Clinical Programs

Clinical Programs

Inflammatory bowel diseases

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), primarily comprising Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, are chronic inflammatory disorders of the intestinal tract. The incidence and prevalence of IBD has been steadily increasing throughout the world. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated 3.1 million individuals (1.3% of the population) in the United States to have IBD. The cause of IBD is unclear and there is yet no known cure. Nonetheless, some factors that cause IBD and influence its severity are believed to involve genetic risk, the gut microbiome, gut-brain interactions, and environmental triggers. Current medical treatments primarily focus on directly suppressing a hyperactive immune response, while cutting-edge research has begun to focus on novel therapeutic approaches that also address the other factors that cause IBD.

Experienced IBD clinicians at the UCLA Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases work closely with other specialists, such as nutritionists, psychologists, integrative health practitioners, colorectal surgeons, and radiologists, to provide the highest-level service in the evaluation and treatment of individuals with IBD. We also collaborate with researchers in efforts toward discovering novel treatment approaches, advancing patient-centered care, and finding a cure.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of several so called functional GI disorders lacking a reliable diagnostic biomarker and diagnosis currently relies on symptomology (chronic abdominal pain associated with altered bowel habits) meeting Rome IV criteria. Based on an extensive amount of scientific and epidemiological evidence, the syndrome is now recognized as a disorder of gut-brain interaction characterized by altered bidirectional interactions between gut and brain, with a modulatory role of the gut microbiota and female sex hormones involving multiple possible etiologies. Recent evidence suggests substantial interplay of gut motility and sensation, epigenetic, gut microbial, and possibly immune mucosal disturbances, along with altered central processing of visceral signals from the gut and psychosocial aspects.

Experienced clinicians in the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases at UCLA provide a patient-centered care with a comprehensive, state-of-the-art evaluation and treatment approach. Patients are primarily seen in Westwood but also at the other UCLA Health outpatient GI clinics in the greater Los Angeles area.

Liver Disease

Nearly one out of every four individuals in the US have some form of liver disease. This includes viral hepatitis, alcoholic liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, autoimmune hepatitis, as well as many others. With decades of research, such chronic liver diseases, like hepatitis C, are now curable while others are very treatable. However, many others like nonalcoholic fatty liver disease have no approved medical treatments. With extensive research into the field of liver disease, recent evidence has linked the gut and its microbiome to the development and progression of various chronic liver diseases. Research has shown that the gut microbiome is an integral component of the immune system development, chronic inflammation, lipid metabolism, nutrient absorption, hormonal regulation, insulin resistance and cell signaling.

Experienced clinicians in the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases work closely with researchers and other specialist such as transplant surgeons, dietitians, endocrinologists, integrative health practitioners, oncologists, and radiologists to provide state-of-the-art evaluation and care for patients with chronic liver disease. Patients are seen in Westwood and Santa Monica as well as other UCLA Health outpatient hepatology clinics in the greater Los Angeles area including the West Los Angeles Veterans Affair Hospital System.

Mental Health and Pain Management

The importance of mental health for both children and adults has never been clearer than in recent years. Nor has the importance of discovering new approaches to prevent and alleviate suffering from the wide range of mental health problems that confront our community. In a similar way the devastating costs of inadequately treating chronic pain have become a national tragedy and have spurned new efforts to understand and develop pain therapies. The Mental Health and Pain Research Program of the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center is involved in cutting edge research in these areas and is part of the wider UCLA Health System programs for both mental health services and pain management. The Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA is widely considered to be the premier psychiatric hospital in the western United States and along with its affiliated specialty programs provides comprehensive inpatient and outpatient services for all types of mental health issues, from serious mental and neuropsychiatic disorders to more common anxiety and stress related issues. The UCLA Comprehensive Pain Center is located in the Anesthesiology Department and offers pain treatment services from diagnosis to interventional pain procedures to behavioral interventions. 

Obesity, Metabolic Disorders and Eating Behavior

The prevalence of obesity has risen to its highest levels in history. Obesity and its related comorbidities are the leading medical problems of developed countries worldwide. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of efficacious and easily adaptable treatment options to combat this growing epidemic. One reason is because research is still underway to help explain the pathogenesis of obesity. Recent evidence suggests a substantial role of the gut, its microbiome, and the brain in the development and progression of obesity. The brain gut microbiome system is this interconnected network between the brain and the gut microbiome and its related-metabolites and hormone signaling. Research has shown the brain gut microbiome system to be integral in the development of food addiction, weight gain, metabolism, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome, and insulin resistance. 

Experienced clinicians at UCLA Health have partnered with seasoned researchers to explore the field of the brain gut microbiome system and how it effects obesity and obesity related comorbidities. Research and clinical care is focused on helping patients have better understanding and control over their weight. Patients can be seen at the Center for Obesity and Metabolic Health (COMET). Patients are primarily seen in Westwood but also at the other UCLA Health outpatient GI clinics in the greater Los Angeles area including the West Los Angeles Veterans Affair Hospital System.