Department of Medicine

Gastroenterology and Hepatology Section News

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2023

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Dr. Shifa Umar has joined Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

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August 14: Dr. Shifa Umar, MD, Assistant Professor, has joined Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. She will be providing services at the Michael E DeBakey VA medical center.
Dr. Umar obtained her medical degree from Shifa College of Medicine in Islamabad, Pakistan. She continued her training in Internal medicine and Gastroenterology at Allegheny Health Network, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dr. Umar subsequently completed Pancreatology fellowship at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester MN and an Advanced Endoscopy fellowship at University of Chicago. Her area of clinical interest is in pancreaticobiliary diseases, EUS directed therapy for premalignant pancreas lesions and endo-hepatology. Dr. Umar is passionate about medical education and training, and served as the founder editor of the ACG Magazine Trainee Hub Section.
 

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Dr. Jared Sninsky has joined the Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

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August 14: Dr. Jared Sninsky, M.D., M.S.C.R, Assistant Professor, has joined the Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. He will be providing services at the VA medical center and McNair Campus. Dr. Sninsky obtained his medical degree from the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville, Florida. He completed Internal Medicine residency at Washington University in St. Louis/Barnes Jewish Hospital and a fellowship in Gastroenterology-Hepatology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During his fellowship, he received a Masters of Science in Clinical Research(MSCR) as part of the T32 research program in clinical outcomes. He stayed at the University of North Carolina for an additional year of advanced fellowship training in inflammatory bowel disease. His research interests include non-invasive biomarkers, machine learning, and diagnostic modeling . 
 

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New Faculty: Dr. Kavish Patidar

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March 30: Dr. Kavish Patidar, Assistant Professor of Medicine, has joined the Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Transplant Hepatology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. His major clinical and research interests include treatment and outcomes associated with hepatorenal syndrome and acute kidney injury in cirrhosis, complications of cirrhosis and portal hypertension, alcohol-associated hepatitis, and critical care management in patients with acute on chronic liver failure. He will provide hepatology and transplant hepatology services at Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.

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Dr. Gagan Sood Promoted to Professor

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March 30: Dr. Gagan Sood received a promotion from Associate Professor to Professor in the Department of Medicine.

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Baylor Recognized by U.S. News and World Report

Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) is recognized as one of the “Best Global Universities for Gastroenterology and Hepatology” by U.S. News and World Report. BCM GI and Hepatology was ranked 9th in the U.S.

The rankings are based on a number of criteria including reputational indicators, global and regional research reputation, bibliometric indicators, publications, citation impact, total citations, most-cited publications, and scientific excellence indicators.

Each year the BCM Section of GI and Hepatology publishes more than 200 papers and receives approximately $15 million in external grant support. Members of the Section have published national guidelines in nearly every therapeutic area.

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14th Annual Frontiers in Digestive Disease Symposium

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March 4: The Texas Medical Center Digestive Diseases Center (DDC) held its 14th Annual Frontiers in Digestive Disease Symposium: Metabolic Communication in Digestive Diseases on March 4, 2023, at the Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center. This year’s event included presentations from renowned speakers including Eugene B. Chang, M.D., from the University of Chicago, Theresa Alenghat, VMD, Ph.D., from Cincinnati Children's Hospital, and Rohit Loomba, M.D., MHSc, from the University of California San Diego, among others. It also offered breakout sessions and a poster competition which included more than 40 posters and 50 abstracts. The 2023 Poster Competition winners included:

First Place: Maple Adkins-Threats, Baylor College of Medicine – " Estrogen-related receptor gamma (ERRγ) as a transcriptional regulator of parietal cell lineage maintenance”

Second Place: Sara Di Rienzi, Baylor College of Medicine " Microbial stimulation of oxytocin release from the intestinal epithelium via secretin signaling"

Third Place: Janel Peterson Baylor College of Medicine - " The role of MBNL in smooth muscle function & DM1 GI pathologies"

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Drs. Mohamed Othman and Waqar Qureshi Selected as Editors

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Jan 20: Dr. Mohamed Othman was selected as senior associate editor and Dr. Waqar Qureshi as associate editor by American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. This is a four-year term which started Jan. 1, 2023.

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Courtney Cary Selected for 2022 WISH Grant Award

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Jan 16: Courtney Cary was selected for the 2022 WISH Grant Award for her application entitled, “Annual National Nutrition Month Fruit and Vegetable Challenge.” The Vice Chair Group for Faculty and Staff development assist all Departments of Medicine personnel in minimizing burnout and improving overall wellness. The WISH grants awards $500 annually for winning proposals.

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2022

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New Faculty: Dr. Madad Ali

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Nov. 8: Madad Ali, M.D., senior faculty, has joined the Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. He will be providing services at Ben Taub Hospital. 

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Dr. Andrea Bradford Promoted to Associate Professor

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Oct.18: Dr. Andrea Bradford received a promotion from assistant professor to associate professor in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Bradford has been on the faculty at Baylor College of Medicine since 2016.

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Dr. Ruben Hernaez Promoted to Associate Professor

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Oct. 19: Dr. Ruben Hernaez received a promotion from assistant professor to associate professor (tenured) in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Hernaez has been on the faculty at Baylor College of Medicine since 2016.

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Dr. Mimi Tan was selected for Baylor College of Medicine's 2022-2023 Career Advancement Series

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Oct 3: Dr. Mimi Tan was selected for Baylor College of Medicine's 2022-2023 Career Advancement Series. The program assists early and mid-career faculty in further developing skills and competencies that support professional and personal goals for advancement and leadership development at Baylor College of Medicine. The sessions cover topics such as promotion, mentoring, conflict resolution, and well-being.

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Dr. Reena Chokshi Promoted to Associate Professor

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Sept. 1: Dr. Reena Chokshi received a promotion from assistant professor to associate professor in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Chokshi has been on the faculty at Baylor College of Medicine since 2018. 

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Ben Taub Endoscopy Center Selected as Study Enrollment Site

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July 25: The Ben Taub Endoscopy Center has been selected to serve as a site of enrollment for a post-market, non-interventional, multi-center, benchtop microbial sampling and culturing study of clinically used and reprocessed duodenoscopes sponsored by the Olympus Corporation. The study will evaluate the percentage of and factors which contribute to the contamination of duodenoscopes after clinical use and reprocessing. RJ Sealock, M.D. will serve as the local PI for the study.

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New Faculty: Dr. Scott Larson

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July 25: Dr. Scott Larson, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, has joined the Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. His areas of interest include GI fellow education and health care delivery to safety net populations. He will provide services at the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center.  
 

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New Faculty: Dr. Tara Keihanian

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July 8: Tara Keihanian, M.D., M.P.H , assistant professor, has joined the Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Her areas of interest include pancreaticobiliary disorders, endoscopic resection of premalignant lesions and endoscopic treatment of achalasia and gastroparesis. She will be providing services at the McNair Campus and Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center. 

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Gastroenterology Faculty Attended 2022 Digestive Disease Week Conference

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May 21: The Gastroenterology Faculty attended the 2022 Digestive Disease Week Conference. DDW is a conference where our faculty can grow as professionals, discover the latest research and learn about advances in clinical practice. This conference provides the most groundbreaking findings in the gastroenterology field.

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Dr. Kelley Yan Recieved Graham & Schwartz Lectureship Award

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May 12: Dr. Kelley Yan is a physician-scientist trained in diverse disciplines including clinical gastroenterology, structural biology and stem cell biology. She was the recipient of the Graham & Schwartz Lectureship Award.

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Dr. Reena Chokshi Selected Clinical Course Co-director for American Neurogastroenterology & Motility Society Annual Meeting

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March 28: Dr. Reena Chokshi was selected as co-director for the Clinical Course at the 2023 annual meeting of the American Neurogastroenterology & Motility Society. The ANMS is the national society for adult and pediatric GI Motility providers, and their annual conference typically includes a one-day clinical course followed by scientific meeting. 

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21st Annual Gastroenterology and Hepatology Course

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March 26-27, 2022: Gastroenterology and Hepatology held their 21st Annual GI and Liver Course at the Houston Marriott. This was the first time hosting it externally, outside of a BCM facility. The event was a success with over 220 attendees (including hybrid format) and 20 exhibitors. 

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Dr. Ru Chen Participated in NCI Pancreatic Cancer Detection Consortium U01/U24 Grant Review Panel

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March 17: Dr. Ru Chen participated in the grant review panel for NCI Pancreatic Cancer Detection Consortium U01/U24 on March 17. The main purpose of the NCI Pancreatic Cancer Detection Consortium is to conduct research on early detection of pancreatic cancer and characterization of its precursor lesions to identify those patients who are at high risk of progression to cancer.

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2021

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Anorectal Disease Workshop

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Dec. 11: The first-ever Anorectal Disease Workshop was directed by Dr. Waqar Qureshi, professor, Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. In addition to Dr. Qureshi, speakers included Dr. Yesenia Rojas-Khalil and Dr. Rehman Sheikh.

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Anandasabapathy, Mizwa Honored for Global Impact

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Dec. 17: Dr. Sharmila Anandasabapathy, Director of Baylor Global Health and professor of medicine, and Mike Mizwa, CEO of the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative at Texas Children's Hospital, were among the seven Global Health Heroes honored at Medical Bridges 20th annual One People, One World Gala, held Dec. 9 in the Texas Medical Center. The organization aims to bridge the healthcare gap worldwide by distributing medical equipment and supplies to underserved communities.

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2020-2021 Best Global University for Gastroenterology and Hepatology - U.S News & World Report

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Nov. 22: The Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology is ranked #11 nationally according to U.S News & World Report - Best Universities for Gastroenterology and Hepatology and #1 in Texas. These rankings are based on performance across a set of widely accepted indicators measuring excellence in research, publications, and scientific reputation overall. The report encompass nearly 1,500 top institutions across 86 countries.

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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. 

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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. Suneal Agarwal Promoted to Associate Professor

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Oct. 4: Dr. Suneal Agarwal received a promotion from assistant professor to associate professor in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Agarwal has been on the faculty at Baylor College of Medicine since 2014.

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Dr. Charles Cho Selected to 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 to 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.

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New Faculty: Dr. Bingning Dong

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Sept. 22: Dr. Bingning Dong joins the Section of Gastroenterology as an assistant professor. Dr. Dong’s research includes investigating the mechanisms that regulate obesity-associated metabolic diseases and cancer and developing novel therapeutic strategies. Her research program is highly collaborative and integrative, using cutting-edge experimental approaches involving cell culture systems, primary cell and organoid cultures, ex vivo models, and mouse models combined with multiple-omics and bioinformatics analysis.

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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.

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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.

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New Faculty: Dr. Rollin George

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Sept. 1: Dr. Rollin George, joins the Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. He began his practice with the Department of Medicine Aug. 2, 2021, and is providing services at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center.  Dr. George’s areas of interest include general gastroenterology, evaluation and management of chronic anemia and obesity-related digestive disorders.

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New Faculty: Dr. Jessica Bernica

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Aug. 27: Dr. Jessica Bernica joins the Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. She began her practice with the Department of Medicine Aug. 16, 2021, and will be providing services at Baylor McNair Campus, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center and at a satellite clinic at CHI-Sugar Land. Dr. Bernica’s areas of interest include general gastroenterology, gastrointestinal

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Dr. Jason Mills Nominated for 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, and associate director and member of the Internal Advisory Committee of the BCM Digestive Disease Research Center.
 

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New Faculty: Dr. Jordan Sparkman

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Aug. 19: Dr. Jordan Sparkman joins the Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. He began his practice with the Department of Medicine Aug. 9, 2021. Dr. Sparkman will be serving the patients of Harris Health Systems at Ben Taub Hospital. His areas of interests include pancreaticobiliary endoscopy, luminal lesion characterization and resection, as well as the multidisciplinary management of GI oncology patients.

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Dr. Fasiha Kanwal Received 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.

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

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July 30: Baylor College of Medicine’s Gastroenterology and GI Surgery Service has been ranked number 24 in U.S. News & World Report – Best Hospital Ranking

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Dr. Fred Sutton Elected 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.  

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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). 

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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. 

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New Faculty: Jason Mills

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May 7: 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 Announced

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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. 

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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.