Michael D. Gershon, MD

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Pathology & Cell Biology
Michael D. Gershon, MD

Michael D. Gershon, Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology, has been called the “father of neurogastroenterology” because, in addition to his seminal work on neuronal control of gastrointestinal (GI) behavior and development of the enteric nervous system (ENS), his classic trade book, The Second Brain, has made physicians, scientists, and the lay public aware of the significance of the unique ability of the ENS to regulate GI activity in the absence of input from the brain and spinal cord. Dr. Gershon has published almost 400 peer-reviewed papers. Major contributions, which have relevance to disorders of GI motility, including irritable bowel syndrome, include identification of serotonin as a GI neurotransmitter and the initial observation in the gut of intrinsic sensory nerve cells that trigger propulsive motor activity. Dr. Gershon also discovered that the serotonin transporter (SERT) is expressed by enterocytes (cells that line the lumen of the gut) as well as by enteric neurons and is critical in the termination of serotonin-mediated effects. Dr. Gershon has identified roles in GI physiology that specific subtypes of serotonin receptor play and he has provided evidence that serotonin is not only a neurotransmitter and a paracrine factor that initiates motile and secretory reflexes, but also as a hormone that affects bone resorption and inflammation. He has called serotonin “a sword and shield of the bowel” because it is simultaneously proinflammatory and neuroprotective. Mucosal serotonin triggers inflammatory responses that oppose microbial invasion, while neuronal serotonin protects the ENS from the damage that inflammation would otherwise cause. Neuron-derived serotonin also mobilizes precursor cells, which are present in the adult gut, to initiate the genesis of new neurons, an adult function that reflects a similar essential activity of early-born serotonergic neurons in late fetal and early neonatal life to promote development of late-born sets of enteric neurons. Dr. Gershon has made many additional contributions to ENS development, including the identification of necessary guidance molecules, adhesion proteins, growth and transcription factors; his observations suggest that defects that occur late in ENS development lead to subtle changes in GI physiology that may contribute to the pathogenesis of functional bowel disorders. More recently, Drs. Michael and Anne Gershon have demonstrated that varicella zoster virus (VZV) infects, becomes latent, and reactivates in enteric neurons, including those of humans. They have demonstrated that “enteric zoster (shingles)” occurs and may thus be an unexpected cause of a variety of gastrointestinal disorders, the pathogenesis of which is currently unknown.

Email: mdg4@cumc.columbia.edu

Departments and Divisions

  • Department of Pathology & Cell Biology

Education and Training

  • MD, 1963 Medicine, Cornell University Medical Center, NY
  • Fellowship: 1966 Oxford University (United Kingdom)

Centers / Institutes / Programs

  • Institute of Human Nutrition

Lab Locations

  • William Black Building

    650 West 168th Street
    1422
    New York, NY 10032
    Phone:
    (212) 305-3447
    Email:
    mdg4@cumc.columbia.edu

Contact Info

  • (212) 305-3447

Past Positions

Cornell University Medical College, Department of Anatomy:

1966-69, Assistant Professor

1969-75, Associate Professor

July 1975 - September 1975, Professor

Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons,

October 1975 - 2006, Professor and Chairman, Anatomy & Cell Biology

July 2006- Professor, Pathology & Cell Biology

 

Teaching Responsibilities

Formerly course director: Science Basic to the Practice of Medicine.

Currently Co-director: Molecular Mechanisms and Disease-Block 1, Basic Biomolecules and Cells.  Present many lectures in this section, developed a novel Professor's Rounds, in which students are led in socratic fashion to diagnosis and treatment of a clinical problem using only the basic information they have learned in current studies.  

GI Anatomy, Physiology, and Developmental Biology, in The Body in Health and Disease.

Committees / Societies / Memberships

  • Association of Anatomy Chairman (President 1985-86)
  • American Association of Anatomists (President 1995-6)
  • American Gastroenterological Association (Chairman, section on motility 1996)
  • American Society for Cell Biology
  • American Physiological Society
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • The Endocrine Society
  • The Society for Neuroscience
  • New York Society for Electron Microscopists (President 1977-78)
  • New York Academy of Sciences
  • International Society for Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cajal Club (President 1994)
  • American Society for Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics
  • The Harvey Society
  • Society for Developmental Biology

Other Positions:

Member NIH Study Sections, Neurological Disorder Program Project

  • Review Committee B, NINCDS 1973-75; Neurology A, 1980-84;
  • Clinical and Integrative Gastrointestinal Pathobiology 2007-2009; Clinical Integrative and Molecular Gastroenterology 2009-2011.

Member, Editorial Boards:

  • Past: Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry; Neurochemistry International; Am. J. Physiol.; J. Comp. Neurol.
  • Present: Clinical Medicine: Gastroenterology; Synapse; Journal of Neurobiology; J. Auton. Nerv. Syst., J Neurogastroent. Mot.; Cell and Tissue Research; Gene Expression; International Journal of Tryptophan Research
  • Member External Advisory Committee, CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center, University of California, Los Angeles, 1996-present
  • Member, Cure Autism New (CAN) Scientific Advisory Bd. 1997-present
  • Member, March of Dimes, Study Section

Honors and Awards

  • Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Epsilon Delta, and Phi Kappa Phi Honorary Societies
  • Polk Prize for undergraduate research, 1961.
  • Alpha Omega Alpha Honorary Medical Society, 1962, and President in 1963
  • Borden Undergraduate Research Prize, 1963
  • Polk Prize for highest academic standing, 1963
  • Sigma Xi
  • Markle Foundation Scholar in Academic Medicine, 1968
  • N.Y.C. Health Research Council Career Scientist Award, 1970
  • Grass Foundation Visiting Professor, 1981.
  • American Gastroenterological Association Council on Nerves and the Gut.
  • University of Rochester Outstanding Neuroscientist, 1983
  • Jacob Javits Award, National Institutes of Health, 1985
  • Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award, Columbia University 1985
  • Camilio Golgi Medal: Fidia Research Foundation, 1986
  • State of the Art Lecture, American Gastroenterological Association, 1986
  • Association of Anatomy Chairman Tousimis Prize for Outstanding Research and contributions to the field of Anatomy
  • Medal of Francis I, Collège de France, 1990
  • Chair FASEB GI Conf. IV, 1991
  • Guest Editor, Special issue on The Neural Crest, J. Neurobiol. 1993
  • Cajal Club, President, 1994
  • American Association of Anatomists, President, 1995
  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (elected 1999)
  • The Henry Grey Prize (Highest award given by the American Association of Anatomists (2000)
  • Charles W. Bohmfalk Teaching Award, Columbia Univ. (2005)
  • American Association of Anatomists Fellow (2007)
  • Fourth Annual Charles F. Code Lecture, Mayo Clinic (2007)
  • American Gastroenterological Association Fellow (2008)
  • American Gastroenterological Association Masters Award for Sustained Achievement in Digestive Sciences (2008)
  • Horace Davenport Lecturer, American Physiological Society, Gastrointestinal Section (2010)
  • Rome Foundation Lecturer, American Gastroenterological Society, DDW (2011)
  • Elected to American Clinical and Climatological Association (2011)

Research Interests

  • Cell Specification and Differentiation
  • Cellular/Molecular/Developmental Neuroscience
  • Synapses and Circuits

NIH Grants

  • AUTOIMMUNE FEATURES OF NEURODEGENERATIVE DISORDERS (Federal Gov)

    Sep 30 2018 - Jul 31 2023

    MICROENVIRONMENT IN ENTERIC NEURON DEVELOPMENT (Federal Gov)

    Jan 1 2018 - Dec 31 2022

    MODELING ENTERIC NERVOUS SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT AND HIRSCHSPRUNG S DISEASE IN HUMAN PLURIPOTENT STEM CELLS (Federal Gov)

    Sep 30 2016 - Jun 30 2021

    VZV IN THE ENS: PATHOGENESIS AND CONSEQUENCES (Federal Gov)

    Mar 1 2017 - Feb 28 2021

    DIFFERENTIATING RADIO-SENSITIVITIES AMONG INTESTINAL STEM CELL POOLS (Federal Gov)

    Sep 15 2014 - Aug 31 2019

    DIFFERENTIATING RADIO-SENSITIVITIES AMONG INTESTINAL STEM CELL POOLS (Federal Gov)

    Sep 15 2014 - Aug 31 2019

    MICROENVIRONMENT IN ENTERIC NEURON DEVELOPMENT (Federal Gov)

    Dec 1 1979 - May 31 2017

    QUIESCENT DCLK1+ STEM CELLS IN THE MOUSE INTESTINE (Federal Gov)

    Sep 1 2013 - May 31 2017

    MICROENVIRONMENT IN ENTERIC NEURON DEVELOPMENT (Federal Gov)

    Dec 1 1979 - May 31 2017

    MICROENVIRONMENT IN ENTERIC NEURON DEVELOPMENT (Federal Gov)

    Dec 1 1979 - May 31 2017

    ROLE OF NEURONS IN THE DEVELOPMENT AND PROGRESSION OF PANCREATIC CANCER (Private)

    Jan 1 2013 - Dec 31 2016

    VZV IN THE ENTERIC NERVOUS SYSTEM: PATHOGENESIS AND CONSEQUENCES (Federal Gov)

    Aug 1 2011 - Jul 31 2016

    QUIESCENT DCLK1+ STEM CELLS IN THE MOUSE INTESTINE (Federal Gov)

    Sep 1 2013 - May 31 2016

    RET RECEPTOR TYROSINE JINASE SIGNALING IN THE POSTNATAL AND ADULT ENTERIC NERVOUS SYSTEM (Private)

    Feb 16 2015 - Feb 16 2016

    PRUCALOPRIDE-MEDIATED NEUROPROTECTION AND NEUROGENESIS IN THE ENTERIC NERVOUS SYSTEM (Private)

    Dec 4 2012 - Dec 3 2014

    NEURAL CONTROL OF GASTROINTESTINAL ACTIVITY (Federal Gov)

    Dec 1 1977 - Apr 30 2013

    ENTERIC 5-HT4 NEURODEGENERATION INVIVO (Private)

    Oct 30 2006 - Oct 29 2009

    VARICELLA-ZOSTER VIRUS--RECEPTORS AND INFECTIVE MECHANISMS (Federal Gov)

    Dec 1 1989 - Mar 31 2009

    ENETRIC5-HT RECEPTORS: LOCATION, FUNCTION AND ACTIVATION BY TEGASROD (Private)

    Oct 1 2002 - Nov 30 2007

    ENETRIC5-HT RECEPTORS: LOCATION, FUNCTION AND ACTIVATION BY TEGASROD (Private)

    Oct 1 2002 - Nov 30 2007

    EFFECT OF COMPOUNDS ON ENTERIC NERVOUS SYSTEM (Private)

    Jun 20 2006 - Jun 30 2007

    PATHOBIOLOGY OF GASTROINTESTINAL INFECTION AND INFLAMATION (Federal Gov)

    Feb 1 2001 - Jan 31 2007

Publications

Gershon, M.D. (1998). The Second Brain., Harper Collins, New York, N.Y., pp. 1-312.1

Gershon MD. Serotonin is a sword and a shield of the bowel: serotonin plays offense and defense. Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 2012;123:268-80; discussion PubMed PMID: 23303993; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3540639.

Gershon MD. 5-Hydroxytryptamine (serotonin) in the gastrointestinal tract. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2013 Feb;20(1):14-21. doi: 10.1097/MED.0b013e32835bc703. PubMed PMID: 23222853.

Chen JJ, Gershon AA, Li Z, Cowles RA, Gershon MD. Varicella zoster virus (VZV) infects and establishes latency in enteric neurons. J Neurovirol. 2011 Dec;17(6):578-89. Epub 2011 Dec 22. PubMed PMID: 22190254; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3324263.

Karsenty G, Gershon MD (2011) The importance of the gastrointestinal tract in the control of bone mass accrual. Gastroenterology 141:439-442.

Li Z, Chalazonitis A, Huang YY, Mann JJ, Margolis KG, Yang QM, Kim DO, Cote F, Mallet J, Gershon MD. (2011) Essential roles of enteric neuronal serotonin in gastrointestinal motility and the development/survival of enteric dopaminergic neurons. Journal of Neuroscience 31:8998-9009.

For a complete list of publications, please visit PubMed.gov