Elisa Boden, MD

Affiliate Investigator
Office Phone: 
(206) 287-5646

Background Information

Dr. Boden received her undergraduate degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University. She graduated with honors from University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine followed by a residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and specialty training in gastroenterology at Massachusetts General Hospital. As a gastroenterology fellow, she worked in the laboratory of Dr. Scott Snapper studying oral tolerance and regulatory T cell (Treg) development in models of colitis. Following her fellowship, she received advanced clinical and research training as the Present-Levison fellow in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) at Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York. She worked in the laboratory of Dr. Lloyd Mayer studying Tregs in human inflammatory bowel disease and developing assays to test oral tolerance in human subjects. Dr. Boden is a member of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center of Excellence at Virginia Mason Medical Center and an affiliate clinical instructor of medicine at the University of Washington.

Area of Research

Dr. Boden studies the mechanisms that restrain intestinal inflammation in health and how defects in immune regulation lead to diseases including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and celiac disease. 

The intestinal mucosa provides the largest surface area of contact with the external environment and is a major portal of entry for pathogens. However, the intestinal lumen must also play host to a myriad of food and commensal microbial antigens. Under homeostatic conditions, systemic immune responses to orally delivered antigens are actively suppressed in a phenomenon called “oral tolerance.” Breakdown in the tolerant state to food antigens and intestinal microbiota is thought to initiate inflammation associated with celiac disease and IBD respectively. Dr. Boden is interested in understanding the factors that impact the decision to initiate immunity or tolerance to antigens presented to gastrointestinal immune system. Ongoing projects include identification and characterization of T cells from research participants with inflammatory diseases of the intestines that have lost tolerance to food and bacterial antigens as well as the study of oral tolerance in model systems. We believe that a detailed understanding of the events that result in oral tolerance will provide clues regarding the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases of the bowel that will direct future therapeutic targets.