Message from the Chief
The division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology is comprised of 24 full-time faculty, 10 contributed-service members and 6 emeriti faculty; ten clinical fellows; three post-doctoral research fellows and more than sixty staff members. We provide consultative services at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Jesse Brown VA Medical Center and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and run busy outpatient practices in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology and interventional endoscopy as part of Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation’s multi-specialty practice. The outpatient practices, directed by our ambulatory medical practice director Dr. Christian G. Stevoff, offer patients more than 18,000 office visits and approximately 12,000 procedures annually.
Clinical services offered by the division faculty, through Feinberg-affiliated hospitals and care sites, are state-of-the-art covering the broad spectrum of the subspecialties. The endoscopy laboratory of Northwestern Memorial Hospital is directed by Dr. John Martin; it encompasses eighteen procedure rooms. Our interventional endoscopy service – one of the busiest in the country – is widely recognized for expertise in endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP); endoscopic ultrasound; thermal ablation of malignant and premalignant lesions; and palliative cancer treatments with endoluminal stents. Dr. Sri Komanduri is the Director of the Interventional Endoscopy service and together with Dr. Raj Keswani they have created a regional referral base for complicated therapeutic and diagnostic endoscopic ultrasound.
In addition, Northwestern has developed specialized programs focused on motility and functional bowel disorders. The Esophageal Center at Northwestern was founded by Dr. Peter Kahrilas and is the top referral center in the country for difficult esophageal cases. Additionally, the esophageal motility lab within the Center has also been recognized as a top training program and has had visiting scholars from all over the world. The Chicago Classification of esophageal motor disorders was created in large part due to the work by Dr. Peter Kahrilas and Dr. John Pandolfino and the motility team at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. There is also a nationally recognized program within the Esophageal Center focused on eosinophilic disorders of the esophagus and gastrointestinal tract. Dr. Ikuo Hirano and Dr. Nirmala Gonsalves are nationally recognized investigators and have studied novel treatment approaches that range from new biologics to diet therapy.
Another unique aspect of the division focuses on the Behavioral Medicine program led by Dr. Laurie Keefer. Dr. Keefer has built a program which aims to incorporate behavioral interventions in chronic gastrointestinal disorders. She is nationally recognized as an expert in the role of cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnosis in gastrointestinal diseases and has been funded by the NIH to study these techniques in esophageal disorders, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. Dr. Sarah Kinsinger has developed a referral practice for behavioral interventions for a wide range of gastroenterology problems and serves as a mentor for post-graduate students in the division. Dr. Darren Brenner is also a key member of the Functional Bowel program and has an expertise in complicated motility problems of the small bowel, colon and anal-rectal junction. He has a specialized clinic focused on incontinence and constipation and currently offers many state of the art treatment approaches for these disorders.
The Gastroenterology faculty is rounded out by Dr. Arvydas Vanagunas, Dr. Colin Howden, Dr. Thomas Nealis, Dr. Laura Yun, Dr. Rosario Ferreira and a core group of contributed service faculty. These faculty provide comprehensive general gastroenterology clinical services and subspecialty care for inflammatory bowel disease and gastrointestinal bleeding. They are also a key component of the teaching services at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.
The Hepatology component of the division is a national leader in transplant hepatology and the management of complicated liver diseases. Currently, the transplant program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital is responsible for well over 100 liver transplants per year and is one of the busiest transplant centers in the country. The Transplant Hepatology team is led by Dr. Steven Flamm who is the medical director and there are 5 additional faculty members who focus on transplant hepatology. Dr. Daniel Ganger is the clinical practice manager for Hepatology, Dr. Laura Kulik runs a hepatocellular carcinoma program and Dr. Josh Levitsky is the program director for the hepatology transplant fellowship and the general fellowship. Dr. Sean Koppe splits his time between Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the VA where he is actively involved in clinical management and education of trainees while Dr. Mary Rinella has a focus on Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH). Dr. Rich Green and Dr. Ann Henkel are physician scientists and both have active clinical practices and laboratories focused on the study of liver and biliary pathophysiology
Members of the division’s faculty hold research interests that are diverse, and include esophageal disease, swallowing disorders, pancreatic/biliary disease, liver disease – including management of liver transplantation, general gastrointestinal disease – including colorectal cancer screening, weight loss, high-risk colon cancer prevention – including gastrointestinal genetic disorders, irritable bowel syndrome – including related health psychology services, and nutrition/intestinal absorption disorders. The division’s combined research activities result annually in approximately $2 million in direct costs, which are supported by NIH, industry/technology or foundation grants. A good number of our clinical fellows are actively engaged in research projects supported by NIH-funded training grants.
Clinical fellows participate in a three-year Gastroenterology and Hepatology fellowship program in either a clinical track, where the training emphasizes clinical patient care and research, or in a research track where the latter two years of the fellowship are devoted largely to basic science research. Research trainees have an opportunity to work within the division’s laboratories, which include collaborations with investigators in the school’s basic science departments and in clinical departments such as Surgery, Pathology and Pediatrics. Dr. Josh Levitsky serves as the new director of the fellowship program. Additionally, we offer a fourth-year, ACGME-accredited fellowship in Transplantation Hepatology, which is available to individuals who previously have completed a Gastroenterology and Hepatology fellowship. The Division also offers fourth-year programs in Interventional Endoscopy and Esophageal Disorders.
I hope that this broad overview of the activities of the division communicates its unique and dynamic posture. I believe that our division offers a rigorous and stimulating environment for postgraduate medical education in all facets of the subspecialty of gastroenterology. We welcome your consideration of Northwestern for your postgraduate clinical or research training in gastroenterology, hepatology or endoscopy.
John Pandolfino, MD, MSCI
Professor of Medicine and Chief
Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology