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  Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

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GI News


Honors and Awards

Young IBD Researchers Win Big at DOM Research Day

Mentored by Dr. David Binion from the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, two young researchers earned Clinical Research Awards at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Medicine’s Research Day in May 2018. Sumedha Chablani, MD explored the relationship between Crohn’s disease and small bowel cancers, and Kelly Gibbs, MD conducted research on connections between IBD and hypertension.
   
  Dr Sumedha Chablani Dr Kelly Gibbs  

 

IBD Connect Founders Honored at Crohn’s & Colitis Annual Luncheon
Randi Sigal and Pamela Wein-Levy, the founders and volunteers of IBD Connect, were honored at the WPA/WV Chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation Women of Distinction Luncheon on April 27, 2018  for their outstanding support of IBD patients and patient advocacy. 

Ms. Shelton’s Research Wins Top Honors
Celeste Shelton, MS won the first place, school-wide doctoral level award for her Dean’s Day poster at the Graduate School of Public Health.  Her poster was titled, “Classification of Pancreatitis Subtypes Using RNA-Seq from Human Pancreatic Tissue”.  Ms. Shelton is a PhD candidate in Human Genetics and a T-32 research trainee with the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. 

Dr. Phillips Receives Prestigious Young Researcher Award
Anna Evans Phillips, MD, Advanced Clinical Pancreatology Fellow with the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, has received a $50,000 2017 American Pancreatic Association / APA Foundation Young Investigator in Pancreatitis Grant Program award for her application, “The Role of Quantitative Sensory Testing in Painful Chronic Pancreatitis.”  This is the inaugural cycle for this APA / APA Foundation grant, and Dr. Phillips’ study is one of 20 applications submitted.  Three total grants were selected as part of this competitive process.

Dr. Khalid Receives VAMC Chief of Staff Clinical Excellence Award
Asif Khalid, MD is the recipient of the Veterans Administration Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS) January 2018 Chief of Staff Clinical Excellence Award.  Dr. Khalid was nominated for this honor by Apunupa Sharma, MD, who is pictured with him here.  Dr. Sharma is a lung cancer specialist, and they have collaborated to treat many patients.  Dr. Khalid is the chief of Gastroenterology and Hepatology for VAPHS and also serves as an associate professor of medicine with the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.  He specializes in upper endoscopy procedures, particularly EUS of the pancreas and upper-GI tract.

UPMC GI in the Top 10 Again: US News & World Report
The Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition has been ranked as the 6th Best Hospital for Adult Gastroenterology and GI Surgery in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.  This ranking is a fitting tribute to the successful work of our gastroenterology and hepatology medical professionals, our surgery partners, the terrific patients, and all who work to support gastrointestinal health in western Pennsylvania and throughout the U.S."

GI Fellows in National Spotlight
Two UPMC Gastroenterology Fellows received travel awards for national annual meetings this year.  Dr. Mohannad Dugum received a travel grant to attend the Annual Rocky Mountain Interventional Endoscopy Course in Colorado.  Dr. Siobhan Proksell received a travel grant to attend DDW 2017 from the Cornerstones educational group.

Dr. Szigethy Lauded with Inaugural Sherman Prize
Eva Szigethy, MD, PhD was awarded a $100,000 Sherman Prize for her work to develop psychosocial care models for IBD patients.  Dr. Szigethy was honored with this recognition during the Bruce & Cindy Sherman Foundation's inaugural prize year.  The Sherman Prize in Crohn's and Colitis rewards the delivery of excellent care and seeks to honor efforts which are not only life-changing for patients but duplicative among the IBD physician and medical professional community.

Division’s Pancreas Center Receives NIH Grant
The Pancreas & Biliary Center of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition has received a National Institutes of Health U01 Award to participate in the Consortium for the Study of Pancreatitis. This five-year project will support pancreas research advancements. David Whitcomb, MD, PhD is the PI for this Pittsburgh Clinical Center.

GI Fellows Earn Recognition
We are proud to honor the achievements of the following UPMC Gastroenterology Fellows:

Dr. Levinthal Receives AGA Research Honor
David Levinthal, MD, PhD has been selected as a member of the inaugural AGA Future Leaders class. He is one of 18 inductees nationwide who will receive extensive scientific and leadership training designed to help him to assume and maintain key leadership roles in the field of gastroenterology. Dr. Levinthal is an Assistant Professor of Medicine with the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. His clinical practice focuses on GI motility diseases, and his research seeks to understand the role of the central nervous system related to pain and autonomic function.



Professional Service

Drs. Papachristou and Yadav Selected for Acute Pancreatitis Steering Committee
Dhiraj Yadav, MD, MPH (9th from left) and Georgios Papachristou, MD, PhD (6th from right), pancreatologists with the University of Pittsburgh | UPMC Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition commemorate the inaugural meeting of SHARP (PsHincterotomy for the Treatment of Acute Recurrent Pancreatitis) in Bethesda, MD in January 2017.

Dr. Whitcomb Named to Journal Post
David C. Whitcomb, MD, PhD has been named editor in chief for the Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology journal.  This publication is the top-ranking open access journal in Gastroenterology & Hepatology, with a 2015 impact factor of 3.472.  Dr. Whitcomb is the Giant Eagle Foundation Professor of Cancer Genetics and a Professor of Medicine, Cell Biology & Physiology and Human Genetics with the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. 

CLD Faculty Assume AASLD Leadership Posts
The Division's Center for Liver Disease faculty have accepted key leadership positions with the Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD):

Dr. Brand Named ACG Regional Governor
Randall Brand, MD has been named the Governor for the American College of Gastroetnerology’s (ACG) Western Pennsylvania Region. His three-year term will begin in October 2016 during the ACG’s national annual meeting in Las Vegas, NV. Dr. Brand is a professor of medicine with the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition and serves as the Division’s Director of GI Malignancy Early Detection, Diagnosis & Prevention Program and is the Academic Director for the GI Division at UPMC Shadyside.

Dr. Brand to Serve on NCI Pancreas Task Force
Randall Brand, MD has been invited to serve a three-year term on the National Cancer Institute's Pancreas Task Force. In this role, Dr. Brand will work with gastroenterology and pancreatology colleagues to identify and promote the "best science" in clinical pancreatic cancer research. Dr. Brand is a Professor of Medicine with the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, where he directs the Division's GI Malignancy Early Detection, Diagnosis & Prevention Program.

Dr. Levinthal Represents UPMC at AGA Advocacy Day
David Levinthal, MD, PhD was one of 60 participants in the American Gastrointestinal Association’s (AGA) Advocacy Day in September 2015 in Washington, DC. Dr. Levinthal was accompanied by GI faculty emeritus, Barry Kisloff, MD, and their group met with Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey in the U.S. Senate Offices to discuss the lifesaving benefits of colonoscopies.

 

 


Innovating Patient Care

GI Gives Back!

Sincere appreciation to the employees from our Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, including the GI Lab, DDC and other locations, who contributed childrens’ toys to the Salvation Army’s Treasures for Children Holiday program.  Most special thanks to Akshata Moghe, MD, PhD, Year I GI Fellow, who coordinated this December 2017 donation program. 

Dr. Levinthal Highlighted in Pitt Med
Novel research by David Levinthal, MD, PhD and collaborators is featured in the Fall 2016 and Summer 2017 issues of Pitt Med Magazine.  Dr. Levinthal discusses proof of the brain's connection with organs and bodily functions as well as potential treatment strategies in "Mind is Matter:  The Circuitry of the Mind Body Connection."  Dr. Levinthal is an assistant professor of medicine with the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, where he also directs the Division's Neurogastroenterology and Motility Center.

Dr. Szigethy & Partners Explore New Mental Health Delivery Systems
Lantern, an evidence-based online mental health wellness service, will collaborate with UPMC to upgrade how emotional wellbeing services are delivered and accessed by patients in need. Eva Szigethy, MD, PhD, will work closely with the Lantern team to provide accessible online mental health services. Dr. Szigethy is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine and Pediatrics with the University of Pittsburgh | UPMC, and she is the founder and director of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition's Visceral Inflammation & Pain (VIP) Center.

Dr. O’Keefe Leads Study on African Diet to Diminish Colon Cancer Risk
Research led by Stephen O’Keefe, MD, MSc was featured throughout the U.S. and Western Europe in Spring 2015, when his findings on colon cancer diet variance among rural Africans and African Americans were published in the prestigious Nature Communications journal in April 2015. His research, Fat, Fibre and Cancer Risk in African Americans and Rural Africans, explores the power of diet to alter colon cancer risk. Excerpts from his research were discussed in the New York Times, Reuter’s agencies, Huffington Post, Forbes Magazine, NBC News, CBS News, and the BBC, among other signification media outlets. Dr. O’Keefe is a Professor of Medicine with the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, where his research interests concentrate on nutrition support and the gut microbiome.



High-Impact Publications

Dr. Schoen & Colleagues Update Colon Cancer Screening Recommendations
Robert E. Schoen, MD, MPH
, Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, and Benjamin Click, MD, Chief GI Fellow, were featured in JAMA’s May 15, 2018 journal for research on “Association of Colonoscopy Adenoma Findings With Long-term Colorectal Cancer Incidence.”  This cutting edge research was also featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Helio.

Drs. Click Featured in Journal Video
Benjamin Click, MD, Year II GI Fellow was featured in a clinical case video in the May 2017 online issue of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.  Dr. Click discusses the relevance of stress, behavioral health, and mind-gut for IBD patients in IBD LIVE Series Case 7: The Brain-Gut Connection and the Importance of Integrated Care in IBD.

Pancreasfest Fosters Novel Research
PancreasFest is an annual, international accredited conference, which draws more than 200 pancreatologists and physician scientists to Pittsburgh to advance pancreas treatments.  Collaboration among academic pancreas centers of excellence is discussed in this May 2017 Pancreatology publication, Academic Pancreas Centers of Excellence:  Guidance from a Multidisciplinary Chronic Pancreatitis Working Group at PancreasFest.

Dr. Levinthal and Pitt Research Team Connect the Mind Influences the Body
Novel research findings from David Levinthal, MD, PhD, Peter Strick, PhD and Richard Dum, PhD have identified the neural networks that connect the cerebral cortex to the adrenal medulla, which is responsible for the body's rapid response in stressful situations.  These findings were featured in the August 2016 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Motor, Cognitive, and Affective Areas of the Cerebral Cortex Influence the Adrenal Medulla.  Dr. Levinthal is an assistant professor of medicine with the University of Pittsburgh Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, where he leads the Division's Neurogastroenterology Program.

Dr. O'Keefe's Research: A 2015 NCI Highlighted Publication
A Nature Communications publication on Fat, Fiber and Cancer Risk in African Americans and Rural Africans by the research team of Stephen J.D. O’Keefe, MD, MSc has been selected as a Research Highlight for 2015 by NCI's Epidemiology & Genomics Research Program (EGRP). The EGRP staff nominated and voted for 2015 manuscripts by EGRP grantees which were deemed to have the greatest potential for scientific and/or public health impact. Dr. O'Keefe is a Professor of Medicine with the University of Pittsburgh Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.

Dr. Szigethy Challenges Opioid Use for Abdominal Pain
Eva Szigethy, MD, PhD was featured as the lead contributor for “Opioid Scripts for Chronic Bowel Pain Persist Despite High Risks, Few Rewards,” an article in the November 2015 issue of "Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News." In this article, she discusses the lack of evidence to support long-term opioid use for chronic abdominal pain. Dr. Szigethy is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry with the University of Pittsburgh | UPMC Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, where she is the founder and director of the Division’s Visceral Inflammation & Pain (VIP) Center.


In the Media

Division Featured at DDW 2018

The Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition highlighted University of Pittsburgh research enjoyed a reception for alumni and friends at the 2018 Digestive Disease Week (DDW) annual meeting in Washington, DC. 

Dr. Levinthal Featured on Tonic Vice Health Web Channel

David Levinthal, MD, PhD discusses possible GI side effects related to progesterone-only contraception in Tonic’s online web channel article, “When the Rare Birth Control Pill Side Effect Happens to You.”  Dr.  Levinthal is an assistant professor of medicine and directs the Neurogastroenterology and Motility Center in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. 

Dr. Levinthal Comments on GI Electrical Stimulation in IEEE Magazine
David Levinthal, MD, PhD was featured in the March 2018 issue of Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Spectrum magazine.  In the article, “Tummy Tech Tracks Electrical Activity for Signs of Indigestion,” Dr. Levinthal discusses potential symptom identification through electrical monitoring of the GI tract.  Dr. Levinthal is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, where he also directs the Division’s Neurogastroenterology and Motility Center.

Dr. Behari Introduces New Liver Test at UPMC

Jaideep Behari, MD, PhD wants healthy livers in his patients.  Fibroscan, new, non-invasive and painless liver test, helps UPMC physicians to determine liver elasticity and consequent patient liver health.  Dr. Behari was featured on KDKA-TV (CBS affiliate), where he discussed the advantages of this new liver test.

Dr. Levinthal Offers Expertise on NBC Today Show
David Levinthal, MD, PhD has been interviewed related to two gastroenterology issues on the NBC Today Show.  In May 2017, he discussed the brain-body connection to manage pain and encourage exercise.  In October 2017, he discussed Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  Dr. Levinthal is an assistant professor of medicine with the University of Pittsburgh | UPMC Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, where he also directs the Division’s Neurogastroenterology and Motility Center.

https://www.today.com/health/swearing-during-workout-may-make-you-stronger-t111188

https://www.today.com/health/mychael-knight-s-death-irritable-bowel-syndrome-fatal-t117701

Dr. Schwartz: A Best of Pittsburgh Doctor
Marc Schwartz, MD has been selected for the 2017 “Best of Pittsburgh Awards” in the Doctor category.  This honor was listed in the Pittsburgh City Paper.  Dr. Schwartz is an IBD subspecialist with the Division, and he also leads IBD clinical research and is the program director for the Division’s Advanced Fellowship in IBD.

Dr. O'Keefe Promotes Fiber-Rich Diet on PBS
Stephen J.D. O’Keefe, MD, MSc was featured on the original PBS documentary, In Defense of Food, and discussed his microbiome and fiber research studies. This December 2015 program stars U.S. journalist Michael Pollan and discusses a prescription for reversing the damage being done to health by today's industrially driven Western diet. Dr. O'Keefe is a Professor of Medicine with the University of Pittsburgh | UPMC Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.

Dr. Levinthal Discusses IBS in Pittsburgh Tribune Review
David Levinthal, MD, PhD discussed Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms and treatments in one of Pittsburgh’s regional newspapers. A copy of this discussion with Dr. Levinthal may be read here. Dr. Levinthal is an Assistant Professor of Medicine with the University of Pittsburgh | UPMC Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.

Dr. Levinthal Discusses Diet and Stomach Size in Smithsonian Magazine
David Levinthal, MD, PhD contributed information to Does Dieting Actually Make your Stomach Shrink?, an article in Smithsonian Magazine in June 2015. Dr. Levinthal is an Assistant Professor of Medicine with the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, where his practice and research interests concentrate on functional motility diseases of the digestive system.

Dr. Schwartz Discusses Probiotics and Fecal Transplantation
Marc Schwartz, MD was featured in a Tribune-Review newspaper article, Probiotics Key in War on "Superbugs," in March 2015 to discuss the use of probiotics and “good” bacteria for GI health. Dr. Schwartz highlighted his novel work with fecal transplantation designed to rebuild a more complete and health bacteria community in the gut. Dr. Schwartz is an Assistant Professor of Medicine with the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, where his practice concentrates on inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease patients.

Dr. Schoen Highlights Colonoscopy Importance
Robert Schoen, MD, MPH voiced support for U.S. task force colon cancer screening methods in a June 2016 feature in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Dr. Schoen is the Interim Chief for the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition and is a Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He is a world-recognized colon cancer screening expert.