Lin Chang, MD

Principal investigator

  • Lin Chang, MD

Investigating the cause and treatments of IBS and other disorders of gut-brain interaction

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal (GI) disorder characterized by recurrent or chronic abdominal pain associated with diarrhea and/or constipation. IBS has been redefined as a disorder of gut-brain interaction (DGBI), which is classified by GI symptoms related to any combination of the following: motility disturbance, visceral hypersensitivity, altered mucosal and immune function, altered gut microbiota, and altered central nervous system (CNS) processing. Other DGBI include, but not limited to, functional dyspepsia (epigastric pain syndrome and postprandial distress syndrome), chronic constipation, and chronic diarrhea. These conditions are among the most common in primary care and gastroenterology practices. They are diagnosed based on predominant symptoms. The cause of IBS is multifactorial but is not well understood. There are a number of over-the-counter, prescription medications and brain-gut behavioral therapies that can reduce symptoms of IBS and other DGBI and improve quality of life.

Dr. Chang is vice-chief of the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases. She is a gastroenterologist and physician scientist who serves as co-director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience (CNSR), an interdisciplinary center with a research and clinical focus on the interactions of pain, stress and emotions in health and disease. She helped to lead the CNSR’s NIH Specialized Centers of Research Excellence (SCORE), which has been funded since 2012. The SCORE grant focuses on sex differences in brain-gut interactions mainly with regard to IBS. Dr. Chang is multi-PI of current SCORE grant, which focuses on sex differences in brain-gut microbiome interactions in IBS and chronic constipation. She has been performing clinical and translational research studies, including clinical treatment trials for over 25 years. Her research has focused on brain-gut interactions, specifically the role of sex, stress, epigenetics, clinical symptoms, health outcomes, and treatment in IBS. Her clinical expertise is in disorders of gut-brain interactions, including IBS, functional dyspepsia, chronic constipation or diarrhea, and chronic abdominal pain. Her other leadership experience includes serving as program director of the UCLA GI Fellowship Program, past clinical research councilor of the AGA Governing Board, past president of the American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society (ANMS), and member of the Rome Foundation Board of Directors. She is also a member of the GI division’s T32 NIH training grant selection committee.

Affiliate groups

  • G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience (CNSR)
  • UCLA Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center

Key collaborators

  • Tien S. Dong, MD, PhD
  • Arpana Gupta, PhD
  • Jonathan P. Jacobs, MD, PhD
  • Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN
  • Jennifer Labus, PhD
  • Muriel Larauche, PhD
  • Swapna Mahurkar-Joshi, PhD
  • Emeran A. Mayer, MD
  • Bruce Naliboff, PhD
  • Arpan A. Patel, MD, PhD
  • Jenny Sauk, MD
  • Alireza Sedarat, MD
  • Catia Sternini, MD
  • Yvette Taché, PhD
  • Elizabeth Videlock, MD, PhD
  • Guy Weiss, MD
  • Pu-Qing Yuan, PhD

Extramural funding

  • UCLA Technology Development Group
  • Philanthropy
  • Industry

Current research projects

Specialized Center for Neurovisceral Sciences & Women’s Health (SCORE Center funded by NIDDK)

  • Sex differences in brain-gut-microbiome interactions in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and chronic constipation
    • Differences between post-menopausal women vs pre-menopausal women with and without IBS
    • Effect of menstrual cycle phase in IBS symptoms
    • Differences between male and female patients with IBS and healthy controls
    • Effect of digital cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program

Disorders of Gut-Brain Interaction (Functional GI) Program

  • Diet in IBS, including low FODMAP and Mediterranean diet, and association with symptoms and microbiome
  • Genetic and genomic biomarkers in blood and colon tissue in IBS (SNPs, DNA methylation, microRNA)
  • Diagnostic test for IBS
  • Role of early life adversity and resilience in IBS
  • Efficacy of neurostimulation for abdominal pain in adult patients with IBS
  • 3-dimensional imaging and computational quantification of extrinsic and intrinsic innervation and nerve-mast/glial cell spatial relationship in the colonic mucosa of patients with IBS
  • Feasibility study evaluating utility of magnetic gastric capsule in gastroparesis and functional dyspepsia
  • Visceral sensitivity index in inflammatory bowel disease (VSI-IBD) to measure GI symptom related anxiety in IBD patients
  • Vibrating colon capsule for chronic constipation

Key publications

The role of sex differences in the clinical presentation and pathophysiology of IBS

The role of chronic stress and early adverse life events in IBS

Mechanisms underlying pain perception in IBS

Health outcomes in IBS

Full list of published work

Web of Science ID AAI-4333-2021

Current residents and GI fellows

  • Preetha Iyengar, MD
  • Rahul Kamath, MD
  • Wendi LeBrett, MD
  • Anna H. Lee, MD
  • Rachel Sarnoff, MD

Past GI fellows

  • Ellie Chen, MD
  • Frank Chen, MD
  • Ashwinee S. Condon, MD
  • Dean Ehrlich, MD
  • Adrienne Lenhart, MD
  • Lisa D. Lin, MD, MS
  • Rusha Modi, MD
  • Benjamin Nulsen, MD
  • Sarah Park, MD
  • Saumya Pathak, MD
  • Lynn Shapiro Connolly, MD, MSCR
  • Kim Trieschmann, MD
  • Trinh Troung, MD
  • Elizabeth Videlock, MD, PhD