Texas Medical Center Digestive Diseases Center

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About the Center


The Texas Medical Center Digestive Diseases Center facilitates cutting-edge digestive diseases research, promotes translational collaborative research between basic and clinical areas, develops new projects, nurtures new investigators, and provides GI educational activities.

The DDC is a federally funded Silvio O Conte Digestive Diseases Research Core Center (NIH P30DK056338) designed to serve basic and clinical scientists at institutions within the Texas Medical Center, including Baylor College of Medicine, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the MD Anderson Cancer Center. 


DDC Leadership


The DDC director is Hashem B. El-Serag, M.D., M.P.H., Margaret M. and Albert B. Alkek Chair of the Department of Medicine, and professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at Baylor. 

Jason Mills, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, serves as co-director of the center. Dr. Mills also serves as director of the Tissue Analysis & Molecular Imaging core of the DDC. 

James Versalovic, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pathology & immunology at Baylor College of Medicine and pathologist-in-chief and director of the Texas Children’s Microbiome Center at Texas Children’s Hospital, is an associate director of the center. Dr. Versalovic is also the director of the Functional Genomics and Microbiome core of the DDC. 

J. Marc Rhoads, M.D., gastroenterology division director and professor of pediatric gastroenterology at The University of Texas Health Science Center is assistant director. 

He is joined by Robert Bresalier, M.D., professor of gastroenterology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, who also serves as an assistant director.


DDC Basic Science & Clinical Cores


The DDC supports three basic science cores: Tissue Analysis and Molecular ImagingFunctional Genomics and MicrobiomeGastrointestinal Experimental Module Systems; and one clinical core: Study Design and Clinical Research.

Current DDC membership includes 103 members, with 62 full members and 41 associate members. DDC members have approximately $38 million in digestive diseases-related research funding as of 2022. The overall theme of the DDC is “Molecular mechanisms and outcomes of injury, infection, or metabolic dysfunction of the digestive system” with digestive-disease-related subthemes centering on:

  • Infection (including host-microbe interactions and microbiome)
  • Injury (including tumorigenesis and stem cell response)
  • Metabolism (including diseases associated with obesity and the gut-brain axis)

Enrichment Programs


Enrichment programs include a weekly seminar series, an annual symposium, and research opportunities for young investigators to work with some of the most well-known scientists and clinicians in digestive diseases.

The DDC Pilot/Feasibility Program is offered annually and supports innovative ideas and new investigators in digestive diseases research and fosters collaboration among members.

This site provides information on our mission, facilities, programs, and investigators.

Note: All DDC core users must acknowledge the DDC in publications and grant applications, as follows, "This project was supported in part by PHS grant P30DK056338" and publications must comply with the NIH Public Access Policy, including the use of PMCIDs for all publications after April 2008. View more information.


Serving Basic and Clinical Scientists


The DDC serves scientists at Baylor College of Medicine, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the MD Anderson Cancer Center.




An NIH-funded Silvio O Conte Digestive Diseases Research Core Center located in Houston, Texas, was formalized in 2001, with NIDDK support to promote, facilitate and enhance the advancement of science and digestive diseases related research through formal interactions among various research and training units at participating institutions in the Texas Medical Center. The Center was founded by Mary K. Estes, Ph.D., emeritus director and distinguished service professor of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine.

Renewal of this DDC in 2007, 2012, and 2017 has enhanced collaborative interactions with increased productivity. This competing renewal application builds on the strengths of our DDC to further increase the productivity of multidisciplinary groups of basic and clinical investigators, who constitute a growing and increasingly interactive research community in digestive diseases by providing access to cost-effective, highly specialized shared resources and expertise.

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