Media Highlights 2015

Best in the West 2016 Badge

UCLA gastroenterology and GI surgery ranked to No. 4 in the nation, according to a U.S.News & World Report survey that reviewed patient-outcomes data, reputation among physicians and other care-related factors. This makes us, once again, Best in the West!

Also, UCLA Health's hospitals in Westwood and Santa Monica have been named to U.S.News & World Report's 2015-16 Best Hospitals Honor Roll. UCLA, which previously ranked No. 5 in the country, ties for No. 3 this year.

Best Hospitals for Adult Gastroenterology and GI Surgery


V. Raman Muthusamy, MD, quoted in article about new guidelines for GERD
Dr. Muthusamy, director of interventional and gastrointestinal endoscopy in the division of digestive diseases, was quoted in the September issue of Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News in an article about new guidelines calling for a less aggressive approach for the use of endoscopy in the evaluation of patients presenting with symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or dyspepsia.


Why African-Americans are at a greater risk of colon cancer
Dr. Folasade May, assistant professor of medicine in the division of digestive diseases and member of UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Health and At-Risk Population Program, commented Sept. 2 in a KCRW 89.9FM story on recent research finding that more black men and women will die from colon cancer compared to their white counterparts due to lack of education by their physician, higher tobacco related illnesses and increased obesity rates. Research also finds that African American men are also more likely to refuse preventative care such as colonoscopies. Listen to interview


Santa Clarita Specialist Examines Diverticulosis Myths
Santa Clarita Magazine's September issue published a guest column from Dr. Sittiporn Bencharit, digestive disease specialist with UCLA Health's Santa Clarita practice, addressing the myths about diverticulosis.


vQ presented at Stanford Medicine X
UCLA Division of Digestive Disease's has been invited to speak at one of the most innovative stages in global healthcare: Stanford Medicine X. This two-day educational event, September 23-24, 2015, will focus on the future of medical education in the new Millennium, the role technology and networked intelligence might play in driving educational innovation, the new challenges facing health care education in the new Millennium, as well as the need to change the culture of medical education to be more patient-centered, participatory and patient-safety-focused. Daniel Hommes, MD, PhD, will speak on "Providing Value @ Your Fingertips: Integrated Care in Your Back Pocket."


Fulfillment Fund developed to improving childhood education
Dr. Gary Gitnick, professor and co-chief of the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases, and the Fran and Ray Stark Foundation Chair at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, commented Aug. 20 in a Hollywood Reporter article about the success of the Fulfillment Fund, a nonprofit devoted to improving childhood education that Gitnick founded in 1977.   


Healthy bowel movements
Dr. Eric Esrailian, co-chief of the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases, was quoted Aug. 20 in a Bustle.com article about the importance of healthy bowel movements.


Relationship between gut microbes and mood in mice
Dr. Emeran A. Mayer, professor of medicine in the division of digestive diseases and of psychiatry, commented July 31 in a Boston Globe article about new research that shows a relationship between gut microbes and mood in mice and any implications of the findings for human mental health.


Breakthrough experimental thearpy for colon cancer and chronic IBD
Health Canal reported July 31 on UCLA researchers finding a new chemical inhibitor able to block a molecule involved in the transmission of genetic information. UCLA scientists hope the research will assist physicians in treating colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. Dr. Dimitrios Iliopoulos, associate professor of medicine in the division of digestive diseases and member of UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Gene Regulation Program, was quoted. IBD July 28 and MedicalXpress July 29 reported on UCLA researchers finding a new chemical inhibitor able to block a molecule involved in the transmission of genetic information. UCLA scientists hope the research will assist physicians in treating colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. Dr. Dimitrios Iliopoulos, associate professor of medicine in the division of digestive diseases and member of UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Gene Regulation Program, was quoted. 


Can antibiotics prevent death from stomach cancer?
Dimitrios Iliopoulos, PhD, MBA, director of the UCLA Center for Systems Biomedicine, was quoted in a July 22 Forbes/Pharma & Healthcare article on a new report that claims taking antibiotics for a common bacteria, Helicobacter pylori, reduces the occurrence of gastric cancer.


The mysterious origins of gut feelings - Presented at annual TEDxUCLA event - May 30
Emeran A. Mayer, MD, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, was the invited speaker at the annual TEDxUCLA event held on May 30, 2015.


How your gut bacteria influences your emotions - NPR Interview - June 29
Emeran A. Mayer, MD, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, was featured in a June 29 NPR "On Point with Tom Ashbrook" report on how gut bacteria influences emotions. Listen to NPR Interview


When gut bacteria changes brain function
The Atlantic ran an article on June 24, 2015 highlighting research by Emeran A. Mayer, MD, that stated researchers believe that the microbiome may play a role in regulating how people think and feel. 


Arpana Gupta, postdoctoral scholar, UCLA grant winner
The Monitor of Psychology's May issue highlighted Arpana "Annie" Gupta, a postdoctoral scholar in the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases, who was awarded an American Psychological Foundation's 2014 Visionary Grant for her research. She is working with a team at the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience (CNSR) on connections between the brain and gut. Specifically, her research will assess sex and race differences in the influence of gut bacteria on brain markers in obese subjects. She is working with Dr. Emeran A. Mayer, a professor of medicine in the division of digestive diseases, and of physiology and psychiatry; Dr. Kirsten Tillisch, associate professor of medicine in the division of digestive diseases, and Dr. Jennifer Labus, adjunct associate professor of medicine in the division of digestive diseases. 


Voted Southern California Super Doctors 2015

A peer-review selection process ensures that only the top physicians are selected to become Super Doctors. These doctors have excelled professionally and are widely recognized as leaders within their fields of practice. Every year, thousands of physicians receive ballots that ask: "If you needed medical care, which doctor would you choose?" Several safeguards prevent self-nomination and ballot manipulation. An expert Blue Ribbon Panel groups nominees into more than 30 medical practice areas and assigns point totals based on individual reviews. Each doctor's professional information is verified to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date.

UCLA Health System is proud to have such a diverse group of doctors be deemed "super" among their peers. Super Doctors is a respected publication that identifies top doctors through independent research and an objective selection process.

The following UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases physician were recognized: Peter Anton, Lin Chang, Daniel Cole, Jeffrey Conklin, Francisco Durazo, Eric Esrailian, Gary Gitnick, Steven-Huy Han, Dennis Jensen, Rome Jutabha, Thomas Kovacs, Emeran Mayer, Bennett Roth, Sammy Saab and Kirsten Tillisch

Superdoctors Southern California 2015

Latina Style Magazine features gastroenterologists

A May article in Latina Style Magazine featured Dr. Claudia Sanmiguel, a clinical instructor of medicine in the division of digestive diseases, whose research addresses the role of the brain in the regulation of appetite and body weight in health and obesity. The story showcased Latinas in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 


Middleton Award Recognizes Yvette Taché's pioneering research in brain-gut interactions

For more than three decades, Yvette Taché, PhD, has been a leader in unraveling the complex brain-gut interactions that occur when stress leads to gastrointestinal disorders, paving the way for new treatments. Now, Dr. Taché's pioneering work has been recognized with the highest honor for scientific achievement given to a researcher or clinician by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dr. Taché, a professor in the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases since 1982, was named winner of the 2014 William S. Middleton Award, which honors senior Veterans Health Administration investigators who have achieved international acclaim for accomplishments in areas of prime importance to the VA's research mission. Dr. Taché is the first female recipient of the Middleton Award since 1960.

"As basic scientists, we are always thinking about how our discoveries might be translated into a better understanding of a disease and improved treatments," says Dr. Taché, associate director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center at UCLA and co-director of the Center for Neurobiology of Stress & Women's Health. "To have the VA recognize that this experimental work will have implications on the medical needs of the veteran population is very gratifying."

Brain-gut interaction was a new field when Dr. Taché arrived at UCLA more than three decades ago, but through their efforts in the laboratory, she and her colleagues contributed to a new understanding of the complex brain-gut interactions that occur when stress leads to gut dysfunction. Dr. Taché's group was among the first to demonstrate the role of peptides in brain-gut interactions, and her group was the first to establish the importance of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) in stress-related gut function alterations - laying the foundation for the current interest in modulating this pathway as potential therapeutic venue for functional diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Dr. Taché's interest in the mechanisms by which stress contributes to gut dysfunction is rooted in her PhD training at the University of Montreal, where she worked in an internationally renowned neuro-endocrinology laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. Hans Selye, who coined the term "stress" and conducted pioneering research showing its consequences on the body, including the stomach.

"In recent years the study of brain-gut interactions has emerged as an important aspect of gastroenterology research," Dr. Taché says. "I am hopeful that the recognition through this award will encourage young researchers to continue to build on our findings."


Robb Report features health experts
The spring issue of the Robb Report's "Health & Wellness" publication featured several UCLA experts:

Dr. Emeran A. Mayer, a professor of medicine in the division of digestive diseases and director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, commented in a feature on the health impact of the microbes that live in the body. Mayer specifically discussed a UCLA study that provided early evidence that bacteria ingested in food can affect brain function in humans. Read article


Physician trade site addresses weight gain after bariatric surgery
HCPLive, April 10, 2015, a physician trade website, featured a series of interviews with Dr. Rabindra Watson, assistant clinical professor of medicine in the division of digestive diseases, regarding a new minimally-invasive procedure to tighten the stomach that can sometimes stretch out several years after having bariatric surgery. The new procedure is offered as part of UCLA's Center for Obesity and Metabolic Health, a multi-disciplinary program that helps patients lose and sustain their weight loss.


Nancee Jaffe, registered dietician, was credited in an EveryDayHealth article titled Find Your Match: Healthy Snacks for Ulcerative Colitis.


Science Magazine highlights probiotic study
Scientific American Feb. 17 article that also ran in Nature featured the impact of microbes on the interactions between the brain and gut. The story included a 2013 UCLA study that provided the first evidence that bacteria ingested in food can affect brain function in humans. Dr. Emeran A. Mayer, professor of medicine in the division of digestive diseases, who is also a professor of physiology and psychiatry, and Dr. Kirsten Tillisch, associate professor of medicine in the division of digestive diseases, are quoted.


Prevention Magazine highlights probiotic yogurt study
The March issue of Prevention Magazine highlighted a study that showed for the first time that ingesting probiotic bacteria can affect brain function in humans. Study author Dr. Kirsten Tillisch, associate clinical professor of medicine in the division of digestive diseases, was cited.


NPR addresses weight gain after bariatric surgery
A Jan. 19 National Public Radio story featured a new minimally-invasive procedure to tighten the stomach that can sometimes stretch out several years after having bariatric surgery. Dr. Rabindra Watson, assistant clinical professor of medicine in the division of digestive diseases, was interviewed and a patient highlighted. The new procedure is offered as part of UCLA's Center for Obesity and Metabolic Health (COMET), a multi-disciplinary program that helps patients lose and sustain their weight loss. Learn more about the program


GI trade website covers new guidelines
A Jan. 21 article on Healio: Gastroenterology about new guidelines cautioning the preventive use of antibiotics before GI endoscopy procedures, featured comments from Dr. V. Raman Muthusamy, director of interventional endoscopy and health sciences clinical professor of medicine, division of digestive diseases.


First evidence that bacteria ingested in food can affect brain
An article in the January issue of Self Magazine highlights a UCLA study that provided some of the first evidence that bacteria ingested in food can affect brain function in humans. Study authors included Dr. Kirsten Tillisch, associate professor of medicine in the division of digestive diseases and Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine in the division of digestive diseases and also a professor of physiology and psychiatry.