Berkeley Limketkai, MD, PhD, a gastroenterologist and clinical researcher with a special interest in the role of nutrition and the gut microbiome in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), has joined the Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases as a health sciences associate clinical professor of medicine and director of IBD clinical research for the UCLA Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. In that role, Dr. Limketkai is building the IBD center’s clinical research infrastructure and forging collaborations with researchers within and outside the center, as well as seeing IBD patients in the clinic.
Nutrition will be one of the main areas of focus for the IBD clinical research program, Dr. Limketkai says. “Patients with IBD often have alterations in their diet and nutritional status, and there is great interest in better understanding the role nutrition plays in influencing symptoms and disease activity, and vice versa,” he explains. There are minimal data about nutrition’s impact on IBD, Dr. Limketkai notes, but enough to suggest that it could be a fruitful area of investigation. Exclusive enteral nutrition, a liquid formula-based diet, has been shown to be effective in reducing inflammation in IBD. “We also know that diet directly influences the microbiome composition, and we believe the microbiome plays a contributing role in the development of IBD and possibly disease activity,” Dr. Limketkai adds.
Research at the center will examine how IBD changes nutritional status, how nutrition influences the development of symptoms, and how these factors are mediated by the microbiome. The clinical research program at the IBD center will also continue to investigate the role of the brain-gut axis in IBD, including how mental and emotional health and psychology affect disease symptoms, and vice versa.
Another theme will broadly involve clinical outcomes and health services research. “We want to identify the factors that contribute to favorable or unfavorable outcomes in IBD as a way of improving the quality of care we provide,” Dr. Limketkai says.
Dr. Limketkai earned his MD from the University of Cincinnati, then completed his internal medicine residency, gastroenterology fellowship, and PhD education at Johns Hopkins University, and further pursuing advanced training as the Theodore M. Bayless Fellow in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases at Johns Hopkins and clinical nutrition training through the Nestlé Nutrition Institute. His doctoral dissertation explored the role of vitamin D in IBD pathogenesis and severity.“
Dr. Limketkai’s background in clinical and nutritional research adds great strength to our program,” says Jenny Sauk, MD, director of clinical care for the UCLA Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. “In addition to leading the clinical research effort, he will provide expertise on complex cases, as well as helping our center bridge the needs of community practices given the growing complexity of IBD care. We are very excited to have him in our program.”