McMaster University

Medical Sciences
Graduate Program

Scope of Search


Elyanne Ratcliffe

Elyanne Ratcliffe


Assistant Professor

Research Interests

Investigations of normal and abnormal development of the extrinsic innervation of the gut

My research is focused on determining how, during ontogeny, vagal and sacral nerves find their targets in the bowel and on examining whether developmental abnormalities of this innervation contribute to the pathogenesis of disorders of gastrointestinal motility.



These studies employ a variety of techniques in molecular biology, including:

  1. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
  2. Reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR)
  3. Quantitative PCR and in situ hybridization



Histological methods include:

  1. Tissue sectioning
  2. Immunocytochemistry
  3. Microscopy (light and fluorescence)
  4. Image analysis.



Experiments in tissue culture involve maintenance of cell lines and primary cultures of explanted tissue. Animal work includes in-bred strains and several lines of transgenic mice. I am a member of the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute and collaborate with members of the Brain-Body Institute (BBI).


McMaster University
Health Sciences Centre

telephone: (905) 521-2100 ext. 73455


Program Area

Physiology & Pharmacology


Research Focus

Developmental Programming. Innervation of the Gastrointestinal Tract, Pediatric Gastroenterology

Selected Publications

  • Of the bugs that shape us: maternal obesity, the gut microbiome, and long-term disease risk.

    Gohir W, Ratcliffe EM, Sloboda DM. Pediatr Res. 2014 Oct 14. doi: 10.1038/pr.2014.169. [Epub ahead of print] Review.

  • Intestinal microbiota influence the early postnatal development of the enteric nervous system.

    Collins J, Borojevic R, Verdu EF, Huizinga JD, Ratcliffe EM. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2014 Jan;26(1):98-107. doi: 10.1111/nmo.12236. Epub 2013 Oct 8.

  • Slit/Robo-mediated chemorepulsion of vagal sensory axons in the fetal gut. Goldberg D, Borojevic R, Anderson M, Chen JJ, Gershon MD, Ratcliffe EM. Dev Dyn. 2013 Jan;242(1):9-15. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.23898. Epub 2012 Dec 4.