterology conditions and enjoy participating in the educational mission at several levels throughout the medical school.”


View Matthew Ciorba’s research publications on PubMed »