Liara Gonzalez Profile


Liara Gonzalez

Liara Gonzalez, DVM, PhD, DACVS

Assistant Professor of Gastroenterology and Equine Surgery


Liara Gonzalez is an expert in large animal surgery and gastrointestinal (GI) stem cell isolation and culture. Most recently, she and her team developed a porcine derived 3D stem cell culture model that recapitulates the GI epithelium to improve the translational potential of research that aids to better understand and improve mechanisms of GI repair.

Her interest in GI biology and disease stems from her large animal surgery residency at the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), where she specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of horses with ischemic disease. Recognizing the clinical limitations of treating the condition, she undertook a PhD in Comparative Biomedical Sciences to develop large animal models and study GI stem cell biology.

Since becoming an assistant professor in 2015, Gonzalez has focused on the translational impact of her work and improving GI repair in humans and animals. At present, she is examining the impact of ischemia on intestinal stem cells and understanding their contribution to reparative processes. More recent work has begun to study the immunological component of GI injury, which could improve the outcome of intestinal transplantation.

In the field of global health, her expertise in GI biology and immunology could help elucidate the role of the host epithelium and epithelial injury in acute diarrhea, one of the leading causes of childhood deaths in the world. This is particularly important in developing countries, where compromised epithelial barriers and altered intestinal microbiota are associated with malnutrition, poor sanitation and food insecurity.

Alongside her research, Gonzalez has participated in global health efforts since her DVM degree (2006, Cornell University).She has traveled throughout the central states of Mexico to work with small ruminants, and during her veterinary training she also traveled to India with an agricultural program to learn about land management, animal reproduction and water supply. Since 2015, she has also traveled to South Africa and Morocco with members of the GI group at CVM to improve healthcare for working equids.


Global Health Research Fields

  • Gastrointestinal (GI) disease and injury
  • GI epithelial function and repair
  • Global health education

Main Areas of Expertise

  • Detection of intestinal viability and improving epithelial healing
  • Development of 2D and 3D models of differentiated GI epithelium
  • Equine health and veterinary practice in underserved areas
  • GI stem cell isolation, storage and culture
  • Large animal surgery and large animal models

Global Health Research Interests

  • Development of 3D models of differentiated GI epithelium to facilitate translational study of GI diseases and infections
  • Diagnosis and treatment of colic in horses in underserved countries
  • Improving global healthcare for working equids 

Countries of Experience

  • Morocco 
  • South Africa

Ongoing Projects

  • Examining the immune-mediated response to GI epithelial injury
  • Exploring mechanisms of immune cell-mediated GI epithelial repair to improve the outcome of intestinal transplantation
  • Investigating the role of intestinal stem cells in repair of ischemic injured intestine
  • Investigating the role of the subepithelium and surrounding tissue on GI repair following injury

Network (collaborators)

Selected Publications

Gonzalez LM, Stewart, AS, Freund J, Kucera CR, Dekaney C, Magness ST, Blikslager AT. Preservation of Reserve Intestinal Epithelial Stem Cells following Ischemic Injury. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol (In Press). 

Ziegler AL, Pridgen TA, Mills JK, Gonzalez LM, Van Landeghem L, Odle J, Blikslager AT. Epithelial restitution defect in neonatal jejunum is rescued by juvenile mucosal homogenate in a pig model of intestinal ischemic injury and repair. PLoS ONE (In Press).

Stewart AS, Freund J, Blikslager AT, Gonzalez LM. Intestinal stem cell isolation and culture in a porcine model of segmental small intestinal ischemia. J Vis Exp 2018 May; 18:135. (Pubmed)

Gonzalez LM, Williamson I, Piedrahita JA, Blikslager AT, Magness ST. Development of a porcine model to study stem cell driven regeneration of the intestinal epithelium. PLoS ONE 2013; 8(6): e66465 (Pubmed)

View More Publications

Global Health Memberships

  • 2016-present   American Physiological Society
  • 2015-present   Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research
  • 2011-present   Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease (UNC-NC State)
  • 2010-present   American Gastroenterological Association
  • 2007-present   American College of Veterinary Surgeons
  • 2006-present   American Veterinary Medical Association
  • 2006-present   American Association of Equine Practitioners


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