Department of Medicine

T32 Mentoring Team Members


Hashem El-Serag, M.D., MPH, is one of the two co-directors of the training program, professor of medicine, director of the NIH P30-funded Texas Medical Center Digestive Disease Center, chair of the Department of Medicine at BCM, and past president of the American Gastroenterological Association (2019/2020). His research has concerned the epidemiology of several pre-malignant and malignant gastrointestinal conditions, including Barrett’s esophagus, HCV, and hepatocellular carcinoma. His current research is focused on describing the epidemiology of NAFLD, viral hepatitis and risk stratification of patients with cirrhosis.

Fasiha Kanwal, M.D., MSHS, is one of the two co-directors of the training program, professor of medicine, chief of the Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, director of the Study Design & Clinical Research Core of the DDC and editor-in-chief for CGH. Her research has focused on the processes and outcomes of care for patients with chronic liver diseases. Her current research focus is developing risk stratification models to accurately identify persons at risk of progressive liver disease (including hepatocellular carcinoma).

Thomas P. Giordano, M.D., MPH, is professor of medicine at BCM and chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases. He is program leader for the Clinical Epidemiology and Comparative Effectiveness at IQuESt. Dr. Giordano’s research focuses on the health outcomes of chronic viral infections focusing on HIV, HCV, and HIV/HCV co-infection. Dr. Giordano contributes significant methodological breadth to the mentoring team with his experience leading survey-based research, prospective cohort studies and randomized trials of behavioral interventions to improve adherence to and retention in care of individuals with HIV. He has an exceptional mentoring record: he has mentored numerous fellows and junior faculty, including seven faculty on NIH-funded career development awards, three of whom have obtained R01 funding.

Laura A. Petersen, M.D., MPH, is a professor of medicine and chief of the Section of Health Services Research at BCM. She is the director of IQuESt and associate chief of staff for research and development for the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Petersen has had continuous federal funding for more than 20 years. Her research examines how healthcare policy, organization and financing affect quality and safety of health care for disparate chronic conditions. She is an internationally recognized expert in health care performance measurement and among the first investigators to compare national level VA/Non-VA performance and outcomes (with publications in NEJM, Annals of Internal Medicine, Circulation, and JAMA). She uses patient-centered outcomes research methods (analytical- as well as intervention-based) to address timely health policy questions.

Aanand D. Naik, M.D., is a professor of medicine and chief of the Section of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at BCM. Dr. Naik is chief of the Education and Training Core at IQuESt, which oversees 10-15 postdoctoral fellows (physicians and nonclinical Ph.D.s) across six programs focused on health services research. He directs the VA Quality Scholars Program—an academic training program for postdoctoral physicians across 12 sites. Dr. Naik’s research leverages basic social and behavioral sciences to model patient-centeredness. He develops interventions that augment patient-centeredness and tests the effectiveness of these interventions in improving health outcomes of older adults with complex illnesses and in improving physicians’ adherence to best practices. He has been continuously funded by VA Merit awards, and awards from the AHRQ, and HRSA as PI or co-I. Dr. Naik has a strong track record of mentoring and career development of trainees and junior faculty. Three of his mentees have had federal career development awards.

Barbara Trautner, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor of medicine and surgery at BCM, specializing in infectious diseases. She is the founder of the MEDVAMC Chief Resident in Quality and Safety Program. Dr. Trautner’s research is focused on development of preventive strategies for health care-associated infections. She is leading the implementation of a successful intervention that decreased unnecessary screening for and treatment of asymptomatic bacteriuria at four large health care facilities. She has been funded continuously by the NIH or the VA since 2002 and has been a co-investigator in infection prevention projects funded by AHRQ and the CDC. She is currently mentoring several junior faculty from four departments (one from the Department of Surgery who is working on identifying sustainable solutions to access problems in liver transplantation). Her addition has strengthened the program’s expertise in implementation science.

Jason Hou, M.D., M.S., is an associate professor of medicine in the Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at BCM, where he serves as the program director for the GI fellowship training program. Dr. Hou is a graduate of the BCM GI fellowship and Certified Treecare Safety Professional programs. Shortly after completing his research training, Dr. Hou received a career development award from the ACG, followed by an AHRQ K23 and, more recently, a VA Merit Review grant as the PI. He holds important leadership positions with the AGA and Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Dr. Hou’s research interest is in preventive care aspects of inflammatory bowel disease.

David Y. Graham, M.D., is a professor of medicine and molecular virology and microbiology at BCM. He serves as a co-director for the Study Design & Clinical Research Core of the DDC. He was the section chief of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at BCM (1995-2007) and past president of the ACG. Dr. Graham’s research has focused on acid peptic disease in general and specifically in relation to H. pylori and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-induced gastrointestinal damage. His clinical and translational research also involves infectious agents and the intestine (e.g., norovirus infection and vaccines, Mycobacterium paratuberculosis in Crohn's disease, and C. difficile colitis). He is currently the PI for multi-center studies evaluating anti-mycobacterial therapy for Crohn's disease. His previous mentees include a number of successful investigators.

James Versalovic, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor of pediatrics at BCM. He serves as the chair of the Department of Pathology at Texas Children’s Hospital. He is also co-director of the DDC and the director of the Functional Genomics and Microbiome Core of the DDC. The group led by Dr. Versalovic has been instrumental in the development of 16S rRNA gene and whole genome shotgun sequencing as part of the Human Microbiome Project since its inception. Dr. Versalovic’s primary research focus is the translational aspects of the composition and function of the intestinal microbiome and mechanisms of signaling between the microbiome and intestinal mucosa, with a focus on chronic gastrointestinal diseases such as IBD, IBS, C difficile and gastritis. Dr. Versalovic has a long track record of successful mentoring of students, post docs, residents, fellows and junior faculty. He serves as co-director of the BCM NIH-funded Medical Scientist (M.D.-Ph.D.) training program and as mentor in the NIDDK-funded T32 program training Ph.D. and M.D. investigators in pediatric gastroenterology. He participates actively in the Translational Biology and Molecular Medicine and Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences interdepartmental Ph.D. programs, as well as the Microbiology and Genetics Ph.D. programs. Two of his current mentees are on K23 and K01 awards.

Chris Amos, Ph.D., is a professor of medicine at BCM and an internationally renowned statistical geneticist. He is the director of the Institute for Clinical and Transitional Research at BCM, and interim chief of the Section of Epidemiology and Population Sciences in the Department of Medicine. He has been involved in genetic studies to identify causes for complex diseases, focusing on cancer etiology. He leads multiple PIs of a grant (co-I, El-Serag) that is investigating risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma using Genome-Wide Association Study design and Mendelian Randomization with the genetic data. He is the coordinating center PI for the Texas Hepatocellular Carcinoma Consortium (PI, El-Serag). He is the PI of the Coordinating and Data Management Group Center for the Molecular Characterization of Screen Detected Lesions Consortium, an NCI-funded consortium that develops database and biostatical solutions integrating work at academic sites, the NCI, and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He was the U.S. leader of the OncoArray Consortium, focusing on lung cancer research, whose goals have been to identify genetic factors for cancer susceptibility; this platform has been used for studying all common cancers, with papers from these studies being published in Nature and Nature Genetics on a monthly basis. Dr. Amos has mentored 20 junior faculty who hold positions in academia and industry, 17 post-doctoral fellows and 16 predoctoral students.

Aaron P. Thrift, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of medicine in the Section of Epidemiology and Population Sciences and a research member of the Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences Program at the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at BCM. The goal of his research is to develop strategies to reduce the preventable population burden of cancer. He is a member of the NIH-funded Barrett’s Esophagus and Esophageal Adenocarcinoma Consortium. His current research focus is on understanding the factors (lifestyle, genetic, social, and medical care) that contribute to the risk of gastrointestinal cancers and pre-cancer conditions, and using this information to identify individuals in the population at greatest risk. Further, Dr. Thrift’s research aims to understand factors that contribute to liver cancer for vulnerable racial/ethnic subgroups of the population, with the ultimate goal of reducing disparities in liver cancer incidence. He has been funded by the NIH and CPRIT as a PI, and has been a co-investigator on projects funded by the Veterans Administration.

Jason C Mills, M.D., Ph.D., AGAF, is a professor of Medicine and Pathology & Immunology as well as vice chief and chief of Research, Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. He serves as associate director of the DDC and is a member of the Mechanisms of Cancer Evolution of the Daniel Duncan Cancer Center. He has served as primary mentor for four K01 or K08 junior faculty as well as six pre- and post-graduate T32 trainees. He is PI on four NIH R01s and co-investigator on three others. His research interest is in regeneration and metaplasia in the GI tract with a particular focus on the molecular origins of cancer through metaplasia. His lab uses genetic mouse models in conjunction with archived human tissue specimens as well as databanks of human organoids from normal, metaplastic, and cancer tissue to do basic, translational, and clinical research and mentors a mix of pre-doctoral, post-doctoral, and junior faculty trainees.