Bridget L. Callaghan, PhD

Bridget L. Callaghan, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
Division of Life Sciences, UCLA College of Letters and Sciences

Dr. Callaghan is an assistant professor of psychology, in the Department of Psychology at UCLA, where she leads a laboratory studying interactions between mental and physical health across development, and the impact that early caregiving relationships (particularly adverse caregiving) have on those interactions. Dr. Callaghan's lab is investigating the gastrointestinal and oral microbiome as pathways via which stressful early experiences may get 'under the skin' to influence physical and mental health. They are also examining the microbiome as a mediator of intergenerational and transgenerational effects of adversity on youth health outcomes. Dr. Callaghan's research has been generously funded through the National Institutes of Mental Health, Brain Behavior Research Foundation, and National Health and Medical Research Council. She has received several honors including the Federation of the Association of Behavioral and Brain Sciences Early Career Impact Award, and the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology Kucharski Young Investigator Award, and was named as a 'rising star' by the Association for Psychological Science. She received her BA and PhD in psychology and her masters in clinical psychology from the University of New South Wales in Australia. She has worked clinically in the field of developmental psychology, and completed her postdoctoral training at Columbia University. Dr. Callaghan is also a faculty-in-residence at UCLA where she lives in the Residential Halls with UCLA undergraduates, building community through programming and mentorship.

Lin Chang, MD

Lin Chang, MD

Vice Chief, Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
Program Director, UCLA GI Fellowship Program
Co-Director, G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience
Professor of Medicine
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Chang earned her medical degree from the UCLA School of Medicine and completed her internship and residency in internal medicine at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. She completed her gastroenterology fellowship training at the UCLA affiliated training program in gastroenterology. Dr. Chang’s clinical expertise is in disorders of gut-brain interactions which include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic constipation and functional dyspepsia. Her research is focused on the pathophysiology of IBS related to stress, sex differences, genetic and epigenetic factors, neuroendocrine alterations, and gut microbiome and the treatment of IBS. She is the co-director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, vice-chief of the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases at UCLA and program director of the UCLA Gastroenterology Fellowship Program. Dr. Chang is a recipient of the Janssen Award in Gastroenterology for Basic or Clinical Research, AGA Distinguished Clinician Award, and AGA Distinguished Educator Award. She has authored more than 150 original research articles, 60 review articles and 29 book chapters on her specialty interests and is a frequent speaker at national and international meetings. Active in professional organizations, she is a member of the Rome Foundation Board of Directors and previously served as clinical research councilor of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Governing Board and president of the American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society (ANMS). She also serves as Associate Editor of the journal, Gastroenterology. She is a fellow of the AGA and American College of Gastroenterology (ACG).

Tien S. Dong, MD, PhD

Tien S. Dong, MD, PhD

Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Dong graduated with distinction from Stanford University with a BS in biological sciences. He subsequently received his MD from the University of Chicago. He completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Chicago, where he stayed on as faculty for an additional year as a liver hospitalist. While at the University of Chicago, he trained in the laboratory of Dr. Eugene Chang where he investigated the role of the gut microbiome on microRNAs and colon cancer. He then joined UCLA as a gastroenterology fellow in 2016 and continued his research training at UCLA through the Specialty Training and Advanced Research (STAR) program under the mentorship of Dr. Joseph Pisegna and Dr. Jonathan P. Jacobs. He finished his PhD in molecular, cellular and integrative physiology in 2020. Dr. Dong is board certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology.
 
Dr. Dong's research interest involves machine learning and how the intestinal microbiome influences the development of obesity, metabolic syndrome, chronic liver disease, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. His clinical interests include cirrhosis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, alcoholic liver disease, autoimmune hepatitis and other chronic liver diseases.

Jennifer A. Fulcher, MD, PhD

Jennifer A. Fulcher, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Infectious Diseases Section, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System

Arpana “Annie” Gupta, PhD

Arpana Gupta, PhD

Co-Director, Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center
Director, Neuroimaging Core, G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience
Ingestive Behavior and Obesity Program
Associate Professor
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Gupta completed a PhD degree in psychology, followed by an APA accredited clinical internship at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical Center. Her programmatic line of research focuses on the interactions between environmental and biological factors in shaping neurobiological phenotypes associated with stress-based diseases such as obesity. Broadly defined, her research aims to integrate two systems (the brain and the gut) in order to better understand the underlying mechanisms associated with obesity and altered ingestive behaviors. The application of a “systems biology” approach to her research allows her to test the interactions between multiple factors, both inside and outside the body (e.g., sex, race, brain, microbiome, inflammation, environment), in order to better understand the complex pathophysiology of obesity. This is relevant to obesity, as it is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, and disproportionately affects ethnic minorities and women. These alarming projections have led to NIH and Healthy People 2020 priority initiatives directed at reducing ethnic and sex disparities. Her goal is to develop a comprehensive model that provides a powerful and sensitive biomarker that will increase biological readouts of obesity and altered ingestive behaviors, thus bringing to the forefront those individuals who are at increased risk as a result of disadvantaged backgrounds.

In order to pursue this line of research she recently received a R01 grant from NIMHD (NIH) on the “Social Isolation and Discrimination as Stressors Influencing Brain-Gut Microbiome Alterations among Filipino and Mexican American.” She has also received several industry funded grants as PI and till date she has published over 70 peer-reviewed articles. These grants have allowed her to focus on the following main themes of research: 1) Investigate how novel pathways related to the brain-gut-microbiome (BGM) system may explain modulation of signals from the gut-microbiome on the brain via systemic immune activation; 2) Explain how risk factors associated with socio-cultural and environmental stressors “get under the skin” and are embedded in biology; 3) Identify subgroup differences (e.g., race and sex) related to obesity; 4) Model longitudinal patterns and changes across the lifespan as they relate to obesity in order to help predict risk factors leading up to the development of obesity while being able to identify prognostic markers and 5) Determine changes associated with various interventions (e.g., brain-targeted such as cognitive behavioral therapy, or gut-based such as specific diets) directed at altered ingestive behaviors and obesity.
 

Andrea L. Hevener, PhD

Andrea L. Hevener, PhD

Professor
Sidney Roberts and Clara Szego Roberts Chair in Molecular Endocrinology
Department of Medicine Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Hypertension
UCLA

Elaine Y. Hsiao, PhD

Elaine Y. Hsiao, PhD

Co-Director, Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center
De Logi Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
Department of Integrative Biology & Physiology
Division of Life Sciences, UCLA College of Letters & Sciences
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, Department of Medicine
Department of Microbiology, Immunology, Molecular Genetics
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Hsiao is De Logi Associate Professor of Biological Sciences in the Department of Integrative Biology & Physiology, where she leads a laboratory studying fundamental interactions between the microbiome, brain and behavior, and their applications to neurological disorders. Inspired by the interplay between the microbiota and nervous system, the Hsiao laboratory is mining the human microbiota for microbial modulators of host neuroactive molecules, investigating the impact of microbiota-immune system interactions on neurodevelopment and examining the microbiome as an interface between gene-environment interactions in neurological diseases. Their discoveries have led to several honors, including the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Ben Barres Career Award, Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering, Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in Neuroscience, Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship in Neuroscience, Kavli Fellowship of the National Academy of Sciences, National Institutes of Health Director’s Early Independence Award, Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Science and Healthcare and National Geographic’s Emerging Explorer Award. She received her PhD in neurobiology from Caltech, and her BS in microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics form UCLA.

Jonathan P. Jacobs, MD, PhD

Jonathan Jacobs, MD, PhD

Co-Director, Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center
Assistant Professor-in-Residence
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Jacobs graduated magna cum laude with highest honors from Harvard University with an AB in biochemistry. He subsequently received his MD from Harvard Medical School, graduating magna cum laude in a special field. During college and medical school, he trained in the laboratory of Diane Mathis and Christophe Benoist where he investigated the immunologic mechanisms of an autoantibody-mediated model of arthritis. This research was supported by a fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and resulted in three first-author publications, including one in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Stanford University then joined UCLA as a gastroenterology fellow in 2010. He pursued additional research training at UCLA through the Specialty Training and Advanced Research (STAR) program under the mentorship of Jonathan Braun. He was awarded a PhD in cellular and molecular pathology in 2015 and afterwards joined the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases faculty. He co-founded the UCLA Microbiome Center in 2015 and now directs the Microbiome Core, which provides a comprehensive suite of microbiome-related services to support microbiome research by the UCLA scientific community.

Dr. Jacobs’ research explores the role of intestinal microbes in the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other gastrointestinal disorders. This involves a translational approach that includes detailed characterization of patients’ microbiome by 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing, metagenomics, and metabolomics as well as modeling of the effect of disease-associated human microbial communities in humanized gnotobiotic mice (i.e. germ-free mice colonized with human microbiota). His research has been published in a number of scientific journals including Gastroenterology, Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Gut Microbes, Genome Medicine, Scientific Reports, and Microbiome. He also authored a review article, commentary, and two textbook chapters on intestinal host-microbiome interactions. His ongoing projects employ animal models and multi’omics analysis of patient cohorts to define the role of IBD-associated genes in shaping the intestinal microbiome and to identify microbes and microbial products that promote IBD, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, and other diseases.

Swapna Joshi, PhD

Swapna Joshi, PhD

Adjunct Assistant Professor
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Joshi co-leads research projects on developing epigenetic biomarkers for GI diseases. She has published in peer-reviewed journals including Nature and Gastroenterology and serves as a review editor on several journals and guest editor for Frontiers in Physiology. Dr. Joshi is the recipient of several awards including the American Journal of Gastroenterology (AGA) young investigator award in 2018 and 2019.

Lisa Kilpatrick, PhD

Lisa Kilpatrick, PhD

Associate Researcher
G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Kilpatrick graduated from UCLA with a BS with honors in cognitive science and a BS in mathematics. Subsequently, she earned a MA in experimental psychology from Radford University and a PhD in biological sciences from University of California Irvine (UCI). At UCI, she trained with Dr. Larry Cahill, investigating sex differences in the role of the amygdala in emotional memory. Dr. Kilpatrick returned to UCLA to train with Drs. Bruce Naliboff and Emeran A. Mayer as a postdoctoral fellow, who continued to foster her interest in sex differences in the neurobiological correlates of emotional processes, including pain, stress, and resilience, in the context of irritable bowel syndrome and other pain conditions. 

Her work has focused on the brain-related aspects of the connection between the brain and body that positively or negatively impact health in multiple research areas with a brain-body aspect, including disrupted brain-gut communication in obesity, brain signatures related to self‐body perception before and after cross-sex hormone therapy in transgender individuals, facial dysmorphia-brain morphological relationships in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder due to prenatal alcohol exposure, and the impact of mind-body interventions on brain functional organization in late-life depression. Further, she has sought to understand the influence of sex on brain-body dysregulation, as an important step towards tailoring effective and beneficial therapies to the individual. 

Jennifer S. Labus, PhD

Jennifer S. Labus, PhD

Director, Integrative Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Core, G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience
Adjunct Professor of Medicine
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
 
Dr. Labus is an adjunct professor in the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases in the Department of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is the director of the Integrative Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Core in the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress at UCLA and the UCLA Microbiome Center. 

Dr. Labus is a research scientist and an applied statistician with expertise in biostatistics, bioinformatics, treatment-outcome research, pain neuroscience, multimodal brain imaging, microbiome, metabolomics, and multi-omics integrative analysis. Using state-or-the-art computational, biostatistical, and bioinformatics, she performs large-scale integrative analyses to assesses the complex interactions between various levels of biological data (e.g., microbiome, metabolomics, immune markers, multimodal brain imaging data) with clinical phenotypes. The overall goal of her systems-based biological approach is to elucidate the underlying physiological mechanisms of health and disease, provide new targets for treatment, improve existing treatments and advance precision-based medicine. She is currently applying this state-of-the-art approach to study chronic pain, obesity, autism, cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Labus has made seminal contributions to mapping neural networks underlying visceral pain and elucidating brain-gut-microbiome axis in humans. As a result, she was the recipient of the 2011 Master’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Basic or Clinical Digestive Sciences, American Gastroenterology Association. Dr. Labus has been the recipient of a K08 Career Development award, Effective connectivity of central response in irritable bowel disorder, from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). She has served as the primary investigator on two grants funded by the National Institute of Childhood Health and Human Development (NICHD): R01HD076756 Profiling vulvodynia subtypes based on neurobiological and behavioral endophenotypes and R21HD086737 Deriving novel biomarkers of localized provoked vulvodynia through metabolomics: A biological system-based approach. Labus is a co-investigator on several NIH and industry funded grants, international research collaborations, and is actively involved in mentoring undergraduate, graduate and medical students and postdoctoral fellows.

Jeffrey Lackner, PsyD

Jeffrey Lackner, PsyD

Professor and Chief 
Division of Behavioral Medicine
Vice Chair of Research
Department of Medicine 
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo

Dr. Lackner received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Rutgers University before completing his residency at the University of Texas Medical School (Houston). After completing a post-doctoral fellowship in behavioral medicine/pain at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, he joined the faculty of the University of Buffalo School of Medicine. There, he Is professor and chief of the Division of Behavioral Medicine in the Department of Medicine. His main areas of scholarship involve developing and testing brief, low intensity behavioral self-management treatments for centralized pain disorders, identifying the biobehavioral mechanisms that underlie benefits, and identifying for whom they are most effective. The treatment his team has developed is regarded as one of the most effective treatments in its class and one of the few that provide multisymptomatic relief across the full spectrum of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients for whom there is no satisfactory medical option. His work has informed practice guidelines in US, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Sweden Canada and UK as part of its rigorous NICE recommendations. Informed by longstanding collaborations with UCLA collaborators, the depth, novelty, and breadth of this work has helped transform our understanding of IBS from an intractable “psychosomatic/psychiatric” condition to a complex centrally-mediated pain disorder with precise cognitive-affective vulnerabilities amenable to behavioral change. The impact of Dr. Lackner’s work, published in top tier medical and behavioral science journals, has earned him fellowships with the American Gastroenterological Association, Society of Behavioral Medicine, Association for Psychological Science, Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, and the Division of Health Psychology of the American Psychological Association. His current collaborations with UCLA focus on establishing the efficacy profile and active ingredients for brief, low intensity behavioral treatments for patients with treatment-resistant pelvic pain.
 

Berkeley Limketkai, MD, PhD

Berkeley Limketkai, MD, PhD

Director of Clinical Research, UCLA Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Health Sciences Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Limketkai received his medical degree from the University of Cincinnati, where he was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha honor society. He subsequently completed his internal medicine residency, gastroenterology fellowship, and PhD education at Johns Hopkins University. His doctoral dissertation explored the role of vitamin D in IBD pathogenesis and severity. Given his clinical and research interests in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and nutrition, Dr. Limketkai pursued advanced training as the Theodore M. Bayless Fellow in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases at Johns Hopkins University and clinical nutrition training through the Nestlé Nutrition Institute.
 
Prior to joining UCLA, Dr. Limketkai served on the clinical faculty at Stanford University and as lead IBD physician at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. He also spearheaded the Gastrointestinal Nutrition Program and initiated the Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) Program at Stanford. 
 
As director of IBD clinical research, Dr. Limketkai is keenly interested in studying the relationship between [mal]nutrition and IBD, developing evidence-based frameworks for precision nutrition, and analyzing large data of clinical outcomes and health services utilization. Dr. Limketkai has also been actively involved in the technology and innovation space, previously working as a developer at an Internet startup, contributing to several drug and device development projects, and completing a biodesign fellowship at UCLA. Ongoing endeavors include applying technology (e.g., digital health, artificial intelligence) for nutrition and gastroenterology.
 

Cathy Liu

Cathy Liu

Programmer/Analyst
G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Aldons J. “Jake” Lusis, PhD

Aldons J. “Jake” Lusis, PhD

Professor, Microbiology, Human Genetics and Medicine
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Lusis’ lab studies naturally occurring genetic variations in mice and in humans to help understand interactions underlying complex cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. A major focus of the lab has been integrate clinical traits with “intermediate" phenotypes obtained using high throughput technologies such as RNA sequencing, metabolomics, or proteomics, an approach known as "systems genetics" (Seldin et al. 2019 Nature Metab. 1:1038-1050). To facilitate this approach, they have developed a reference resource termed the Hybrid Mouse Diversity Panel (HMDP) that can be used to carry out whole-genome association mapping and analyze complex genetic interactions (Norheim et al. 2019 Cell Metab. 29; 1-18). Current research projects include atherosclerosis, heart failure, fatty liver disease and obesity.

Emeran A. Mayer, MD

Emeran A. Mayer, MD

Founding Director, Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center
Director, G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience
Professor of Medicine, Physiology and Psychiatry
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Mayer received his MD degree from the Ludwig Maximilian’s University in Munich, Germany, in 1976, completed his residency at the Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, and his GI fellowship training at the UCLA/VA Wadsworth Training Program. Dr. Mayer has a career long interest in clinical and research aspects of brain body interactions, with a longstanding focus on the bidirectional communication between the brain and the gut in health and disease. He is recognized as one of the leading investigators in the world of brain gut microbiome interactions in gastrointestinal disorders, including chronic visceral pain, functional and inflammatory bowel disorders, ingestive behavior and obesity. He has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1989.

He has been PI of a NIH Center grant on sex differences in functional GI disorders for the past 18 years, and PI on a NIDDK funded U01 consortium grant of brain bladder interactions for 18 years, co-PI on a grant by the Department of Defense on brain gut microbiome interactions in autism spectrum disorders, co-PI on a Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation grant on brain-gut-microbiome signatures of stress-related IBD symptom flares, and co-PI on a NIH U19 consortium grant and a RO1 grant on brain gut microbiome interactions in Alzheimer’s disease.

He has published 401 peer-reviewed articles in the leading GI and neuroscience journals, including 100 reviews and book chapters and has co-edited three books. His articles have been cited 56,187 times and his h-factor is 121. He has published two books for the general public on brain gut microbiome interactions (the bestselling The Mind Gut Connection, and more recently The Gut Immune Connection) which have been translated into 14 languages.

Dr. Mayer has received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Mentor Award from the American Gastroenterological Association and the Ismar Boas Medal of the German Gastroenterological Association. He has been a regular member of the NIDDK CIMG study section from 2010-2015, has been president of the Functional Brain Gut Group, and associate editor of Gastroenterology.

Jeff F. Miller, PhD

Jeff F. Miller, PhD

Fred Kavli Chair in NanoSystems Sciences
Director of the California NanoSystems Institute
Professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Miller’s laboratory focuses on molecular mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis, the evolution of functional diversity in bacteria and phage, and bio-inspired engineering of precision antibiotics. Dr. Miller received his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Case Western Reserve University and his PhD in Molecular Biology from Tufts University School of Medicine.  After postdoctoral training with Dr. Stanley Falkow at Stanford, he joined the faculty at UCLA in 1990. From 2002-2014 he held the M. Philip Davis Chair in Microbiology and Immunology and served as Chair of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics. In November, 2014, he was appointed Director of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA. In 2004, Dr. Miller co-founded AvidBiotics Corp., a biotherapeutics company in South San Francisco.  In 2017 AvidBiotics split to form Pylum Biosciences, a precision antibiotics company, and Xyphos Inc., an immuno-oncology company that was acquired by Astellas Pharma in December, 2019.  In 2009 Dr. Miller was appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to serve on the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity.  From 2012-2014 he served two consecutive terms as President of the American Society for Microbiology, which represents over 40,000 members in the US and abroad.  Dr. Miller is a former Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, a member of the American Academy of Microbiology, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 2015 he was elected to membership in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.
 

Bruce Naliboff, PhD

Bruce Naliboff, PhD

Project Scientist
Director, Pain Research Program, G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Career Scientist, VA-GLA (ret.)

Dr. Naliboff is a project scientist in the Department of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and director of the Pain Research Program of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience. Dr. Naliboff received his PhD in clinical psychology from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and interned at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. During his long tenure at UCLA and the VA, he has served as senior psychologist in the UCLA and VA Pain Management Programs as well as a VA career scientist. Dr. Naliboff's research has focused on psychosocial and brain mechanisms of stress and chronic pain with an emphasis on chronic visceral pain disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). He has led critical studies into the perceptual and cognitive aspects of chronic pain states including the role of negative and positive emotions in modulating pain symptoms and impact. He is also a leader in the development and evaluation of non-pharmacological therapies for both visceral and somatic pain, and studied the clinical use of opioid medications. Dr. Naliboff has over 200 scientific publications on these topics, has had continuous funding from the NIH and VA, and he has served as a consulting editor for numerous scientific publications in psychology and medicine and on national and international committees as a grant reviewer and program consultant.
 

Paivi E. Pajukanta, MD, PhD

Paivi E. Pajukanta, MD, PhD

Professor of Human Genetics
Diller-von Furstenberg Family Endowed Chair in Precision Clinical Genomics
Vice Chair, Department of Human Genetics
Director, Cardiometabolic Genomics, Institute for Precision Health
Director, Genetics and Genomics PhD Program
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Joseph Pisegna, MD

Joseph Pisegna, MD

Chief, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Parenteral Nutrition
Veterans Administration Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Wadsworth VA
Professor-In-Residence of Medicine and Human Genetics
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
 
Dr. Pisegna’s main research interest is the molecular pharmacology of hormones and receptors in the gastrointestinal tract. These research and clinical interests derive from research in the biochemistry and molecular physiology of neuroendocrine tumors as well as an understanding of the molecular interaction of peptide hormones and their receptors. His clinical efforts are currently focused on the management of gastric hypersecretory conditions, neuroendocrine tumors of the GI tract, and Zollinger Ellison Syndrome (ZES), medical conditions that derive from alterations in the expression of gastrointestinal hormones. Dr. Pisegna cloned the receptor for human cholecystokinin A (CCKA), the cholecystokinin B (CCKB or gastrin) receptor and the pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP) receptor. He has previously demonstrated that PACAP is a potent stimulant of gastric acid secretion and is expressed on neurons innervating the stomach, on enterochromaffin-like cells (ECL) of the stomach expressing receptors for PACAP. Using mice lacking the PAC1 receptor, he has demonstrated that the mice develop a gastric acid hypersecretory condition resulting from hypergastrinemia.  Recently his lab is focused on understanding the role of peptide hormones in the development of obesity, metabolic syndrome and NAFLD. Dr. Pisegna's research interests extend to understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in satiety and metabolic syndrome including the role of the gastrointestinal microbiome.

Karen Reue, PhD

Karen Reue, PhD

Professor and Vice Chair, Human Genetics
Associate Director, UCLA/Caltech Medical Scientist Training Program
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

The Reue laboratory is interested in the identification of genes, pathways, and the role of sex in the development of traits underlying the Metabolic Syndrome, including obesity, dyslipidemia, and insulin resistance. Using genetic manipulation in mouse models, our findings have revealed independent roles for gonadal hormones and genetic sex (XX vs. XY chromosomes) in dietary lipid absorption, regulation of circulating lipid levels, development of adipose tissue, mitochondrial function, and statin-related diabetes.

Jenny Sauk, MD

Jenny Sauk, MD

Director, Clinical Care, UCLA Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Health Sciences Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Disease
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Sauk received her undergraduate degree from Yale University and earned her medical degree from University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. She subsequently completed her internal medicine residency at New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell Medical Center and her gastroenterology fellowship at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. After completing her gastroenterology fellowship, she joined Mount Sinai’s faculty as the Gerald and Ruth Crohn Dickler Faculty Scholar in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Dr. Sauk subsequently joined the faculty at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and developed a specialized practice in IBD at the MGH Crohn’s and Colitis Center. Her clinical interest remains in the inflammatory bowel diseases, specifically ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.  Dr. Sauk’s research interests have centered on clinical outcomes in inflammatory bowel disease and the intestinal microbiome.

Catia Sternini, MD

Catia Sternini, MD

Associate Director, UCLA: Digestive Diseases Research Center
Director, UCLA Imaging and Stem Cell Biology Core
Director, UCLA Pilot and Feasibility Study Program
Professor-in-Residence, Departments of Medicine and Neurobiology
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
 
Dr. Sternini's research program is focused on two major areas: 1) the neuronal circuits that form the enteric nervous system or “brain in the gut,” which regulate intestinal functions, and 2) chemosensing in the gastrointestinal tract in conditions of gut microbial imbalance and obesity. Studies on the enteric nervous system are focused on the identification of enteric neuronal circuits and their targets in health and disease states and on the mechanisms that govern receptor-mediated responses with an emphasis on the µ opioid receptors, the primary targets of opioids clinically used for pain control. Chronic use of opioids induces opioid bowel dysfunction, a debilitating condition characterized by severe constipation and abdominal pain, the treatment of which remains a major challenge. The discovery that opioids differ in their efficiency to induce receptor internalization, a key regulatory process of receptor function, in enteric neurons and that receptor trafficking and signaling pathways differ in distinct neuronal cell populations, sheds light on the mechanisms of action of opioids on enteric neurons compared to the brain, which is essential for the development of effective analgesics devoid of gastrointestinal side effects. Additional studies are focused on changes in the expression of transmitters and receptors in different pathological conditions such as intestinal ischemia, enteric neuropathies, and chronic constipation. Studies on gut chemosensing are focused on the expression and regulation of taste receptors in the gastrointestinal tract in diet-induced obesity based on the finding that bitter taste receptors, the first point of contact with foodstuff in the oral cavity that can impact on food consumption, are expressed in enteroendocrine cells in the intestine, and are upregulated in a microbiota-and diet-dependent manner. These studies are testing the innovative hypothesis that bitter taste receptors detect luminal content including bacteria and bacteria products to induce functional responses through the release of signaling molecules by enteroendocrine cells, which modulate intestinal homeostasis, caloric intake, and metabolism. Taste receptors in the gut might represent a functional link between microbiota and host leading to modulation of gut function, appetite and satiety through the brain-gut-microbiome axis and might be a potential target for obesity prevention and treatment.


 

Kirsten Tillisch, MD

Kirsten Tillisch, MD

Chief of Integrative Medicine, Greater Los Angeles VA
G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience
Health Sciences Professor of Medicine
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
 
Dr. Tillisch completed her undergraduate work at the Otis Institute of Parsons School of Design, earning a bachelor of fine arts with honors. She obtained her medical degree from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and was elected to the medical honor society Alpha Omega Alpha. She continued on at UCLA to complete her training in internal medicine and gastroenterology, graduating in 2003. Dr. Tillisch is the gastroenterology leader for the Scientific Foundations of Medicine Course for first year medical students at the David Geffen School of Medicine. She is an advocate for the incorporation of integrative practices within the medical system to advance health. She is a medical acupuncturist and is trained in medical hypnotherapy by the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. She has a clinical interest in chronic pain and functional gastrointestinal disorders, and was a member of the Rome IV Committee for Central Disorders of Gastrointestinal Pain. Her research interests include brain-gut-microbiome interactions, the effects of complementary and alternative medicine interventions such as meditation, probiotics, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, and herbal therapy on health and disease, and treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders. In addition to her role at UCLA, Dr. Tillisch is the chief of Integrative Medicine at the Greater Los Angeles VA, managing programs in Tai chi, yoga, acupuncture and integrative health.

Elizabeth (Beth) Videlock, MD, PhD

Elizabeth Videlock, MD, PhD

Health Sciences Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine
Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Videlock grew up in Philadelphia and earned a BS in chemistry from Yale University. She studied medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Dr. Videlock began her research career in the field of the gut-brain axis during medical school under the mentorship of Dr. Lin Chang in the UCLA G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience.

She then trained in internal medicine at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Dr. Videlock returned to UCLA for her gastroenterology fellowship as a Specialty Training and Advanced Research (STAR) fellow. Through the STAR program, Dr. Videlock completed a PhD in the laboratory of Charalabos "Harry" Pothoulakis with co-mentorship from Dr. Chang. Her doctoral research used translational and cell culture approaches to study peripheral molecular changes in IBS.

Dr. Videlock joined the UCLA Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases faculty in 2019. Her laboratory is within the UCLA Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.

Karol Watson, MD, PhD

Karol Watson, MD, PhD

Co-Director, UCLA Program in Preventive Cardiology
Director, UCLA Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Health Program
Professor of Medicine
Division of Cardiology
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
John Mazziotta, MD, PhD, Term Chair in Medicine

Dr. Watson is a principal investigator for several large National Institutes of Health research studies including the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study and the Multi-ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. She is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and a member of the American Heart Association. She is also a board member of the American Heart Association, Western States Affiliate, and of the American Society of Preventive Cardiology. Dr. Watson is the chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Board for WomenHeart, the largest national organization for women survivors of heart disease.