Media Highlights 2018

Best Hospitals GI 2018 Badge

We are pleased and proud to share news that UCLA Gastroenterology and GI Surgery placed No. 7 in the nation for the 2018-19 annual U.S. News & World Report rankings.

We are equally proud that U.S. News recognized our hospitals as No. 7 on the national honor roll.

UCLA Health ranking


V. Raman Muthusamy, MD, MAS, leads an American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) conference on improving colorectal cancer screening and surveillance
The AGA convened a two-day conference of colorectal cancer and technology experts to develop recommendations on improving colorectal cancer screening and surveillance. “This is a retreat of many of the foremost experts in colorectal cancer screening prevention. We will spend two days evaluating how we screen patients, and asking how we can push ourselves to do even better. Artificial intelligence, emerging endoscopic technologies, the microbiome and diagnostic markers are all on the table for discussion,” says Dr. Muthusamy, director of endoscopy for UCLA Health System and chair of the AGA Center for GI Innovation and Technology. The conference took place in Washington, DC in early December.


Taking probiotics after antibiotics may not help
Healthline consulted Dr. Emeran A. Mayer, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience and co-director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center at UCLA, in a report on the latest research concerning the prescription of probiotics to curb the negative effects of antibiotics.


The risks and benefits of probiotics
Dr. Emeran A. Mayer, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience and co-director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center at UCLA, commented in a Consumer Reports story about the risks and benefits of probiotic supplements.


Simon W. Beaven, MD, PhD, named Chief of GI at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center

Soma Wali, MD, chief of the Department of Medicine at OIive View-UCLA Medical Center, announced Dr. Beaven’s appointment to chief of GI on November 2, 2018. Dr. Beaven attended Stanford University where he majored in mathematics with honors in humanities. He went on to receive his MD from the University of California, San Francisco, and received the Dean’s Research Prize for work he performed in the laboratory of Dr. Scott Friedman under a Howard Hughes Medical Student Research Fellowship. Dr. Beaven completed internal medicine residency training at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. He came to UCLA in 2003 as a fellow in digestive diseases where he completed his gastroenterology fellowship. During this period, Dr. Beaven continued his research training and received a PhD with Dr. Peter Tontonoz in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Pathology. He then joined the UCLA faculty as a hepatologist and has done extensive research in this area. Dr. Beaven joined the Olive View faculty on a part-time basis two years ago and has been an important part of the division’s clinical and education missions.


$3.5-million grant awarded to UCLA researchers to develop blood-based cancer-screening test
Los Angeles Business JournalMyNewsLA and LA West Media reported on a $3.5-million grant from the National Institutes of Health to establish a center for the early detection of liver cancer. The team, led by UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center members Dr. Xianghong Jasmine Zhou, Dr. Steven-Huy Han and Dr. Samuel French, is developing an effective and affordable blood-based test. Dr. Zhou is a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, Dr. Han is a professor of medicine and surgery, and French is an associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine.


The Medical Nutrition Practice Group expands to include dietitans specializing in GI disorders
Nancee Jaffee, MS, RDN and Janelle Smith, MS, RDN will be active in leading a newly expanded subgroup of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that deals specifically with the dietary component of gastrointestinal disorders. The Dietitians in Gluten and Gastrointestinal Disorders (DIGID) group will work to establish and advance and standards of care in gastrointestinal disorders, work with federal and health agencies in establishing policies beneficial to gastrointestinal disorders patients and develop education materials for patients and professionals. Janelle is chair of the group that initiated expansion of the group and a member of the executive committee of its parent organization. Nancee is leader of the functional bowel disorders workgroup.


Campus queries: What drives us to eat for pleasure?
A recent UCLA study suggests microorganisms that populate the human gut play a role in encouraging pleasure eating. The study, an interdisciplinary collaboration between the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience and the UCLA Microbiome Center, found a connection linking levels of the metabolite indole – a compound produced when a certain amino acid is processed by gut bacteria – and the brain’s reward system. Drs. Arpana Gupta and Emeran A. Mayer were interviewed for Campus Queries, (What Drives Us to Eat for Pleasure), a Daily Bruin series in which UCLA professors and experts answer questions from readers and staff.


Emeran A. Mayer, MD, awarded grant on brain-gut-microbiome interactions in autism spectrum disorders
Dr. Mayer, principal investigator, was awarded a Department of Defense grant titled “The Relationship Between Brain Functioning, Behavior, and Microbiota in Autism Spectrum.” This one-year project, provides $300,000 in funding.


Arpana Gupta, PhD, receives early career travel grant
Dr. Gupta received The Obesity Society’s (TOS) early career travel grant. TOS is a scientific membership organization dedicated to improving people’s lives by advancing the science-based understanding of the causes, consequences, prevention and treatment of obesity. This grant supports early career investigators in their efforts to contribute to the field of obesity.


What we know about gut brain bacteria and weight loss
Well+Good interviewed Dr. Emeran A. Mayer for a story about the microbiome and its role in metabolism, inflammation and appetite. Dr. Mayer is director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience and co-director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center at UCLA.


Exploring treatments for irritable bowel syndrome
Healio reported on a presentation by Dr. Lin Chang at the American College of Gastroenterology Annual Scientific Meeting about pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic therapies for irritable bowel syndrome. Dr. Chang is vice-chief of the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases and co-director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience.


Yvette Taché, PhD, selected to receive the Andre Robert Prize for her contributions to the field of GI pharmacology
At the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR) GI Section’s International Symposia on Cell/Tissue Injury & Cytoprotection/Organoprotection Series held in Kyoto, Japan July 2018, Dr. Taché was presented with the Andre Robert Prize for her contributions to the field of GI pharmacology. The Andre Robert Prize was established on behalf of this symposia series to commemorate the work of Andre Robert, MD, PhD, originator of the concept of “gastric cytoprotection.”


V. Raman Muthusamy, MD, MAS, Publishes Book – Clinical Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, 3rd Edition
Clinical Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, 3rd Edition, by Drs. V. Raman Muthusamy, Vinay Chandrasekhara, Mouen Khashab and B. Joseph Elmunzer is now thoroughly up-to-date both in print and online. This all-new editorial team makes this reference an easy-to-use source of reliable information on a full range of topics, including anatomy, pathophysiology and therapeutic management options, in addition to the latest GI procedures and technologies. It also includes updated videos and revised photographs, anatomical drawings and other images.


Gut bacteria is implicated in eating for pleasure
Psych Central, Medical XpressHealth News DigestHealth CanalNews-Medical.net and Scienmag covered UCLA research identifying a link between metabolites produced by human gut bacteria and eating for pleasure, as opposed to for hunger. A Reddit post about the study was featured on the front page of the Reddit website and has so far received more than 14,000 votes and 700 comments. Dr. Emeran Mayer, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience and co-director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center at UCLA, is senior author of the study.


Stressful events in adulthood linked to increased risks for IBS
Helio reported on UCLA research presented by Colleen H. Parker, MD, at DDW 2018 that found patients with more perceived stressful life events in adulthood are more likely to develop irritable bowel syndrome. Conversely, Parker and colleagues found that positive life events appeared to mitigate the effects of stressful life events on IBS.


Plant-based diets and the gut microbiota
Emeran A. Mayer, MD, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, was quoted in Today’s Dietitian about plant-based diets and the gut biome. The story quoted a speech Mayer gave at the Nutrition & Health Conference in May.


Jill Hoffman, PhD, receives AGA-Takeda Pharmaceuticals Research Scholar Award in IBD
Dr. Hoffman, Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, received the AGA-Takeda Pharmaceuticals Research Scholar Award in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, which is a three-year career development award that totals $270,000. The objective of the award is to support young gastroenterologists working toward independent and productive research careers in IBD by ensuring that a major portion of their time is protected for research. The award will support young faculty (not fellows) who have demonstrated exceptional promise and have some record of accomplishment in research. The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) and the AGA Research Foundation awarded 41 investigators with more than $2 million in research funding in the 2018 award year. The awards programs are made possible thanks to generous donors and funders contributing to the AGA Research Foundation. Learn more about the award recipients


Homeless veterans with HCV diagnosed, rreated via PCP
Healio reported on UCLA research presented at DDW 2018 on a project to provide hepatitis C treatment to homeless Veterans. Omar Bakr, MD, is a resident in the UCLA IM training program and part of the May Laboratory team. 


Gut bacteria forecast whether IBS patients will benefit from therapy
Healio reported on UCLA research presented at DDW 2018 finding that certain bacteria in the gut microbiome helped predict whether cognitive behavioral therapy could reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Dr. Jonathan Jacobs, an assistant professor in the UCLA Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, was quoted.


How to tell if you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance
Huffington Post featured the expertise of Dr. Guy Weiss in a story about diagnosing patients with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Dr. Weiss is the program leader of the Celiac Disease Program at the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases.


Nine things to know about medical therapies for IBS
Healio published an interview with Dr. Lin Chang about medical therapies for patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Dr. Chang is vice-chief of the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases and co-director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience.


Eating beef jerky might be linked to manic episodes in some people
Dr. Emeran A. Mayer, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience and co-director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center, commented in a Gizmodo story about research looking at the possible connection between nitrate consumption and manic episodes.


IBD research expands to include brain-gut-microbiome
The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America Inc. awarded Emeran A. Mayer, MD, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience (CNSR), a three-year grant, with an annual budget of $300,000, to study “brain-gut-microbiome signatures of stress-related IBD symptom flares.” This is the first collaborative effort between Jonathan Jacobs, MD, PhD, Jenny Sauk, MD and CNSR focusing on IBD patients.


Cancer research collaboration highlighted in Nutrition Frontiers
Nutrition Frontiers, a highly followed newsletter from the Nutritional Science Research Group (NSRG), Division of Cancer Prevention (DCP), National Cancer Institute, highlighted in their “What’s New in Basic Science” section a collaborative effort that includes faculty from our division, CURE: DDRC and UCLA surgery. This research update showed high-fat-high-calorie diet induced obesity dramatically increases pancreatic cancer in mice. Learn more


Gut bacteria play critical role in anti-seizure effects of ketogenic diet
LiveScienceFierceBiotechNew AtlasScienceDailyTech TimesGenetic Engineering & Biotechnology NewsBioTecNikaSlash GearChemical & Engineering NewsLaboratory EquipmentScienmag and MyScience.org covered a UCLA study identifying specific gut bacteria that play an essential role in the anti-seizure effects of the high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet. Elaine Hsiao, an assistant professor of medicine in the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, is the study’s senior author.


Your body has a 'second brain,' and here's how it keeps your butt smart, study says
Dr. Emeran A. Mayer, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience and co-director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center, was quoted in a McClatchy News story about the enteric nervous system in humans. The story appeared in the Sacramento Bee, the Modesto Bee, the Charlotte Observer, the Miami Herald, the Fresno Bee and 21 other publications.


Four easy ways to boost your gut bacteria (and why you'd even want to in the first place)
Prevention, in a story about promoting gut health, referenced a UCLA study on probiotics in yogurt and their impact on gut bacteria.


Can changes to our gut bacteria change our behavior?
In a BBC Radio 4 series called The Second Genome, Kirsten Tillisch, MD discussed UCLA’s research into how the microbiome is implicated in the expression of mood, emotion and behavior. Dr. Tillisch, an associate professor of medicine in the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, appears in the “Gateway to the Mind” episode from 19:00-22:14. She also is quoted in a BBC News online article on the same topic, which was syndicated in Huffington Post Mexico.


Harry Pothoulakis, MD, receives 2018 Section Research Mentor Award from the American Gastroenterological Association
The AGA Institute Council Section Research Mentor Award acknowledges AGA members for their achievements as outstanding mentors in a specific area of research. Dr. Pothoulakis was acknowledged for his mentorship in the cellular and molecular gastroenterology section during Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) 2018. Congratulations! For more information and to view additional recipients


Lin Chang, MD, selected for American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Governing Board
Dr. Chang, vice chief of the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, has been selected as the Clinical Research Councilor for the AGA Institute Governing Board. The AGA Institute Governing Board is responsible for overseeing the organization’s mission, strategic plan, programs and services. She will be starting her three-year term in June 2018.


Arpan A. Patel, MD, awarded the AASLD Foundation Advanced/Transplant Hepatology Award
The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Foundation (AASLD Foundation) selected Dr. Patel as the recipient of the 2018 Advanced/Transplant Hepatology Award. This two-year, $30,000 award is intended to encourage the academic careers of exceptional hepatology trainees. Congratulations!


20 foods that turn back your metabolic clock
An Eat This, Not That! story on nutrition and the metabolic clock referenced UCLA research on the impact of probiotics in yogurt on brain health. Kirsten Tillisch, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, led the research. MSN also published the story.


Early-stage HCV treatment saves money, improves QOL
Sammy Saab, MD, professor of medicine and surgery and head of outcomes research in hepatology, was quoted in Healio: HCV Next on a study finding that early-stage hepatitis C treatment saves money and improves quality of life.


Productivity is low in February, here are 5 simple tips to boost it
Dr. Kirsten Tillisch, an associate professor of medicine in the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, discussed her research about the impact of probiotics on brain response in a CNBC story about boosting productivity. The story also ran on Yahoo! Finance.


What's the mind-gut connection and how did it evolve?
Psychiatric Times featured Dr. Emeran A. Mayer, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience and co-director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center, in a podcast about the connection between the mind and the gut.


David Padua, MD, PhD, receives Kenneth Rainin Foundation Award - January 2018
The Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced today that it has awarded $1.7 million in grants through its Synergy Awards program. Funding will support teams of researchers who are pursuing collaborative projects aimed at improving the prediction and prevention of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). “The Rainin Foundation focuses its grants on impacting patient lives, while still maintaining an eye toward discovery science,” said Laura Wilson, PhD, director of Health Strategy and Ventures for the Rainin Foundation. “We want to fund promising ideas from both IBD research and unrelated fields that have the potential to lead to new patient treatments.” The Synergy Awards encourage investigators with differing areas of expertise to pool their talents and resources toward a research goal that would not be possible if they worked independently.

Dr. Padua and Karka Kirkegaard, Phd, Stanford University, were awarded $200,000 for IFNG-AS1 (NEST) long noncoding RNA as a regular of inflammation in IBD patients.

“As an early stage investigator, this type of funding opportunity is critical to me developing a successful scientific career,” said David Padua, MD, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles. “I am looking forward to collaborating with top notch researchers to combine our basic science and clinical translational research toward new discoveries in IBD.” More on the Kenneth Rainin Foundation


UCLA GI physicians mamed 2018 Southern CA Super Doctors
The selection process for Super Doctors is a rigorous multi-step process designed to identify physicians who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Super Doctors is a selective yet diverse listing of outstanding doctors, representing consumer-oriented medical specialties. Physicians are asked to consider the following question: "If you needed medical care in one of the following specialties, which doctor would you choose?"
Learn more about the selection process

Superdoctors Southern California 2018

Top, left-right: Drs. Michael Albertson, Peter Anton, Lin Chang, Hartley Cohen, Daniel Cole, Jeffrey L. Conklin, Francisco Durazo
Middle, left-right: Drs. Eric Ersrailian, Viktor E. Eysselein, Gary Gitnick
Bottom, left-right: Drs. Steven-Huy Han, Dennis Jensen, Rome Jutabha, Thomas Kovacs, Emeran E. Mayer, Sammy Saab and Kirsten Tillisch


UCLA GI physicians named 2018 Southern CA Rising Stars
The selection process for Rising Stars and for Super Doctors are the same except: to be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, candidates must be active physicians who have been fully-licensed to practice for approximately 10 years or less.
Learn more about the selection process

Superdoctors 2018 Rising Stars Edition

Top, left to right: Drs. Gina Choi, Lynn Shapiro Connolly, Kevin Ghassemi
Bottom, left to right: Drs. Wendy Ho, Hamed Nayeb Hashemi and Alireza Sedarat


7 types of abdominal pain you shouldn't ignore
In a Today.com story about colitis, Dr. Daniel Hollander explained the types of stomach pains and symptoms that could indicate a serious medical issue. The story was syndicated on MSN. Dr. Hollander is an inflammatory bowel disease specialist and a professor emeritus in the department of medicine.


Scientists are zeroing in on where intuition comes from, biologically
Dr. Emeran A. Mayer, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience and co-director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center, was quoted in BigThink about the interactions between the gut and the brain in a story about the root of intuition.


Researchsays exercise also improves your gut bacteria
Healthline published an article about a study examining the impact of exercise on gut bacteria. The article featured the insights of Dr. Emeran A. Mayer, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience and co-director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research.


An integrative approach for IBS relief
Dr. Emeran A. Mayer, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience and co-director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research, was quote in an Experience Life story on IBS relief and the gut-brain process.