Research highlights

Digestive health

Research endeavors
Pancreatic cancer is the focus of a new collaboration between the University’s Masonic Cancer Center and the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s cancer center. Co-leader Dr. Selwyn Vickers, professor and chair of surgery and associate director of the Masonic Cancer Center, says the $11.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute will promote bench-to-bedside translation of research ideas to give patients a better chance of surviving the disease. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.

Hepatitis B Virus Infection: The University of Minnesota is part of the National Institute of Health Hepatitis B Research Program. 

Our experts
Dr. Martin Freeman is an expert in pancreas and biliary disorders, and therapeutic ERCP, an endoscopic treatment for the pancreas and biliary tract disorders. He developed the Freeman stent which minimizes injury to ducts of the pancreas, is studying diagnosis and treatment of chronic pancreatitis, a debilitating condition which affects thousands of patients, and is an investigator in an NIH funded study of sphincter of Oddi dysfunction. 

Dr. Rajeev Attam  is an expert in interventional endoscopic ultrasound and ERCP. In conjunction with the Bariatric/Minimally Invasive Surgery division, he has pioneered a novel ultrasound-guided technique for endoscopic access to the upper GI tract in patients with gastric bypass, an increasingly common challenge. 

Dr. Jack Lake,  director of hepatology and liver transplantation, is conducting studies related to antirejection drugs after liver transplantation. He is also researching new agents to treat kidney failure associated with liver failure and to treat low platelet counts in liver disease. He has been listed among US News and World Report’s Best Doctors in the US from 2002 to 2010.

Dr. Mohamed Hassan participates in research on health disparities in the delivery of healthcare to people with hepatitis B. <Link to Department of Medicine web site>

Dr. Charmaine Stewart is conducting studies into diagnosis and new treatments for hepatic encephalopathy; researching the association between sleep disorders and liver diseases; and is a co-investigator for the Hepatitis B Research Network, and the social cultural adherence project.

Dr. Coleman Smith is site principal investigator for a multicenter NIH-funded study of hepatitis B.

Dr. Julie Thompson participates in a number of studies related to pharmacologic treatment for both pre- and post-liver transplant patients.

Dr. Alexander Khoruts is a leading researcher on Clostridium Difficile, an infection of the colon. He has developed a treatment involving bacteriotherapy – transplanting the normal, healthy bacteria required by our digestive system into a patient whose system has been infected by harmful bacteria -- and is studying which organisms can help fight this increasingly common condition. 

Dr. Stephen McSorley is the principal investigator on multiple NIH grants examining immune responses to bacterial infections of the GI tract.

Clifford Steer, M.D., is studying how small molecules called microRNAs affect the liver’s ability to re-grow healthy tissue after disease or injury—a process called regeneration. MicroRNAs have only recently been discovered as key players in the development and growth of tissues.

For more information, please see the University of Minnesota Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Web site.