Research

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

This is an exciting time in the field of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Research advances in the fields of genetics and immunology have rendered a better understanding of the disease and offer hope to one day find a cure.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center provides specialized care for patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, contributes to the advancement of IBD research, and educates patients and healthcare professionals about IBD. The IBD Center is one of the largest in the nation, with a cohesive team of gastroenterologists and surgeons who are recognized as international experts in their respective specialties.
Directed by gastroenterologists who unite surgeons, nutritionists, radiologists, mental health specialists, and pathologists, the Center is designed provide care for the region’s significant population of patients with IBD. In addition to providing comprehensive primary care to these patients, the Center emphasizes cancer surveillance, women’s health, intestinal rehabilitation and transplantation medicine, psychosocial health and the transition of care from the pediatric to adult gastroenterologist. To maintain the highest possible standards for these specializations in the context of IBD, the Center has partnered with the Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Magee Women’s Hospital, the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic and Children’s Hospital. By coordinating care across a range of specialties, the Center can provide IBD patients with “one stop shopping” for expert consultations and excellent diagnostic techniques. Thanks to this integrated approach, the IBD Center continues to attract increasingly larger numbers of patients from throughout the U.S.

The UPMC IBD Center and complementary IBD research initiatives at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine make an ongoing commitment to advancing patient care, improving quality of life, and enhancing the psychosocial function in our IBD patients. The UPMC IBD Center routinely cares for some of the most challenging IBD patients in the U.S., with care supported by the University of Pittsburgh, as a top research institution.

    • One of six centers in the USA and Canada selected for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) IBD Genetics Consortium.
    • Honored as a Vanguard Clinical Site for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s Study of a Prospective Adult Research Cohort with IBD (SPARC IBD), a cohort of the CCF’s IBD Plexus research initiative. Faculty member, Richard H. Duerr, MD, serves as the associate chief scientist for translational research for the IBD Plexus program.
    • The IBD Center identifies patients who have not responded to traditional therapies and recommends these patients for Phase I and II pharmaceutical trials. The IBD Center has been involved in most major clinical studies of new compounds.
    • One of a select group of IBD programs to host a Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of American (CCFA) fellowship and preceptor. These rotations provide physician-level exposure to IBD in a tertiary referral center and are unique opportunities for gastroenterology fellows and community practitioners.
    • “Big data” and a prospective registry with more than two decades of patient enrollment have led to a unique understanding of the natural course of IBD with significant outcomes research.
    • Collaboration with the UPMC Health Plan provides a payer-provider relationship focused on improving quality and reducing cost while growing patient-centered research.

Investigators

Dr. Barrie's Research

Dr. Barrie’s research interest is focused on IBD patient outcomes and optimizing IBD treatment.

Dr. Binion's Research

Dr. Binion’s research focuses on defining the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying human chronic gut inflammation and the translation of this knowledge into improved care for patients suffering from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Current work has centered on Big Data analytics and the development and transformation of the UPMC IBD Registry, a prospective, multi-year, longitudinal natural history registry database of >3,000 consented IBD patients into a metadata platform for scientific discovery. Working in collaboration with computer scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Science, this relational database continuously curates and transforms observational clinical information from the electronic medical record (EMR) and maintains >10,000 person-years of associated metadata in a secure data warehouse. Areas of active investigation include:

  • Developing prognostic biomarkers of IBD severity.
  • Characterizing the impact of diet and nutrition on IBD natural history.
  • Identification of biomarker patterns to predict development of dysplasia/cancer in IBD.
  • Identification of predictive biomarkers to guide therapeutic selection in IBD.
  • Comparative effectiveness studies in IBD maintenance therapy.
  • Defining the impact of surgical anastomotic technique on long-term clinical outcomes in Crohn’s disease.
  • Use of healthcare charge data as a comprehensive phenotype.
  • Defining the impact of Clostridium difficile infection on IBD natural history.
  • Characterizing extra-intestinal manifestations including anemia and autonomic dysfunction on the natural history of IBD.
  • Developing clinical decision support tools to optimize IBD care and implement precision medicine.

 

 

Click image to enlarge.

Dr. Duerr's Research

Dr. Duerr has been involved in research related to inflammatory bowel disease throughout his career. He leads one of six genetic research centers that comprise the NIH/NIDDK Inflammatory Bowel Disease Genetics Consortium. His research program has had uninterrupted funding from the NIH, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, and other foundations since 1995. He was recently appointed Associate Chief Scientist, Translational Research on the Leadership Team of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s IBD Plexus research and information exchange platform, which will engage academic and industry researchers, IBD patients, and clinicians and other healthcare providers in a partnership to accelerate the science of IBD. 

 

 

Click image to enlarge.

Dr. Harrison's Research

Dr. Harrison’s research interests include inflammatory bowel disease and women’s health.

Dr. Johnston's Research

Dr. Johnston’s investigates enhanced methodology for quality healthcare performance and patient safety.

Dr. Schwartz's Research

Dr. Schwartz’s researches the cost and utilization of IBD care as well as colon cancer in IBD patients.

Dr. Szigethy's Research

Dr. Szigethy’s research involves cognitive behavioral therapy to improve health care delivery for adult and pediatric GI patients, using psychotherapy, hypnosis, digital behavioral tools, and pharmacotherapy. Dr. Szigethy’s additional research interests include advanced programming for IBD patients and patients experiencing chronic pain, an interest in narcotic bowel syndrome and the mechanisms underlying this type of central hyperalgesia, as well as treatments to manage pain and opioid detoxification. Dr. Szigethy is the principal investigator of a five-year PCORI contract awarded to the UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care.  This study will test two different approaches — one involving in-person, team-based care, and the other using telemedicine and digital tools — to deliver care to individuals with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and behavioral health conditions.  This study is being conducted in partnership with the Mount Sinai Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic.  Dr. Szigethy also provides leadership for the Brain Manager and related research programs, designed to improve treatment modalities for patients with Diseases of Gut-Brain Interaction (DGBI).

Contact Us

Division of Gastroenterology,
Hepatology and Nutrition

Mezzanine Level, C-Wing, PUH
200 Lothrop Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
412-864-7091  |  Email

UPMC Digestive Disorders Center

1-866-4GASTRO (442-7876)

Center for Liver Diseases

1-800-447-1651

More Clinical Sites