Department of Medicine

Gastroenterology and Hepatology Section News

Master
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2021

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2020 Nobel Laureate Visits

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Oct. 28: Dr. Harvey Alter, 2020 Nobel Laureate, visited Baylor College of Medicine Oct. 28 during GI and Hepatology weekly Grand Rounds for a special Q&A. 

Tzu

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New Faculty: Dr. Tzu-Hao “Howard” Lee

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Oct. 18: Dr. Tzu-Hao “Howard” Lee, M.D, Assistant Professor, has joined the Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.  Dr. Lee will provide patient care at the Baylor St. Luke Medical Center as a part of our Transplant Hepatology team.

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Dr. Charles Cho selected as part of 2021-2022 cohort for BCM Career Advancement Series

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Oct. 1: The series offers professional development opportunities and tools to enhance leadership skills and assist with professional and personal goals for advancement for early career and mid-career faculty.

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Drs. Ramon Jin and Ruben Hernaez selected as part of 2021-2022 cohort for BCM Career Advancement Series

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Sept. 24: Drs. Ramon Jin, instructor, Hematology and Oncology, and Ruben Hernaez, assistant professor, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, have been selected as part of the 2021-2022 cohort for the BCM Career Advancement Series. The series offers professional development opportunities and tools to enhance leadership skills and assist with professional and personal goals for advancement for early career and mid-career faculty.

Yamini

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Dr. Yamini Natarajan selected for Governing Board

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Sept. 20: Dr. Yamini Natarajan, assistant professor, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, has been selected by the Governing Board of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases to serve as a member of the Public Policy Committee. The Committee develops and maintains a multiyear public policy agenda to be endorsed by the Governing Board to guide the creation and implementation of an annual set of goals.

Avegail

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Transplant Hepatology Program received accreditation

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Sept. 17: The Baylor College of Medicine Transplant Hepatology Program received its accreditation from the ACGME effective Sept. 10, 2021. Baylor is accepting applications for the three ACGME-accredited transplant hepatology fellowship spots for AY 2022-23. Fellows will complete an intensive 12-month clinical program in transplant hepatology under the supervision and mentorship of Baylor's top-notched fulltime hepatology and transplant hepatology faculty. The program will be based at Baylor St. Luke's. The Baylor transplant program performs well over 100 liver transplants with above average waitlist and post-transplant survival. The Baylor Transplant Hepatology Program is committed to training the next generation of academicians and master clinicians in the discipline of hepatology and liver transplantation. Thank you Dr. Avegail Flores for working on this program.

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Dr. Mohamed Othman promoted to professor

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Sept. 1: Dr. Othman has been on the faculty at Baylor College of Medicine since 2014. He has had a productive career in academic medicine as an outstanding physician, scientist and educator. His career path and many accomplishments clearly show examples of how he has succeeded in each arena.

Jason

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Dr. Jason Mills nominated for the Herman Brown Endowed Professor in Medicine

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Aug. 25: Dr. Jason Mills has been nominated for the Herman Brown Endowed Professor in Medicine. The BCM Board has approved his nomination. 
 
Dr. Mills was recruited after a competitive national search to Baylor College of Medicine in April 2021 to serve as Chief of Research and Vice Chief of the Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, member of the Vice Chair Group of Research at Margaret M and Albert B Alkek Department of Medicine (BCM), and Associate Director and member of the Internal Advisory Committee of the BCM Digestive Disease Research Center (DDRC). He has had a productive career in academic medicine as an outstanding physician, scientist and educator. His career path and accomplishments clearly show examples of how he has succeeded in each arena
 

Waqar

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Dr. Waqar Qureshi Speaks at American College of Gastroenterology Midwest Regional Postgraduate course

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Aug. 14: Dr. Waqar Qureshi, professor, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, spoke at the American College of Gastroenterology Midwest Regional Postgraduate Course on Aug. 14 at the Hilton at the Ballpark Hotel in St. Louis. His presentation was titled "Advances in pelvic floor dysfunction."

Fasiha

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Dr. Fasiha Kanwal receives the Michael E. DeBakey Excellence in Research Award

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Aug. 13: Dr. Fasiha Kanwal, professor, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, has received the prestigious Michael E. DeBakey Excellence in Research Award. This award recognizes scientists whose recent research demonstrates the breadth and depth of science at Baylor College of Medicine. These awards are given on an annual basis in recognition of Baylor faculty who have made the most significant published scientific contribution to clinical or basic biomedical research during the past three years. See a list of previous recipients.

Dr. Kanwal is a physician-scientist with specialty training in gastroenterology and hepatology. Dr. Kanwal’s research has had a significant impact in the clinical management of patients with liver diseases, including hepatitis, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and hepatocellular carcinoma. 

Dr. Kanwal has been with the Department of Medicine as well as staff physician at the Michael E DeBakey VA Medical Center and an investigator at IQuESt since 2012. She is the recipient of multiple awards and has published more than 240 manuscripts. She is the Chief of the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Section of the Department of Medicine, serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology (impact factor: 11.4), co-director for the T32 training grant in gastroenterology,  and is currently the principal investigator for grants from the NCI (U01, R01), NIDDK (T32), VA HSR&D, DoD, CPRIT, and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

Fred

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Dr. Fred Sutton elected as BCM Office of Admissions Faculty Co- chair

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July 2: Dr. Fred Sutton, associate professor, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, has been elected as the BCM Office of Admissions Faculty Co-chair. He will oversee Admissions Committee policy, practices, and admissions decisions.  

Avegail

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Dr. Avegail Flores Named Fellowship Director

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June 18: Dr. Avegail Flores will take on the role as the fellowship director for Transplant Hepatology Program. She will work with Dr. John Vierling to start the ACGME accredited program that will offer one year of advanced transplant hepatology training for those who completed a three-year fellowship in GI (PGY-7 year) as well as a combined gastroenterology/transplant hepatology fellowship program to allow for certification in both GI and transplant hepatology within three-year period (formerly known as the ABIM GI/Transplant hepatology pilot training program). 

RJ

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Dr. RJ Sealock Named BCM Faculty Senator

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June 18: Dr. RJ Sealock, assistant professor, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, has been selected to represent the Department of Medicine in the Faculty Senate as of July 1, 2021. 

Jason

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New Faculty: Jason Mills

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May 7: Dr. Jason Mills, M.D., Ph.D. has joined the Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Dr. Mills is a pathologist and cell and developmental biologist and will provide services at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center.
 

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New Center for Anorectal Disease

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Feb. 5: The new Center for Ano-rectal Diseases, directed by Dr. Waqar Qureshi, consists of a dedicated team of clinicians specially trained to handle complex anorectal conditions. The team consists of gastroenterologists, colorectal surgeons and motility experts to provide comprehensive and coordinated care for anorectal disease management. 

The center performs the following procedures: anoscopy; hemorrhoid banding or infrared coagulation; Botox injection for the treatment of anal fissures; flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy with biopsy; anorectal manometry; pelvic ultrasound; pelvic MRI.

Behavioral therapy for certain motility disorders is also available. 

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20th Annual Gastroenterology and Hepatology Course

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March 27: The 20th Annual GI and Hepatology Course, held in March, was a great success, with nearly 270 registrants. Drs. Mohamed Othman, Keturah Ramirez and Shelina Velani were vital to the success of the event. 

GI

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Gastroenterology Ladies Night

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March 17: The Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8 with (virtual) Gastroenterology ladies night! The traditional dinner for female fellows was converted to surprise dessert delivery due to the pandemic. Faculty and fellows mingled toasting recent weddings and upcoming babies. This was followed by breakout sessions to discuss self-advocacy, work/life balance and more. Organizers were Drs. Nisreen Husain, Milena Gould, Yamini Natarajan, Richa Shukla and Mimi Tan.

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2020

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Section Receives Top Rankings

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Nov. 5: The Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology was ranked #9 nationally according to U.S News & World Report - Best Universities for Gastroenterology and Hepatology. In addition, we are ranked among the top 20 universities for Gastroenterology and Hepatology globally.

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New Faculty: Dr. George Cholankeril

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Nov. 3: Dr. George Cholankeril has joined the Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Dr Cholankeril is a transplant hepatologist and will be provide services at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center.  

Joseph

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New Faculty: Dr. Joseph Krill

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Aug. 17: Joseph Krill, M.D. has joined the Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Dr. Krill has been selected as Gastroenterology and Hepatology’s Advanced Endoscopy Fellow for 2020. Dr. Krill will provide services at Ben Taub Hospital and Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center. 

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New Faculty: Dr. Hemant Roy

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Sept. 4: Dr. Hemant Roy joins the Department of Medicine as the new Herman Brown Endowed chair of medicine and chief of medical services at Ben Taub Hospital. He is also serving as the vice chair of the Department for Harris Health System/Ben Taub Hospital. He will be a member of the Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

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GI Motility Lab Nationally Recognized

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Aug. 7: Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center GI Motility lab has been included in the American Neurogastroenterology & Motility Society’s Registry of GI Motility Laboratories. This is a national recognition reviewed by the ANMS Clinical Practice Committee. This was made possible by the addition of anorectal manometry along with a number of quality procedures performed at our facility. This is a major achievement for Dr. Reena Chokshi and her group.

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U.S. News and World Report Ranking of Best Hospitals

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July 28: Baylor St. Luke’s was ranked in five adult specialties – Cardiology and Heart Surgery, No. 17; Neurology and Neurosurgery, No. 21; Gastroenterology and GI Surgery, No. 21; Cancer, No. 27 and Geriatrics 47. Importantly, this is the first time geriatrics has been ranked.

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2019

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Andrea

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Dr. Andrea Bradford 2019 Insomnia Workshop Speaker

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May 24: The Baylor College of Medicine 2019 Insomnia Workshop was held May 24, at McNair Campus. The annual workshop, sponsored by the Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, provides in-depth education and training on adult and pediatric insomnia management with a focus on cognitive behavioral therapy. Attendees included fellows in training in sleep medicine from BCM and the University of Texas. Speakers included our very own Dr. Andrea Bradford.

DDW 2019 Posters and Presentations

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May 16: The Department of Medicine Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology had a big presence at Digestive Diseases Week, held May 17-21 in San Diego, with 46 presentations, including several invited lectures, oral presentations, and posters. Invited lecturers were:

  • Dr. Hashem El-Serag, professor
  • Dr. Fasiha Kanwal, professor
  • Dr. Jason Hou, associate professor
  • Dr. Noah Shroyer, associate professor
  • Dr. Waqar Qureshi, professor
  • Dr. Derek Lin, clinical postdoc fellow
  • Dr. Stephen Pappas, associate professor

A few additional highlights:

Dr. Waqar Qureshi, professor, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, directed the Advanced Polypectomy and Hemorrhoid Management Hands-On Workshop and the Anorectal Diseases clinical symposium session.

Dr. Ayse Mindikoglu, associate professor, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, presented the late-breaking abstract of her group’s study entitled “Dawn-to-sunset fasting for 30 days induces tropomyosin 1, 3 and 4 genes in healthy volunteers: its clinical implications in metabolic syndrome and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease”. The study found that dawn-to-sunset fasting for 30 days (Ramadan fasting) increased levels of proteins that play a crucial role in improving insulin. The results of the study had subsequent worldwide media coverage (see In The News).

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Dr. El-Serag, Colleagues attend American College of Physicians Annual Meeting 2019

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April 26: Several faculty members attended the American College of Physicians Annual Meeting 2019, held April 11-13 in Philadelphia. Dr. Hashem El-Serag, professor, presented “Clinical Triad: Upper Gastrointestinal Tract”; Dr. Martha Mims, professor, Hematology/Oncology, presented “Who Really Needs a Work-Up for Hereditary Thrombophilia?"; Dr. Joslyn Fisher, associate professor, General Internal Medicine – Ben Taub, chaired the session “Challenges in the Medical Care of Immigrants.” Three medical students, Albert Jang, Anna Berry, and Kallie Kram, as well as Dr. Wilson Lam, assistant professor and associate program director, Internal Medicine Residency Program, also attended.

Fasiha

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Dr. Fasiha Kanwal Interviewed for Medpage Today

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April 19: Dr. Fasiha Kanwal, professor and chief, was interviewed for an April 16 article in Medpage Today titled “Review target gaps in HCC surveillance.”

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Dr. Johanna Chan Presents at Section of Transition Medicine's Grand Rounds

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March 27: Dr. Johanna Chan, assistant professor, shared her presentation titled “Feeding Tubes: Pearls and Pitfalls” with faculty and staff at the Section of Transition Medicine's Grand Rounds. The presentation offered insights on how to different types of feeding tubes, advice to share with patients and how gastroenterologists can help patients transition from pediatric to adult GI.

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Dr. John Vierling Receives 'Highly Cited Paper' Designation by Web of Science

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March 22: Nature Reviews Disease Primer, titled “Autoimmune Hepatitis,” coauthored by Dr. John Vierling, professor, has received a “Highly Cited Paper” designation by Web of Science. This designation is for papers that are in the top 1 percent of similar age. The paper has been viewed more than 6,000 times since publication.

Waqar

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Dr. Waqar Qureshi Interviewed for BCM Momentum

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March 15: Dr. Waqar Qureshi, professor, was interviewed for a March 11 article in BCM Momentum titled “Colon polyps: Detection is key to preventing cancer.”

John

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Dr. John Vierling Delivers Invited Webinar to FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research

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March 15: Dr. John Vierling, professor, delivered an invited webinar lecture to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. His topic was “Autoimmune Hepatitis,” aimed to provide a comprehensive update to aid FDA in evaluating new proposals for clinical trials. The invitation resulted from his role on the writing committee to revise the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Autoimmune Hepatitis Guidelines and his group’s recent paper in Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Andrea

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Dr. Andrea Bradford Interviewed for BCM Momentum

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March 15: Dr. Andrea Bradford, assistant professor, was interviewed for a Jan. 10 article in BCM Momentum titled “The gut-brain connection: How psychotherapy treats irritable bowel syndrome.”

Mary

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Dr. Mary Estes Featured in BCM From The Labs

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March 15: Dr. Mary Estes, Distinguished Service professor, was the subject of a Jan. 3 article in BCM From The Labs titled “Image of the Month: Assembling a rotavirus factory.”

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Department of Medicine Ranks 25th in U.S. News Rankings of Best Medical Schools

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March 13: The 2019-2020 U.S. News & World Report annual list of top graduate schools and programs was released this week. For the first time, Baylor College of Medicine's Department of Medicine - Internal Medicine is now ranked in the top 152 schools, at number 25. These rankings are based solely on ratings by medical school deans and senior faculty from the list of schools surveyed. Survey respondents each identified up to 15 schools offering the best programs in each specialty area. Those schools receiving the most votes in each specialty are numerically ranked in descending order based on the number of nominations they received, as long as the school or program received seven or more nominations in that specialty area.

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Dr. Hashem El-Serag and Colleagues Interviewed For TMC News

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March 8: Drs. Hashem El-Serag, professor, Melissa Bondy, professor, Epidemiology and Population Sciences, and Kent Osborne, professor, Hematology/Oncology, were interviewed for a March 4 article in TMC News titled “Obesity’s link to cancer.”

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Dr. Yamini Natarajan, Colleagues Receive Best Post Award at the Texas Medical Association’s Physician Health & Wellness Exchange

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March 8: The Vice Chair Group for Faculty & Staff Development’s abstract “Sunshine Grants: Planting Seeds of Wellness in an Academic Medical Department” was chosen as “Best Poster” in the Faculty Category and was presented orally at the Texas Medical Association’s Physician Health & Wellness Exchange at Baylor College of Medicine on March 2. Department of Medicine faculty and staff co-authors include: David Corry, Robbie Cruzado-Rivera, Joslyn Fisher, Tom Giordano, Sandra Haudek, Nicola Hanania, Claudine Johnson, Kim Johnson, Shannon Kenyon, Judy Kim, Courtney Miller-Chism, Arunima Misra, Yamini Natarajan, Sue Sampson, Margaret Spitz, Sandhya Thomas, and Laila Woc-Colburn.

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Press Ganey Most Improved - MVP Award Winner

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March 1: the Quality, Safety and Patient Experience team has awarded the Gastroenterology division the Press Ganey Most Improved – MVP Award winner for the second quarter of fiscal year 2019. The award was rewarded based on the highest increased score for feedback received from patients on their Press Ganey surveys. Congratulations to the Faculty Group Practice physicians and staff for this truly tremendous award!

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Dr. Yamini Natarajan Interviewed for U.S. News & World Report

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March 1: Dr. Yamini Natarajan, assistant professor, was interviewed for a Feb. 19 article in U.S. News & World Report titled “What is dumping syndrome?”

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Department of Medicine Makes Major Jump in Blue Ridge rankings

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Feb. 12:  The 2018 Blue Ridge ranking for Departments of Medicine just came out! Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Medicine achieved its highest status in recent memory. The Blue Ridge ranking uses active NIH funding to rank departments of medicine in the nation. We went up from #40 in 2017 to #27 (out of 115) this year, a jump of 13 places. This reflects the success that existing as well as new faculty have made in competing successfully for grant funding. While a milestone worth celebrating indeed, the rank is but one aspect of success.  The Department of Medicine is proud that faculty and trainees also continue to be quite successful in publishing, education and clinical care.

Mary

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Dr. Mary Estes Published in BCM News, Science Daily, Med India and UC San Diego Health News

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Feb. 1: Dr. Mary Estes, professor, was interviewed for a Nov. 27 article in BCM News titled “Mother’s milk influences neonatal rotavirus infection." The isle also was covered in a Nov. 27 article in Science Daily titled “Sugars and microbiome in mother’s milk influence neonatal rotavirus infection,” a Nov. 28 article in Med India titled “Sugars in breast milk influences neonatal rotavirus infection,” as well as  Nov. 27 article in the UC San Diego Health News titled “Complex sugars and microbiome in mother’s milk influence neonatal rotavirus infection.

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Dr. Yamini Natarajan Interviewed for MedPage Today

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Feb. 1: Dr. Yamini Natarajan, assistant professor, was interviewed for a Nov. 19 article in MedPage Today titled “DAAs best for cutting CVD risk in HCV.”

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Faculty and Staff Meet with Senator John Cornyn's Office

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Feb. 1:  As part of the American Gastroenterological Association's Congressional Advocates Program, several DoM faculty members and staff met with Jay Guerrero, regional director for Southeast Texas for Senator John Cornyn. The group discussed NIH funding, the Restoring the Patient’s Voice Act, the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act of 2018, and closing the colonoscopy loophole. They wrote about their experience here. Attendees were Gastroenterology and Hepatology’s Ramanveer Virk, administrative assistant, and Drs. Avi Ketwaroo, assistant professor, Yamini Natarajan, assistant professor, Richard Robbins, instructor, and Richa Shukla, assistant professor. 

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Dr. Norman Sussman Featured in the Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center “Daily Update”

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Jan. 25: Dr. Norman Sussman, associate professor, was mentioned in the Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center “Daily Update” recently; a patient remarked that he/she was receiving “top care” in the Hepatology Clinic and that Dr. Sussman was “thoughtful about my case and was overwhelmingly recommended by my medical contacts locally and out of state.

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Dr. Suneal Agarwal Interviewed for MedPage Today

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Jan. 11: Dr. Suneal Agarwal, assistant professor, was interviewed for a Dec. 9 article in MedPage Today titled “PPIs cut upper GI bleeds from anticoagulants.”