Dr. Lightner got her B.A. in Human Biology from Stanford University in 2003 and then went to Boston University for medical school, graduating in 2008. She then conducted her general surgery training at the University of California, Los Angeles and post-doctoral work at Stanford University under a California Institute of Regenerative Medicine Training Grant focused on the differentiation pathways of embryonic stem cells.
She completed her surgical training with a Colon and Rectal Fellowship at Mayo Clinic, Rochester. She then stayed on staff as an Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Colon and Rectal Surgery Department at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.
Dr. Lightner has a special surgical and research interest in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Her research has largely revolved around the use of stem cell based therapies for the treatment of Crohn’s disease. She is now the primary investigator on five clinical trials and is growing her research laboratory in the development of novel engineered acellular and cellular therapies for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.
Due to her extensive research background in regenerative therapy, Dr. Lightner was recently named the Medical Director of the Translation, Implementation and Practice Platforms for the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Mayo Clinic, enterprise-wide. Thus, her time is split between operating, conducting research, and overseeing/directing clinical trials in the regenerative space enterprise-wide.
Dr. Lightner continues to be a leader in the academic space as a member of the editorial board of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, editorial board for Diseases of the Colon and Rectum, acting surgical chair for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation annual meeting, and the acting associate chair of the IBD committee within the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. In 2018, Dr. Lightner received the Sherman Emerging Leader Prize for Excellence in Crohn’s and Colitis for her innovative work and future potential.