Milena Saqui-Salces

Assistant Professor-Gastrointestinal Physiology
495K AnSc/VetMed
1988 Fitch Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108-6014
+1 612 624 4277


  • Post-doctorate, University of Michigan - Physiopathology of the GI Tract
  • Ph.D., Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) - Biological Science
  • B.S., Instituto Technologico de Veracruz - Biochemical Engineering

Research Interests

It is often said that we are what we eat. Understanding how diet can affect physiology is my main research interest. To study the mechanisms by which diets modulate the function of the gastrointestinal tract we use in vitro and in vivo models. Our in vivo models are based on feeding animals with different diets, nutritional supplements or novel feed ingredients to evaluate how these nutritional manipulations change the epithelial cell composition, local immune response, expression of nutrient sensing molecules and hormone secretion of the digestive tract. We also use cell lines and enteroids (intestinal organoids or “mini-guts”) as in vitro models to understand the mechanisms of action of specific nutrients. We are also using swine enteroids as a model to study bacterial pathogens that cause disease in pigs. I believe that understanding the effects nutrients have on the function of the intestine will help us design better and healthier diets to improve human and animal lives.

Because research is better in collaboration, I am part of the Integrated Animal Systems Biology team.

Ongoing studies in my laboratory include:

  • Effect of dietary fiber on intestinal cell differentiation and digestive function
  • Effect of high fiber diets on the local intestinal immune response
  • Effects of organic and inorganic zinc sources on the intestinal epithelium function
  • Effects of diet viscosity on nutrient digestibility, intestinal cell differentiation, mucin production, and nutrient transporters in the swine intestine
  • Use of swine enteroids as in vitro model of normal and pathological gastrointestinal physiology
  • Use of enteroids to define the mechanisms of Lawsonia intracellularis pathogenesis


  • CFAN 3091V: Research Proposals – From Ideas to Strategic Plans (V: Honors + Writing intensive, Fall)
  • ANSC 5091: Research Proposals – From Ideas to Strategic Plans (Graduate level, Fall)
  • ANSC 5626/NUTR 5626: Nutritional Physiology (Spring)
  • ANSC 1901: The journal of food in your body (Fall)
  • HCOL 3101H and 3102H: Honors thesis – development and Honors thesis – writing (Spring and Fall)

Honors & Awards

  • 2019 – Above and Beyond Award, Department of Animal Science, University of Minnesota
  • 2018 - Award for Faculty Contribution to Honors Education
  • 2017 - Team Achievement Award, Animal Systems Biology Team, Department of Animal Science, University of Minnesota
  • 2009 - Poster of distinction Digestive Diseases Week. Title: IL-1b induces specific gastric mucous cell differentiation and proliferation.
  • 2009 - Poster of distinction Digestive Diseases Week. Title: Gastric epithelial cell express primary cilia.
  • 2007 - Canifarma Award to Clinical Research (Mexico). Title: Deteccion temprana de lesiones intraepiteliales cervicales de bajo y alto grado (Early detection of low and high grade intraepithelial lesions of the cervix). Authors: Ortíz-Arce C, Montante-Montes D, Saqui-Salces M, Hinojosa L, Hernández-Gallegos E, Gamboa-Domínguez A, Pardo L, Stúhmer W, Camacho, J.
  • 2006 - PhD, graduated with Honor mention, UNAM, Mexico.

Dr. Milena Saqui-Salces