Media Highlights 2021

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We are pleased and proud to share the news that UCLA Gastroenterology and GI Surgery placed #4 in the nation for the 2021-22 annual U.S. News & World Report rankings.

We are equally proud that U.S. New & World Report recognized our hospitals as #1 in both Los Angeles and California and #3 in the nation.

UCLA Health ranking


UCLA GI physicians and dietitian join Jada Pinkett Smith on Red Table Talk to discuss gut health and the importance of colorectal cancer screening

Watch the December 22, 2021 episode of Red Table Talk on gut health with our team – Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, director of the GI Quality Program, Guy Weiss, MD, director of the Celiac Program, and Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN, lead GI dietitian. Run time ~23 minutes. Jada, Gammy and Jaden sit down with medical and dietary experts to solve the gut problems that have plagued them for years. Plus, Jada and Gammy allow cameras to follow them to the hospital as they get a colonoscopy - a colorectal cancer screening that everyone will need at some point in their life. 


Health issues that are sometimes mistaken for gluten sensitivity
The protein found in wheat, barley and rye is often blamed for symptoms unrelated to Celiac disease. In a recent U.S. News article, Health issues that are sometimes mistaken for gluten sensitivity, Guy Weiss, MD, director of the UCLA Celiac Disease Program, explains, “Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition, affecting about 1 percent of the population, in which the immune system is triggered in response to gluten exposure, leading to gut inflammation.” With non-celiac gluten sensitivity, the diagnosis is less clear-cut. “NCGS is not a well-understood syndrome,” says Weiss. NCGS, which affects about 2 to 3 percent of people, “is diagnosed clinically after excluding celiac disease and wheat allergy, in those with symptoms that are associated only with gluten exposure,” he says. “People with NCGS do not have the abnormal laboratory or biopsy findings characteristic of celiac disease.”


It may not just be diet: How DNA can influence GI illnesses such as IBS
In a Healthline article on the role genetics may play in the risk of developing IBS, Dr. Mayer, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, spoke to the fact that while there may be a small genetic role in IBS, behavioral and lifestyle factors are more important and can be modified to prevent or address IBS symptoms.


Eric Esrailian, MD, MPH, honored at Vatican by Pope Francis
Dr. Esrailian, chief of the Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, who has been honored for his humanitarian efforts locally and around the world, was recognized by Pope Francis for exceptional service to the Roman Catholic Church. He has also worked to secure U.S. government recognition of the Armenian Genocide and raised awareness about human rights issues around the world. Read full story


When gut bacteria change brain function
Some researchers believe that the microbiome may play a role in regulating how people think and feel. Emeran A. Mayer, MD, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, provides expert commentary in The Atlantic article.


The colon cancer conundrum
Colorectal cancer rates in younger adults are climbing and the race is on to figure out why. Today it is clear that the increase in early-onset colorectal cancer is real. In the 20-to-49 year age group, rates climbed from about one in 12,000 in 1992 to one in 9,300 in 2015. “It’s not just a blip,” says Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, director of the Melvin and Bren Simon GI Quality Program. Some groups have been hit harder than others. The upward trend has been steepest among those who are white, Native American and Alaska Native. Read the full article in the December 2021 issue of Scientific American.


UCLA Health helps lead new $8M initiative to improve colorectal cancer screening rates nationwide
UCLA Health has been named a key partner and major grant recipient in an innovative national initiative launched by Stand Up To Cancer® (SU2C), Exact Sciences and Providence Saint John’s Health Center, aimed at addressing healthcare disparities in colorectal cancer care and prevention. The new Colorectal Cancer Health Equity Dream Team will receive $8 million – $6 million from Exact Sciences and $2 million from Providence Saint John’s Health Center -- for an innovative and comprehensive approach that will bring together leading researchers, patient advocates, community leaders, and clinicians to accomplish several goals, including improving colorectal cancer screening in medically underserved communities in three ‘SU2C Zones’: Los Angeles, Greater Boston, and Great Plains Tribal Communities in South Dakota.

As one of the three “Dream Team” partners, UCLA Health will help lead a three-year robust screening, outreach, and training effort in community health clinics in the Los Angeles area, which has a particularly low screening rate for colorectal cancer, the second most common cause of cancer-related death in American men and women combined. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a dramatic drop in participation in colorectal cancer screening,” said Folasade May, MD, PhD, MPhil, a gastroenterologist, health equity expert, and health services researcher at the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity and the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Many individuals have delayed essential medical care like cancer screening, especially in racially diverse and low-income communities where cancer outcomes are the direst. Our goal is to make sure that everyone, regardless of background, gets screened for colorectal cancer.”

Dr. May, who is a national Dream Team co-leader, is committed to empowering healthcare providers who serve Los Angeles and other participating communities by providing tools, strategies, and innovative community engagement approaches that will effectively address screening disparities. Full story


Steven-Huy Han, MD, named Palumbo Chair in Hepatology Research and Education
In August 2021, The Palumbo Chair in Hepatology Research and Education was established through the Philip L. Palumbo Living Trust. It supports a senior clinician who will lead groundbreaking research and patient care focusing on the treatment of chronic viral hepatitis B, the prevention of recurrent viral hepatitis after liver transplantation and the prevention of liver malignancies.

The inaugural Palumbo Chair holder is Dr. Steven Huy-Han, program director of the Transplant Hepatology Fellowship, director of the Hepatology Clinical Research Center, assistant director of the UCLA Asian Liver Center and health sciences clinical professor of medicine and surgery in the Division of Liver and Pancreas Transplantation and the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases. Dr. Han has worked as principal investigator in clinical studies involving treatment of chronic hepatitis B and C and acute liver failure. Recently, Dr. Han has initiated a program that aims to develop an effective blood-based method for the early detection of liver cancer focused on circulating tumor DNA in the blood. He has published many articles in the area of hepatitis, liver transplantation and liver cancer and is an active speaker, lecturing on these subjects both nationally and internationally. He has been recognized by Best Doctors© every year since 2003 and is a past president of the Southern California Society of Gastroenterology, where he is an ongoing council member.


Yvette Taché, PhD, receives ANMS Distinguished Investigator Award for Women in Neurogastroenterology
Dr. Taché, co-director, G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience received the American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society (ANMS) Distinguished Scientist Award for Women in Neurogastroenterology at the ANMS 2021 Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts. This award is presented annually to recognize the outstanding contributions of women in advancing the field of neurogastroenterology through research, clinical expertise, leadership, mentorship and/or advocacy. Awardees are nominated by colleagues and the ANMS president and voted on by the ANMS council. The recipient is honored at the ANMS annual meeting and invited to present a state-of-the-art lecture during the meeting.

Dr. Taché was honored in recognition of her outstanding achievements and contributions to the field of neurogastroenterology and motility, including her pioneering work on brain-gut interactions and the role of peptides in the underlying mechanisms of stress-related gut dysfunction. Her talk was entitled “The role of brain peptides in the regulation of gut function: A 40 year journey.”


Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States - Here are the top signs and symptoms to look out for
Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States. Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, director, Melvin and Bren Simon Gastroenterology Quality Improvement Program and assistant professor of medicine and member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, discusses in Parade magazine the prevalence of colon cancer in the U.S. and the top signs and symptoms to look out for in colon cancer.


10 gastroenterologists to know
Becker’s Healthcare posted a list of 10 gastroenterologists to know and Dennis M. Jensen, MD, was included as a clinical/research leader in GI bleeding and recipient of the ASGE Endoscopy Rudolf V. Schindler Award. Dr. Jensen is director, CURE Hemostasis Research Group; principal investigator and director, NIH T32 GI Training Grant; associate director, UCLA CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center; and professor of medicine.


Five physicians leading top hospitals' GI departments
Eric Esrailian, MD, MPH, chief, Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, was list in a recent Becker’s Healthcare post on the leaders of GI departments/division that were ranked in the top five by U.S. New World and Report. Becker’s Healthcare is a go-to source for health care decision-makers and equips them with the information and forums they need to learn, exchange ideas and further conversations about the most critical issues in American health care.


Here's what happens to your poop habits when you go vegan
There are many reasons people decide to go vegan. Whether you jump on the vegan train for the health benefits, animal welfare, the planet, or because you simply want to try it, get ready to see some changes in the bathroom. “More and more research is showing the importance of the microbiome on our GI health,” says Nimah Ather, MD, health sciences clinical instructor of medicine. See more on the gut-poop-plant connection in WELL+GOOD.


Can fecal transplant reverse signs of brain aging?
Expert commentary by Emeran A. Mayer, MD, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience (CNSR) and co-director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center at UCLA Health, discusses new study findings revealing that transplanting fecal microbiota may reverse age-related declines in immunity, behavior and cognition in a recent Medscape article.


Gut health a key to living longer? Here's what some of the oldest living people have in common
Arpana Gupta, PhD, director of the Neuroimaging Core in the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, commented in Is Gut Health a Key to Living Longer? Here's What Some of the Oldest Living People in the World Have in Common published by WELL+GOOD. Dr. Gupta says the findings from a recent study published in Nature need to be interpreted with caution regarding long-term effects and the influence of diet, lifestyle or genetics. She notes that to make causal inferences — e.g., that secondary bile acids actually facilitate longevity — we need longitudinal studies that include a more geographically and ethnically diverse sample of individuals. "More studies are needed in order to determine a systems biology integrated approach that can account for not only the influence of how the socio-cultural environment we live in impacts our biology, but also how the gut communicates with other body systems, such as the brain," she says.


Passing of Dr. Tadataka "Tachi" Yamada
It is with both sadness and gratitude that we note the recent passing of one of the luminaries of our field who began his career at UCLA before going on to demonstrate leadership in academia, industry, and charitable foundations … along with being inspiration to everyone he came into contact with.
 
Dr. Tadataka Yamada — Tachi — passed away at the age of 76 on August 4, 2021. He came to UCLA’s Division of Digestive diseases as a fellow in July 1977. He completed his fellowship and joined the faculty as an assistant professor in July 1979. Dr. Yamada was attracted to UCLA because of his strong interest in peptide regulation of gastric secretions and their implications for treating gastric ulcers. He found a place among a strong group of more senior investigators working on the regulation of peptides, and he quickly secured NIH grants to pursue his research interests.
 
Dr. Yvette Taché, director, CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center - Animal Core, who was a member of the division during his early, UCLA days and maintained ties with him throughout the years, describes the lasting impact that UCLA had on his subsequent career. “When you look at Tachi’s research, about one third of his peer reviewed publications from 1977 to 1984 were in collaboration with UCLA researchers, including Drs. John Walsh (10 articles), Neil Kaplowitz (10 articles), Andrew Soll (7 articles), Haile Debas (5 articles), Morton Grossman (1 article), Janet Elahoff (5 articles) and Joseph Reeve (2 articles).” Dr. Taché continues, “His stay at UCLA rooted Tachi’s interest in peptide regulation of gastric function. Because he was extremely bright, he right away understood that we had to focus on molecular and functional approaches to peptic ulcer disease.” When he moved to the University of Michigan, where he later served as chief of gastroenterology and then as department chair of medicine, Dr. Yamada established an NIH-approved digestive disease center modeled on the center at UCLA.
 
After Michigan, he had extensive executive leadership roles in industry focused on research and development. He also had an impact on global health when he joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as president of its Global Health Program. At the Gates Foundation, he oversaw billions of dollars in programs that were directed at addressing health challenges of the developing world.
 
In recognition of his research and career accomplishments, he was a member of every major society in our field and was awarded among the highest honors in digestive diseases and medicine. Though few remain in the division who were his colleagues during his time at UCLA, we all feel the impact of his contributions to our division, to our field, and to the world.


Should you take aspirin to prevent colorectal cancer?
Mona Rezapour, MD, UCLA Health gastroenterologist, explains the guidelines for low-dose aspirin use and aspirin’s relationship to colorectal cancer in a recent UCLA Health blog.


How to deal with common digestive problems
Expert commentary by Mona Rezapour, MD, UCLA Health gastroenterologist, on how maintaining a food diary can reveal patterns that help identify foods that cause digestive issues was published in the Washington Post.


The connection between soil microbiomes and gut microbiomes
No matter where they exist — in microbiomes of the air, the oceans or our bodies— microbes "are a translator of food into health or, if they're corrupted, into disease," says Emeran A. Mayer, MD, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, whose new book, The Gut Immune Connection, delves into some of the finer points concerning human microbial communities.


Daily Bruin highlights study on how childhood adversity can alter biological makeup
UCLA researchers discovered a potential biological link between childhood hardship and increased stress and negative mood in adulthood, according to a study published in May in Neurobiology of Stress. Arpana Gupta, PhD, director of the neuroimaging core of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, was senior author of the study and Emeran A. Mayer, MD, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, and Vadim Osadchiy, MD, resident physician in the UCLA Department of Urology, were co-authors. In the National Institutes of Health-funded study, researchers studied healthy individuals who experienced adversities early in life such as physical or verbal abuse, natural disasters and family instability. Unlike previous studies, the subjects did not have an existing diagnosis of depression or other mental health disorders but did experience negative effects on mood and stress. The study’s aim was to demonstrate how childhood hardships could alter someone’s biological makeup through interactions of the brain and gut microbiome to increase vulnerability to increased anxiety and depression. Read the Daily Bruin article


Fola May, MD, PhD, MPhil, 80% blog interview with the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT)
On March 1, UCLA Health became the grand prize recipient of the NCCRT 2021 80% in Every Community Awards, a program designed to recognize individuals and organizations who are dedicating their time, talent and expertise to advancing initiatives that support the shared goal of achieving colorectal cancer screening rates of 80 percent and higher. Dr. May, director of the Melvin and Bren Simon GI Quality Improvement Program, was interviewed in a recent NCCRT blog on UCLA Health’s multifaceted approach to increasing colorectal cancer screenings despite COVID-19.


Researchers from the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience have been awarded a grant from Danone Nutricia Research to investigate the effect of perceived stress on cognitive, emotional, and autonomic responses, and the potential involvement of the gut microbiome, in a study entitled, “Cognitive and biological responses in stress”
The study aims to determine differences in cognitive and biological responses in individuals with higher or lower levels of perceived stress. The investigators will characterize people’s stress responses to laboratory-based stress tasks in three domains (attention/executive function, emotional, and performance stress). In addition, autonomic nervous system measures, circulating metabolite levels, and subjective measures such as mood and affect will also be acquired. Principal Investigator Dr. Arpana Gupta said, “We believe that stress can significantly impact health and disease. Alterations in autonomic, immune, and brain responses as well as cognitive performance have been identified in both animal and human studies. However, stress can also affect the gut microbiome (both by altering gut composition and function) and we are excited to investigate how stress impacts brain-gut microbiome interactions. We believe that it is crucial to characterize brain-gut microbiome mechanisms related to stress to better identify targets for intervention.” Co-Researcher Dr. Emeran A. Mayer, emphasizes the importance of the research project in identifying individuals that are at a higher risk for developing stress-related symptoms and disorders of the digestive system. “While we are all exposed to a variety of stressors, individuals with higher stress responsiveness are more likely to have gut symptoms, and patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and higher stress responsiveness report more symptom flares. Treatments that take stress responsiveness into account are likely to be more effective.” Co-Researcher Dr. Bruce Naliboff points out that “we know there are large individual differences in how each of us responds to life’s challenges and these differences can have a significant impact on one’s health. This new study will tackle how to identify individuals who show these potentially problematic responses and most importantly which parts of their stress system is most involved so we can better target new treatments.” “Stress affects us all, but some individuals seem to be less resilient than others and develop symptoms, including gastro-intestinal, that can ultimately affect their quality of life. A growing body of evidence supports that brain-gut-microbiome interactions play a major role in this. Thus, characterizing individuals with higher/lower levels of perceived stress based on their diet and gut microbiome will pave the way to future dietary solutions aiming to alleviate the burden of stress-related symptoms” said Dr. Boris Le Nevé, senior gut health scientist at Danone Nutricia Research. The researchers hope to reliably stratify groups of high and low perceived stress utilizing subjective measures, and to compare both groups using laboratory-based stress tasks and biological specimen sampling. This study will provide the foundation for further studies investigating potentially helpful products for individuals with high stress responses. The project will take 12 months to complete, and the team will begin recruiting participants via social media, outreach efforts in the local community health centers, community organizations, and students, staff, employees and leaders in the community at UCLA.


The pandemic may have helped some people with IBS
Kirsten Tillisch, MD, chief of integrative medicine at VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, was quoted in a Healthline article that referenced her 2020 study that found people with IBS who learned mindfulness-based stress reduction saw improvements in their symptoms. “My patients who had implemented a mindfulness practice prior to the pandemic found that they were able to use it to calm the mind and stay in the moment when the world around us was full of uncertainty,” Dr. Tillisch said. “Similarly, movement-based strategies like yoga, which many people were able to do even more often at home, allowed them to be more grounded.”


How long it takes to digest your food and 5 tips to improve the process
Craig Gluckman, MD, a gastroenterologist at UCLA Health West Hills, was quoted in the Insider story “How long it takes to digest your food and 5 tips to improve the process.”


UCLA Health physicians using Twitter to reach colleagues and public
Folsade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, director of the GI Quality Program, member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) and researcher at the UCLA Center for Cancer Prevention Control Research (CPCR) uses Twitter to share her research findings, as well as to promote her advocacy work around issues of social justice and health inequities. She also uses the platform to connect with the public about the importance of cancer screenings. Dr. May explains that Twitter is a platform where she can share public health concerns and energize the public and the medical community around important causes. Read the article in which Dr. May is quoted on her use of Twitter to share health care information.


Can that daily cup of Joe save you from liver disease?
Craig Gluckman, MD, a gastroenterologist at UCLA Health West Hills, was quoted in the MedPage Today story “Can that daily cup of Joe save you from liver disease?


Eating more of this food will help ward off depression and anxiety
Emeran A. Mayer, MD, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience (CNSR), co-director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research, provided expert commentary for an article in Woman’s World, Eating more of this food will help ward off depression and anxiety. Dr. Mayer discussed the link between altered gut microbial composition and major depressive disorders.


Best ways to curb digestive disorders
Consumer Reports interviewed Mona Rezapour, MD, UCLA gastroenterologist located in West Hills, on tracking food to determine the source of indigestion. MSNYahoo! News and Daily Magazine syndicated the Consumer Reports story.


Many IBD patients skipped or reduced medication doses during the COVID-19 pandemic
Everyday Health interviewed Berkeley Limketkai, MD, PhD, director of IBD clinical research for the Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, and Christina Gentile, PsyD, MA, ABPP, clinical health psychologist for the Integrative Digestive Health and Wellness Program, on decreased clinical visits and check-ups during the pandemic.


Learning to live with germs again
The New York Times interviewed Emeran A. Mayer, MD, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience and co-director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center at UCLA, on ways to support microbial health.


Exploiting marginalized groups for research
STAT News interviewed Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, director of the GI Quality Program, member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) and researcher at the UCLA Center for Cancer Prevention Control Research (CPCR), on a study that is sparking outrage over the unusually high number of Black patients it enrolled.


Eric Esrailian, MD, MPH, keynote speaker at Los Angeles Bioscience Ecosystem Summit 2021 (LA BEST)
Dr. Esrailian, chief of the Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, along with Gene Sykes, co-chairman of global mergers & acquisitions and co-chairman of the Global Technology, Media and Telecom Group / Goldman Sachs, were keynote speakers at LA BEST (formerly UCLA Bioscience Innovation Day). LA BEST is the premier showcase for bioscience innovation in Los Angeles County. The event features colleagues from across the county collaborating to present promising academic research, entrepreneurial faculty investigators, as well as local start-up companies. It is intended to promote awareness of the growing life science entrepreneurial ecosystem in Los Angeles and to foster partnerships with the biotechnology and life science industry. Learn more


Seven UCLA gastroenterologists named LA's Top Doctors 2021
Seven UCLA gastroenterologists were named to Los Angeles Magazine’s 2021 list of “Top Doctors” in Los Angeles. The results are based on a Los Angeles Magazine survey that asked physicians throughout Los Angeles County to identify doctors they considered to be at the top of their fields. Congratulations to Drs. Peter Anton, Lynn Shapiro Connolly, Terri Getzug, Kevin Ghassemi, Wendy Ho, Vikas K. Pabby and Jenny Sauk. Learn more about Los Angeles Magazine’s “Top Doctors.”


How long it takes to digest your food and five tips to improve the process
Business Insider interviewed Craig Gluckman, MD, UCLA gastroenterologist in West Hills, on the length of food digestion.


Are you eating foods that harm your "microbiome?'
HealthDay interviewed Emeran Mayer, MD, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience (CNSR) and co-director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center at UCLA, on the factors that influence the balance of bacteria in the gut microbiome, including genes, age, health conditions, medication use and stress. Merck ManualsWebMD and MedicineNet syndicated the HealthDay story.


How to nudge people into getting tested for the corona virus
New York Times interviewed Fola May, MD, PhD, MPhil, director of the GI Quality Program, member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) and researcher at the UCLA Center for Cancer Prevention Control Research (CPCR), on the impact of a false negative COVID-19 test in the workplace. Yahoo! News syndicated the New York Times article.


What a delay in colorectal cancer screening can mean and who should be most concerned
Good Morning America interviewed Fola May, MD, PhD, MPhil, director of the GI Quality Program, member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) and researcher at the UCLA Center for Cancer Prevention Control Research (CPCR), on lack of consistent colorectal cancer screenings for lower-income communities and BIPOC communities. ABC News syndicated the Good Morning America story


Radio interview: Pausing the administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine
KCBS-AM interviewed Fola May, MD, PhD, MPhil, director of the GI Quality Program, member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) and researcher at the UCLA Center for Cancer Prevention Control Research (CPCR), on pausing the administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.


From rotten teeth to advanced cancer, patients feel the effects of treatment delays during pandemic
Kaiser Health NewsWashington PostSeattle Times, California Healthline and Medical Express interviewed Dr. May on the drop in colonoscopy patient visits during the pandemic. Yellowstone Public Radio and Post Register also covered the story.


Radio interview: Vaccine acceptance in BIPOC communities
KCBS-AM interviewed Fola May, MD, PhD, MPhil, director of the GI Quality Program, member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) and researcher at the UCLA Center for Cancer Prevention Control Research (CPCR), on vaccine acceptance in BIPOC communities.


Increase of alcohol-related liver transplants in young women
Sammy Saab, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and medical director of the UCLA Pfleger Liver Institute, commented in a KNX-AM report on the increase of alcohol-related liver transplants in young women.


Increase of alcohol-related liver transplants in young women
Sammy Saab, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and medical director of the UCLA Pfleger Liver Institute, commented in a KNX-AM report on the increase of alcohol-related liver transplants in young women.


Increase of alcohol-related liver transplants in young women
Sammy Saab, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and medical director of the UCLA Pfleger Liver Institute, commented in a KNX-AM report on the increase of alcohol-related liver transplants in young women.


Is your ulcerative colitis-related stress under control? Take this assessment
Christina T. Gentile, PsyD, ABPP, GI health psychologist, and Berkeley Limketkai, MD, PhD, director of clinical research for the Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, are quoted in this EveryDay Health article on how anxiety and stress can trigger – or aggravate – inflammation and colitis, and vice versa. You can take an assessment to find out if there’s more you could be doing to manage stress – and what you can do to improve your quality of life.


How the Western diet is wreaking havoc on our gut
Berkeley Limketkai, MD, PhD, director of IBD clinical research for the UCLA Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, was quoted by Medium on the likelihood of toxins, pollutants or pesticides causing a rise in inflammation and IBD.


What you need to know about ulcerative colitis
Nimah Ather, MD, gastroenterologist at UCLA Health Torrance, was interviewed by The Healthy on treatment for ulcerative colitis.


Let's go there: A conversation about colorectal cancer with Cottonelle®, Deon Cole and BLKHLTH
Cottonelle® Brand hosted a candid round table discussion about colorectal cancer, health inequity, prevention, and stigmas within the Black community. Actor and comedian, Deon Cole led the discussion with health equity researcher at UCLA Health, Dr. Fola May and co-founder and president of BLKHLTH, Matthew McCurdy. Listen to conversation


Interview with Black News Channel (BNC) Morning Show
Fola May, MD, PhD, MPhil, director of GI quality for the UCLA Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, discusses the importance of colorectal cancer screening, especially for members of the Black community. In this interview with Mike Hill and Sharon Reed of the Black News Channel (BNC) morning show on March 25th, Dr. May explains that colorectal cancer disproportionally affects African Americans, due at least in part to social determinants of health and to differences in health care access and quality. Dr. May and the two hosts also discussed the galvanizing effect that Chadwick Boseman’s untimely death due to colorectal cancer was having on the Black community. Watch interview


ReachMD interview with Dr. Neil Nandi
Racial and ethnic bias prevent patients with colorectal cancer from receiving the highest quality of care. Dr. Neil Nandi is joined by Dr. Fola May, assistant professor of medicine at UCLA, to discuss racial inequities in access to care and screening for patients with colorectal cancer.


Lisa D. Lin, MD, MS, and Simi Singh, MD, selected for ASGE's 2021 Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Program
The purpose of the LEAD program is to provide the leadership knowledge and skills needed for academic or private practice medicine and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE). This was a highly competitive application year for LEAD, and only 20 participants are selected annually.


UCLA Health wins grand prize from National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) for colorectal cancer screening efforts during March's colorectal cancer awareness month
The National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT), founded by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is honoring ULCA Health as the grand prize winner of the 2021 80% In Every Community National Achievement Award, given in recognition of distinguished, ongoing efforts to increase colorectal cancer screening rates across the United States. 80% in Every Community is an NCCRT initiative that works with community health centers, health plans, hospitals, health systems, employers and others to reach 80 percent colorectal cancer screening rates nationally. More than 1,800 organizations have signed a pledge to make this goal a priority. "UCLA Health is honored by this award,” said Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil. “Over the past several years, our multidisciplinary colorectal cancer workgroup has worked hard to develop and implement initiatives at every level, from hosting awareness events and getting FIT kits in patients' hands to increasing colonoscopy uptake and navigating patients through follow-up after abnormal screening. We are proud of the progress so far and look forward to increasing our efforts locally and beyond toward 80 percent of the population screened."


Fola P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, is a founding member of the Association of Black Gastroenterologists and Hepatologists (ABGH)
On February 26, 2021, the Association of Black Gastroenterologists and Hepatologists (ABGH) was launched. Founded by a group of 11 physician co-founders and board members, ABGH is a non-profit organization created to improve the disproportionately negative digestive health outcomes in Black communities, foster physician networking, develop the next generation of trainees and promote scholarship. For more information about the ABGH mission, its values, and how to get involved and support their efforts, please visit blackingastro.org or follow the hashtag #blackingastro.


Change requires visibility, action and trust
Healio interviewed Daniel Greenwald, MD, medical oncologist and hematologist at Santa Barbara Cancer Care, and Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, research collaborator at the UCLA Center for Cancer Prevention Control Research and member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, on ways to combat health disparities experienced by Black communities.


California's latest COVID vaccine shakeup: Will it improve equity in the Bay area?
The San Jose Mercury News interviewed Fola P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, research collaborator at the UCLA Center for Cancer Prevention Control Research and member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, on targeting underserved communities for vaccine distribution in California. East Bay Times syndicated the report.


Lin Chang, MD, recipient of 2021 AGA Distinguished Educator Award
Created in 1988, the Distinguished Educator Award recognizes an individual for achievements as an outstanding educator. As director of UCLA’s GI fellowship program — one of the nation’s largest — for the last eight years, Dr. Chang has fostered a culture that has celebrated each fellow’s individual strengths while empowering them to pursue their own academic interests and goals. She has also contributed to education on a national and international level, including developing curriculum for gastroenterologists as a former director of the AGA postgraduate course; organizing multiple regional and national conferences and delivering more than 500 lectures locally, nationally and internationally as a leading expert in the field of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other common brain-gut disorders.


Yvette Taché, PhD, receives ANMS Distinguished Scientist Award for Women in Neurogastroenterology
Dr. Taché, distinguished research professor in the division, will receive the American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society (ANMS) Distinguished Scientist Award for Women in Neurogastroenterology at the society’s annual meeting in August. The award is given in recognition of Dr. Taché’s landmark discoveries and pioneering work on brain-gut interactions and the role of specific peptides in the underlying mechanisms of stress-related gut dysfunction and vagal regulation of upper gut function. The latest of Dr. Taché’s many career awards carries particular meaning. In 1982, the year Dr. Taché joined the division’s faculty, neurogastroenterology wasn’t even a descriptor she was able to use when submitting her abstract for the American Gastroenterology Association’s annual meeting. But Dr. Taché and her UCLA colleagues helped to change that with groundbreaking research establishing the importance of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) in stress-related gut function alterations, leading to a growing interest in CRF receptor antagonists as potential therapeutic agents for functional diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome. More about the Taché Lab


Vay Liang W. “Bill” Go, MD, recipient of 2021 American Gastroenterology Association (AGA) Distinguished Mentor Award
Dr. Go, co-director, UCLA Agi Hirschberg Center for Pancreatic Diseases and distinguished professor of medicine, has been selected as the recipient of the 2021 AGA Distinguished Mentor Award. Established in 2004, this honor recognizes an individual for achievements as an outstanding mentor. Over the course of a career spanning five decades in research, education, administration and public service in gastroenterology at the Mayo Clinic Rochester, National Institutes of Health and UCLA, Dr. Go has trained and mentored more than 90 fellows, MDs, and PhDs in the fields of gastroenterology and pancreatology. The fact that so many of his mentees went on to prestigious leadership roles throughout the U.S. and abroad — in many cases becoming prolific mentors in their own right — has led colleagues to call Dr. Go the “mentor of mentors.


Wael El-Nachef, MD, PhD, awarded NIH/NIDDK K08 Career Development Award
Dr. El-Nachef, assistant clinical professor of medicine, received a notice of award from the NIH/NIDDK for a K08 Career Development Award. His proposal, "Exploring Neural Crest Stem Cell-Derived Enteric Neurogenesis in Post-Embryonic Development and Regeneration" builds upon his prior work in zebrafish and aims to better understand the contribution of extra-intestinal progenitor cells to the enteric nervous system. Mentors on this award are Harry Pothoulakis, MD, director of basic research for the UCLA Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases and director of the UCLA Center for Systems Biomedicine, and Marianne Bronner, PhD, director of the Beckman Institute at Caltech.


Arpan A. Patel, MD, PhD, receives 2021 pilot project grant
Dr. Patel, assistant clinical professor of medicine, received a $20,000 one-year pilot grant from the Southern California Research Center for ALPD and Cirrhosis. The grant, Patient Navigation for Hospitalized Patients with Alcohol-Associated Liver Disease: A Feasibility Pilot Study, involves using implementation science methods to integrate alcohol use disorder brief treatment strategies in patients who are hospitalized. Dr. Patel is working with the UCLA liver transplantation team and addiction psychiatry services on this effort. More on Patel Lab


Eric Esrailian, MD, MPH, and Fola May, MD, PhD, MPhil, Selected Los Angeles' Top Doctors by Los Angeles Business Journal
Each year, Los Angeles Business Journal selects outstanding medical professionals from almost 20 specialties based on their good standing, reputation, thought leadership and success. This year, Drs. Esrailian and May were among the UCLA Health physicians who were honored as being Los Angeles' Top Doctors.


Fola P. May, MD, PhD, appointed to the Expert Advisory Board of Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology
Dr. May, director of the Melvin and Bren Simon GI Quality Improvement Program and health services researcher in the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, was recently appointed to the expert advisory board of Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology for a two-year term. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology has been in circulation since 2004 and received a 2019 Impact Factor of 29.848. As a member of the advisory board, Dr. May will serve as a champion for the journal within the medical and scientific communities, provide expert opinions, and contribute journal content ideas.


Fola P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, quoted on concerns over low vaccination rates and disproportionate deaths in black and brown communities
CNN quoted Dr. May, research collaborator at the UCLA Center for Cancer Prevention Control Research and member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, in a story about disparities in vaccination rates between whites and BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color) communities. Dr. May spoke about the vaccination disparity between these groups among health care workers. NBC News interviewed Dr. May on concerns over low vaccination rates and disproportionate deaths in BIPOC communities. ForbesAxiosYahoo! News and The Grio syndicated the NBC News story. Dr. May also commented on the same topic in a Scientific American story. PBS Newshour and Huffington Post syndicated the Scientific American story. Politico also interviewed Dr. May on the concern that patients not connected to a health system may lack the ability to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.


James Tabibian, MD, PhD, discusses telehealth
Dr. Tabibian, director of endoscopy at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, was an invited blog post for Guidepoint global expert network to provide an overview on the history of telehealth; clarification on similarities and differences among “telehealth,” “telemedicine” and “virtual health;” commentary on COVID-19’s impact on the field and perspectives on areas for growth and development.


Colorectal cancer screenings at home – Stool-based tests could increase access to colorectal cancer screening
Cancer Today interviewed Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, research collaborator at the UCLA Center for Cancer Prevention Control Research and member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, on the noninvasive options available for colorectal cancer screening.