U.S. News & World Report ranks UCLA Gastroenterology and GI Surgery among top in the Nation


We are pleased and proud to share the news that UCLA Gastroenterology and GI Surgery placed #3 in the nation for the 2023-24 annual U.S. News & World Report rankings.

We are equally proud that U.S. News & World Report recognized our hospitals as one of the nation's best in a broad assessment of excellence in hospital-based patient care.

UCLA Health ranking

Enrique Rozengurt, DVM, PhD, AGAF, honored as a ScholarGPS Highly Ranked Scholar 

ScholarGPS celebrates Highly Ranked Scholars™ for their exceptional performance in various fields, disciplines and specialties. Dr. Rozengurt’s prolific publication record, the high impact of his work and the outstanding quality of his scholarly contributions have placed him in the top 0.05% of all scholars worldwide according to ScholarGPS’s analytic tools. Dr. Rozengurt is the only UCLA scientist to be identified as Highly Ranked Scholar in molecular and cell biology. According to ScholarGPS metrics, Dr. Rozengurt ranks number one in tyrosine phosphorylation, number two in DNA synthesis and phorbol esters and number three in cell physiology! Dr. Rozengurt is a distinguished professor of medicine and Hirschberg Memorial Chair in Pancreatic Cancer Research. View his scholar profile and ranking

Jonathan D. Kaunitz, MD, receives prestigious national award and delivers the 16th Annual Hans H. Ussing lecture

Dr. Kaunitz, professor of medicine in the Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases and senior clinician-scientist investigator at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, joined a long list of distinguished scientists in giving the Hans H. Ussing lecture at the 2024 American Physiological Society (APS) Summit Meeting. Of the 16 awardees, Dr. Kaunitz is one of only three gastroenterologists and seven physicians to receive this national award for outstanding contributions to fundamental research in epithelial transport. In his lecture, Dr. Kaunitz recounted his research fellowship at UCLA in the laboratory of Ernest Wright in the early 1980s, when he studied the kinetics of sodium-glucose cotransport, building on Dr, Wright’s work and culminating in the cloning of the intestinal sodium-glucose cotransporter, laying the groundwork for the development of the SGLT2 inhibitors used to treat diabetes and oral rehydration solutions used to treat cholera.

Elizabeth J. Videlock, MD, PhD, receives NIH-NIDDK K08 grant

Dr. Videlock, health sciences assistant clinical professor, was awarded a K08 project grant award under the NIH-NIDDK Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases Extramural Research Program. This 5-year award of $854,160 supports Dr. Videlock’s research on “Intestinal Mitochondrial Dysfunction and the Gut-Brain-Immune Axis in Models of Parkinson’s Disease.” Her work aims to identify intestinal pathogenic mechanisms that may lead to the discovery of gut biomarkers for early diagnosis and gut-directed therapies to halt disease progression in the premotor phase of Parkinson's. The project will utilize UCLA's expertise in gastroenterology, neurodegenerative disease, and mitochondrial biology to investigate the gut-brain-immune axis and the impact of mitochondrial dysfunction in the intestinal epithelium. The research will leverage a range of in vivo and in vitro models, including mouse overexpression of alpha-synuclein and intestinal organoids, to advance the understanding of how enteric neuron pathology and impaired mitophagy in the gut epithelium may contribute to Parkinson's disease pathogenesis.

Colon cancer rates have been rising for decades in younger people, study finds – NBC News

Colorectal cancer rates have been rising for decades among people younger than the age recommended for routine screening, new research finds. Despite the increases, the overall number of cases in people younger than 40 was still low. In people under age 30, cases remained exceedingly rare. Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, director of the Melvin and Bren Simon GI Quality Improvement Program, provided expert commentary in the NBC News article Colon cancer rates have been rising for decades in younger people, study finds.

Biotech startup Seed Health is betting its profits on AI-powered medical science - CNBC

Seeds Health, which sells direct-to-consumer probiotic supplements, has launched an AI platform to analyze data from the Human Phenotype Project. Dr. Arpana Church, associate professor and co-director of the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center, comments on the need for scientific rigor in the field of probiotics.

Alexander H. Nguyen, MD, PhD, receives NIH-NIDDK K08 grant

Dr. Nguyen, assistant clinical professor of medicine, was awarded a K08 Clinical Investigator Award from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. This five-year award of $853,000 supports Dr. Nguyen’s research on the “Role of a Novel Methyltransferase in Liver Lipid Metabolism.” His work aims to characterize how a methyltransferase regulates cellular cholesterol metabolism and contributes to the development of steatotic liver disease.

Celebrating five years of excellence: UCLA Robert G. Kardashian Center for Esophageal Health

An intimate gathering at Lulu at the Hammer Museum on April 15 hailed a milestone for the UCLA Robert G. Kardashian Center for Esophageal Health – its fifth anniversary. Distinguished guests including Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian, daughters of the center’s namesake, joined an elite group of physicians and clinicians for the commemoration. The occasion not only honored the legacy of the late Robert Kardashian but also celebrated the center’s remarkable achievements in esophageal health since its founding in 2019. Full story

Feeding the lonely brain

A new UCLA Health study has found that women who perceive themselves to be lonely exhibited activity in regions of the brain associated with cravings and motivation towards eating, especially when shown pictures of high-calorie foods such as sugary foods. The same group of women also had unhealthy eating behaviors and poor mental health. a researcher and co-director of the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center, wanted to research the negative impacts of loneliness, especially as people continue to be working remotely after the COVID-19 pandemic, and how the brain interplays with social isolation, eating habits, and mental health. Read story on UCLA Health News & Insights and Newsweek

What's the best way to treat IBS?

A new study published in The Lancet suggests that certain dietary changes may be more effective than medication. Lin Chang, MD, professor of medicine, provided expert commentary and stated for some, a combination of diet and medication may work best. Read New York Times article

Balancing hope and reality: The promise and peril of blood-based colorectal cancer screening

Blood-based tests are important to expand options for patients and their physicians in colorectal cancer screening. But tests that both prevent and detect colorectal cancer early should continue to be the encouraged gold standard. After all, it’s better to prevent colorectal cancer before it occurs than catch it afterward, says Dr. Fola May, director of the Melvin and Bren Simon GI Quality Improvement Program. Read STAT News opinion article (April 2024)

3 things to do if stress is killing your appetite

There are a lot of ways stress can wreak havoc on your physical health, and while it hits the GI system particularly hard, the resulting symptoms are different for everyone. And that’s certainly true when it comes to hunger. In “The impact of stress on appetite is very complex and varies by individual,” Christina T. Gentile, PsyD, MA, ABPP, clinical health psychologist provides tips such as (1) before you eat anything, calm your nerves with a quick breathing exercise, (2) plan ahead by stocking up on ready-to-go, simple foods, and (3) don’t multitask while you eat. Learn more in SELF magazine article

Evolving CRC epidemiology offers challenges and opportunities

Over the past few decades, the demographics, location and stage of colorectal cancer at diagnosis have shifted, resulting in new patterns of disease presentation that clinicians should be aware of and that should prompt research to understand the risk factors driving this evolving epidemiology. At the 2023 annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology, Dr. Folasade P. May,  associate professor of medicine, gave a presentation on four major shifts in the epidemiology of colorectal cancer (CRC) and their implications. Read Gastroenterology & Hepatology News article (April 2024)

FDA approves first MASH treatment

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first ever medication for a common form of liver disease called metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis (MASH). MASH, until recently known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), is an advanced type of liver disease where fat builds up in the liver, causing inflammation and cell damage. Approximately 6 to 8 million Americans have MASH, accompanied by some level of liver scarring (fibrosis). Without proper management, MASH can escalate into permanent liver scarring (cirrhosis), liver failure or liver cancer. Sammy Saab, MD, MPH, medical director of the Pfleger Liver Institute, provides expert commentary on the medication, called Rezdiffra (resmetirom), in this VeryWell Health article


How to improve cancer sceening among young adults

This year in the United States, an estimated 2 million people will receive a new cancer diagnosis, and a growing proportion will be younger adults and people of color. Many of these cases could be prevented — nearly 60 percent of colorectal cancers, for example, could be avoided with early detection. Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, associate director of the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity in the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, is trying to understand why cancer screening rates are lagging, and what we can do to get people these potentially lifesaving tests. Read The Commonwealth Fund article (April 2024)

Improving colorectal cancer screening options

Dr. Folasade P. May, director of the Melvin and Bren Simon GI Quality Improvement Program,  laid out the need that prompted the April 8 session on emerging colorectal cancer screening tests at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2024 in San Diego. Read Cancer Today article (April 2024)

Diet may be better than medicine for easing symptoms of IBS

Research has found that a low-FODMAP diet -- which involves avoiding foods like wheat products, legumes, some nuts, certain sweeteners, most dairy products and many fruits and vegetables -- can reduce IBS symptoms in most people. For some, a combination of diet and medication may work best, says Dr. Lin Chang, co-director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience. Story in United Press International, MedicineNet, The HealthCast, and U.S. News & World Report

Emeran A. Mayer, MD, featured in MasterClass series on gut health

Our guts are in trouble because of modern life, and chronic health issues are on the rise. But there’s good news. We can repair our guts and help improve overall health in the process. With smarter food choices and simple lifestyle changes, you can nourish the complex ecosystem of bacteria in your gut to help it perform its best so you can feel your best. Dr. Mayer, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, provides expert commentary in this MasterClass series on how to boost well-being, starting with what’s inside you. Subscribe and watch

"Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut" to be released April 26 on Netflix

Delve into the digestive system with this lighthearted and informative documentary that demystifies the role gut health plays in our overall well-being. Arpana Gupta, PhD, co-director of the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center, provides expert commentary in this exciting new documentary.

Trust your gut: What to know about the stomach-brain connection

You’ve felt it before, when you get nervous, your stomach flutters or aches. You’ve been advised to trust this feeling and rely on it, but is your gut actually intuitive? It turns out, there’s evidence to support trusting your gut, literally. Your stomach and brain are directly connected — and can absolutely influence one another. “Think about a high-pressure situation, like a job interview or on a date: You might experience lightheadedness and weird sensations in your stomach simultaneously,” says Arpana Gupta, PhD, co-director of the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center at UCLA. But the connection can cause more than butterflies. If you’ve ever gotten an upset stomach (or worse) in a moment of high anxiety, you’re well aware of this. And it’s not just in your head. Read story on Katie Couric media

V. Raman Muthusamy, MD, MAS, named Los Angeles Business Journal Leaders of Influence: Top LA Doctors 2024

Dr. Muthusamy, director of endoscopy at UCLA Health, is an internationally recognized leader in advanced endoscopic procedures. His clinical research interests focus on the evaluation of existing and new endoscopic technologies for the diagnosis and treatment of digestive disorders. Dr. Muthusamy has also participated in numerous studies involving the development of quality metrics in endoscopy and methods to improve the efficiency and safety of endoscopy care.

Colorectal cancer death rates climb for men and women under 50 and so does the urgent need for early screening

In its 2024 Report on annual cancer rates and deaths, the American Cancer Society highlights that colorectal cancer is now the leading cause of cancer death for men younger than 50 and the second leading cause of cancer death for women under 50. Folasade May, MD, PhD, MPhil, UCLA Health cancer prevention researcher and gastroenterologist, and a member of the UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, addressed the trend and what needs to happen to stop it. UCLA Health News & Insights story

Why a healthy diet is crucial for reducing risk of colorectal cancer and improving results after diagnosis

Although rates overall have been declining thanks to increases in awareness and screening, colorectal cancer remains the fourth-most-common cause of cancer among U.S. adults. Paying attention to lifestyle and diet can help reduce risk and is critical for those who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Carl Nordstrom, MD, health sciences assistant clinical professor of medicine, and Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN, lead GI dietitian, stress the importance of vitamin D, fiber and other dietary needs in this UCLA Health News & Insights story

Enrique Rozengurt, DVM, PhD, and Elaine F. Reed, PhD, receives $7M Transplant Rejection Program Award Grant

UCLA Distinguished Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Dr. Elaine F. Reed and UCLA Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases Dr. Enrique Rozengurt have received a new $3.3 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to examine the intracellular mechanisms that mediate endothelial cell signaling in response to antibodies that contribute to rejection of transplanted organs. Most current treatments to prevent transplant rejection rely on immunosuppressive drugs that are relatively unspecific. New therapeutic approaches are needed, and the identification of key targets will most likely arise from the elucidation of the molecular mechanism(s) underlying organ transplant rejection. The new funds will support research identifying novel pathways by which donor specific HLA antibodies attack endothelial cells. The team was recently awarded a grant to examine the mechanisms by which the lipid-lowering drugs of the statin family prevent rejection of solid organ transplants. Together, these new grants, totaling $7 million, will support a robust interdisciplinary research program in endothelial cell biology and transplantation medicine, the results of which could be important in other fields, including counteracting cancer.

MDs explain the causes – and cures – for period diarrhea

We expect the cramps, bloating, mood swings, breast tenderness and breakouts associated with our monthly period. But for many women, especially during perimenopause, period diarrhea is also a problem. Indeed, research shows that up to 73% of perimenopausal women experienced at least one gastrointestinal symptoms before or during their period, and abdominal pain and diarrhea were the most common. But what causes period diarrhea? And should you worry about it? Andrea S. Shin, MD, MSCR, health sciences associate clinical professor of medicine, provides expert commentary in this First for Women article 

Smart ways to keep heartburn at bay

Heartburn affects at least 20 percent of adults, and it becomes even more common as we get older. Fortunately, there are highly effective medications to treat the condition. Some of them come with risks, but a few smart strategies can help mitigate them. Plus, changes in your lifestyle can help reduce the need for medication or eliminate it altogether. Mona Rezapour, MD, MHS, health sciences assistant clinical professor of medicine, provides expert commentary in this Consumer Reports article 

‘Scandal’ Star Bellamy Young: I didn’t know cirrhosis could affect my dad’s brain

Sammy Saab, MD, MPH, medical director of the Pfleger Liver Institute, provided expert commentary on hepatic encephalopathy and how it is difficult to diagnose because it can often resemble other conditions in this Healthline story

The new science on what ultra-processed food does to your brain

Ultra-processed foods may not only affect our bodies, but our brains too. New research suggests links between ultra-processed foods — such as chips, many cereals, and most packaged snacks at the grocery store — and changes in the way we learn, remember and feel. These foods can act like addictive substances, researchers say, and some scientists are proposing a new mental-health condition called “ultra-processed food use disorder.” Diets filled with such foods may raise the risk of mental health and sleep problems. Arpana Gupta, PhD, co-director of the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center, provided commentary in this Wall Street Journal article (subscription required)

Why anemia occurs in ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is marked by rectal bleeding, bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain and cramping, and can raise the risk for anemia, particularly if it isn't well-controlled. Nirupama N. Bonthala, MD, director of Women’s Health in Inflammatory Bowel Disease, provides expert commentary in this Health Central article.

How a new stool test may help reduce colorectal cancer deaths

According to a new study published in The Lancet Oncology, a new stood test could offer improved detection of precursors to colorectal cancer. Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, director of the Melvin and Bren Simon GI Quality Improvement Program, provided expert commentary in this Medical News Today article.

What to know about Crohn’s disease pain

While most Crohn’s disease patients know that abdominal discomfort is a hallmark symptom of this form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), many still have questions about what Crohn’s pain feels like for others with the disease, how bad it can get, and what will make it go away. Nirupama N. Bonthala, MD, director of Women’s Health in Inflammatory Bowel Disease, provides expert commentary in this Health Central article.

Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, interviewed by ABC News on the troubling increase in colon and breast cancer in younger adults

Death rates from cancer have declined by 33% since 1991, averting 4.1 million deaths. However, more people are being diagnosed with cancer than ever before, and at earlier ages, according to a major new report from the American Cancer Society. Especially concerning is the rising number of deaths of young people from colon cancer. Oncologists say that the colon cancer trends in the U.S. are matched by other high-income countries and say it's possible the increase could be due to lifestyles or environmental exposures for younger generations. Environmental factors, such as exposure to chemicals in foods and in the air, and other currently unidentified factors, such as the recent legalization of cannabis and increased cannabis use, can't be ruled out as risk factors. "There are studies that even show that risk factors like whether or not you were breastfed, whether or not you had antibiotics at a high rate as a child -- that these factors might be predicting your chances of getting cancer when you're an adult," said Dr. Fola May, gastroenterologist and researcher at UCLA Health. Read full story

The UCLA Research Park: Immunology and Immunotherapy

UCLA has acquired the former Westside Pavilion shopping mall, which the university will transform into the UCLA Research Park — bringing together scholars and industry experts from around the world to create a nexus for discovery and innovation that will benefit Southern California and beyond. The 700,000-square-foot property, located 2 miles south of the Westwood campus, will initially host two multidisciplinary research centers: the California Institute for Immunology and Immunotherapy at UCLA and the UCLA Center for Quantum Science and Engineering. The new UCLA Research Park is made possible in part by an intended $500 million investment, with $200 million already allocated, from the state of California to establish and fund the immunology and immunotherapy institute at UCLA. The institute is also supported by a group of founding donors from the biotechnology, academic, entrepreneurship and philanthropic communities led by Meyer Luskin, Dr. Gary Michelson, Dr. Eric Esrailian, Dr. Arie Belldegrun, Sean Parker and Michael Milken. “Immunology plays a central role in the GI tract in both health and disease,” Dr. Esrailian says. “As a division, we are extremely excited to be part of this independent institute. It will be transformational for the field of digestive diseases as well as other disease areas by leveraging UCLA’s unique strengths and establishing an ecosystem for entrepreneurship that will ensure discoveries are translated to therapies and technologies that benefit patients.” Learn more at UCLA Newsroom 

Gut check: Five reasons why taking care of your gut can help you this flu season

A healthy digestive system plays a key role in your overall health and immune system response. Your immune system is an elaborate network in your body that is influenced by many different factors. One major determinant of how your immune system functions is the health of your gut. “In someone who is healthy, this gut microbiome is protective against pathogens that can enter the body through the food we eat or water we drink,” notes Nancee Jaffe, RDN, GI dietitian. This role can even extend outside the digestive system, potentially warding off respiratory infections like the flu. Read the EveryDay Health article on five reasons to take your gut health seriously

Can you drink alcohol if you have GERD?

One question that many people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) have is how often they can or should drink alcohol. Alcohol is an established GERD trigger, but that doesn’t mean everyone with GERD will experience symptoms after they enjoy a glass of wine. “It really comes down to what the individual can tolerate best,” says Kate Evans, MS, RDN, GI dietitian. “There are no hard-and-fast rules for GERD.” Read the EveryDay Health article on triggers and tips for drinking alcohol if you have GERD

Why does my poop smell bad?

Poop, feces, stool — whatever you call it, there's no denying the unpleasant smell. While it's perfectly normal for poo to be pungent, you may wonder what it is about our excrement that makes it stink. So why does poop smell bad? "Stools are generally not a pleasant smell because they are releasing byproducts of your digestion," Shelby Yaceczko, MS, RDN-AP, CNSC, CSSD, advanced practice registered dietitian, told Live Science. Read the article

The keto diet protects against epileptic seizures. Scientists are uncovering why

The high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet is more than just a trendy weight-loss tactic. It has also been known to help control seizures in children with epilepsy, particularly those who don’t respond to first-line anti-seizure medications. In a new UCLA study published in the journal Cell Reports, researchers demonstrate that changes to the human gut microbiome associated with the ketogenic diet can confer protection against seizures in mice. Understanding how microbiome function is altered by diet could aid in the development of new therapeutic approaches that incorporate these beneficial changes while avoiding certain drawbacks of the diet, said the study’s lead author, Gregory Lum, a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Hsiao’s laboratory. Dr. Hsiao, director of the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center, was senior author on the study. Read the story on UCLA News & Insights