As a practicing pediatric surgeon, Dr. Besner is often confronted with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) at the bedside. Having to tell a mother that there is only a 50% chance that their baby will survive an operation for NEC is heartbreaking. A novel probiotic biofilm delivery system developed by Dr. Besner and her collaborators holds great promise for protecting babies from NEC.


  • MD: University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
  • Residency: Brigham & Women’s Hospital, General Surgery
  • Fellowship: Boston Children’s Hospital, Surgical Research
  • Fellowship: Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, Pediatric Surgery Fellowship

Research Interests

  • Protection of the intestines from injury using novel probiotic delivery systems
  • Growth factors
  • Stem cells
  • Production of tissue engineered intestine

General Research

Dr. Gail Besner's primary research began in 1990 with the identification of the growth factor "heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor" (HB-EGF). The long range goal of this research is to determine whether or not HB-EGF could be used in therapies to protect and treat intestinal damage in high-risk neonates. Her studies have shown that HB-EGF's anti-inflammatory effects and chemical properties play a vital role in the regenerating of intestinal cells after they have been damaged. Lab research has shown that HB-EGF can protect the intestine from damage caused by hemorrhagic shock, blood supply restriction and necrotizing enterocolitis. Clinical studies are on the horizon to further test HB-EGF as a treatment option.

PubMed articles  Clinical profile  Center for Perinatal Research