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Logo of cmghCellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2017 September; 4(2): 245–250.
Published online 2017 June 27. doi:  10.1016/j.jcmgh.2017.06.002
PMCID: PMC5518167

2017 AGA Council Section Research Mentor Awardees

Each year, Digestive Disease Week brings together the best clinical, translational, and basic science in the field. It is also an opportunity for many trainees and young investigators to present their work, receive advice from senior investigators, and build their professional networks. At Digestive Disease Week 2017, the AGA Institute recognized 1 member from each of the 13 Council sections who have committed themselves to training these young investigators and have shown a track record of outstanding research mentorship. Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology extends our appreciation to the awardees in each section for providing guidance and mentorship to the next generation of researchers.

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Dr Jun Yu (middle) received the 2017 Gastrointestinal Oncology Section Research Mentor Award and is with the 2016–2017 Gastrointestinal Oncology Section Chair Rhonda F. Souza, MD, AGAF, and Vice Chair John P. Lynch, MD, PhD.

2017 AGA Council Section Research Mentor Awardees

Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology Section: Nigel W. Bunnett, PhD

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Nigel Bunnett obtained a PhD from the University of Cambridge. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California Los Angeles, he was appointed an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington. In 1987, he joined the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and remained there for 25 years, becoming a Professor of Surgery and Physiology, Vice Chair of Surgery, and a Director of the UCSF Center for the Neurobiology of Digestive Diseases. Dr Bunnett joined Monash University in 2011 as a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Australia Fellow, Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine, and Deputy Director of the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Science. In 2016, Dr Bunnett joined Columbia University as a Carrus Professor and Vice Chair of Research for the Departments of Surgery and Pharmacology. He is Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Physiology (Gastrointestinal, Liver). Dr Bunnett's studies have included signaling of receptors and ion channels that control pain, itch, and neurogenic inflammation. He seeks to understand physiological mechanisms of control, how dysregulation causes disease, and to develop new treatments for digestive and sensory diseases. He has published approximately 350 articles, reviews, and chapters, has been cited 27,000 times, and is funded by the NHMRC, Australian Research Council (ARC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Takeda Pharmaceuticals. His contributions have been recognized by the Australia Fellowship (the highest award from the NHMRC), the NIH MERIT Award (10 years' funding), Novartis Neurogastroenterology Award, Jansen Award for Basic Research in Gastroenterology, and the Victor Mutt Award for Research in Regulatory Peptides. Dr Bunnett is committed to mentorship and education. He has supervised more than 60 postdoctoral fellows and more than 35 students, most of whom have successful careers in academia and industry. Teaching awards from UCSF include Major Contribution to Teaching, Excellence in Innovative Curricular Design, and Excellence in Direct Teaching.

Clinical Practice Section: Ernst Johan Kuipers, MD, PhD, AGAF

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Ernst Kuipers is a Professor of Medicine at the Erasmus Medical Center University Medical Center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He has served since 2013 as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Erasmus Medical Center. He studied Medicine and trained in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology. His PhD research focused on gastric cancer. He subsequently worked at Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN). He became Chair of the Departments of Gastroenterology (2000), Internal Medicine (2006), and Surgery (2012) of the Erasmus Medical Center. His clinical and research interests include early neoplastic conditions of the gastrointestinal tract. He strongly advocates that young colleagues fully dedicate the first years of their career to research. Under his supervision, 75 PhD students completed their thesis. He contributed to international guidelines on the management of esophageal, gastric, and colorectal neoplasia in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region. He was President of the European Helicobacter Study Group and the Dutch Society of Gastroenterologists. He is the Work Endoscopy Organisation (WEO) regional lead on colorectal cancer screening for Europe and the Middle East, a member of the advisory board of the European Society of Digestive Oncology, and a member of the Dutch National Health Council. He, among others, has received the Ismar Boas Medal of the German Gastroenterology Society (2015), and the United European Gastroenterology Research Prize (2016).

Esophageal, Gastric, and Duodenal Disorders Section: Prateek Sharma, MD

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Prateek Sharma is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and the Director of the Fellowship Training Program at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Kansas School of Medicine (Kansas City, KS). He received his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees from M.S. University of Baroda India, completed his Internal Medicine Residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin (Milwaukee, WI), and his Gastroenterology Fellowship at the University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ). Dr Sharma’s research has focused on upper-gastrointestinal diseases including Barrett’s esophagus, esophageal cancer, and gastroesophageal reflux disease, and advanced imaging for esophageal and colon cancer. He has more than 350 publications including original articles and book chapters related to these topics and has presented at major national and international meetings. Dr Sharma recently wrote an invited review article on Barrett’s esophagus in the New England Journal of Medicine. He recently co-edited a book entitled “Barrett’s Esophagus & Esophageal Adenocarcinoma.” Dr Sharma has had publications in high-impact journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine, Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, American Journal of Gastroenterology, Gastroenterology, Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, and Gut. He serves as a reviewer for most of the major medicine and gastroenterology subspecialty journals. He has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek.

Gastrointestinal Oncology Section: Jun Yu, MD, PhD, AGAF

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Jun Yu is a Professor at the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Director of the Research Laboratory at the Institute of Digestive Disease, and Associate Director of the State Key Laboratory of Digestive Disease, at the Faculty of Medicine at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Dr Yu obtained her MD and PhD at Tongji Medical University in 1994 and then she embarked on her degree as a gastrointestinal specialist at Beijing University, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in Germany and CUHK Hong Kong, and a Senior Research Officer at University of Sydney. She has been a CUHK faculty member since 2005. Her research interests are mainly on gastrointestinal cancers in relation to genomic, epigenomic, and metagenomic alterations; molecular mechanisms; and biomarkers. Dr Yu has published more than 320 peer-reviewed articles (55 articles impact factor > 10) and 9 books or book chapters. Dr Yu has earned 17 prestigious awards, including The State Natural Science Award China 2016, The State Scientific and Technological Progress Award (Innovation Team) 2016, Croucher Senior Research Fellowship Hong Kong 2016, The State Science and Technology Progress Award China 2012, First-Class of Higher Education Outstanding Scientific Research Output Awards (2010, 2012, and 2014), and the Research Excellence Award CUHK in 2010. Dr Yu is serving as an Associate Editor for Oncogene and is on the Editorial Board for Gut, Scientific Reports, and the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Dr Yu has supervised or is supervising 34 postgraduate students, 21 postdoctoral fellows, 43 young visiting scientists, and 33 summer attachments. The next generation of researchers has obtained various awards/prizes and published high-impact articles.

Growth, Development, and Child Health Section: Paul Erick Hyman, MD

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Paul E. Hyman is the Eberhard Schmidt–Sommerfeld Professor of Pediatric Gastroenterology at Louisiana State University and the Chief of Pediatric Gastroenterology at the Children’s Hospital of New Orleans. He attended the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, where he received the first American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Student Research Award. He completed his pediatric residency at the New York University–Bellevue Hospital Medical Center. He was a fellow in Digestive Diseases at the National Institutes of Health and a fellow in Pediatric Gastroenterology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr Hyman’s research has focused on pediatric gastrointestinal motility disorders, chronic visceral pain, and children’s functional gastrointestinal disorders. In 1999, Dr Hyman chaired the Pediatric Rome II Working Team, charged with developing symptom-based criteria for the diagnosis of childhood functional bowel disorders. In 2002, Dr Hyman received an Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Gastroenterology from AGA. Dr Hyman co-chaired the infants/toddler Rome III working team, and was a member of the Rome IV infant/toddler working team. In 2007, Dr Hyman received a senior investigator award from the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. He has published more than 125 peer-reviewed articles and edited 3 books, and he has given invited lectures all over the world.

Imaging and Advanced Technology Section: Kenneth K. Wang, MD, AGAF

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Kenneth Wang is a consultant and director of advanced endoscopy in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN), where he completed both his Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology training. He was awarded the Russ and Kathy Van Cleve Professor of Gastroenterology Research in 2012. His research focus is on Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma, for which he has been supported continuously by the NIH for more than 20 years as well as having been funded on a variety of imaging technologies by the National Science Foundation. He founded the Barrett’s Esophagus Unit at the Mayo Clinic and established a specialty clinical unit that treats this condition and the associated adenocarcinoma with the most advanced techniques. He has been involved in developing biomarkers, advanced imaging, ablation technologies, and mucosal resection techniques that have led to significant changes in the clinical management of dysplasia and adenocarcinoma. He has been a proponent of mentoring and medical education, receiving awards from the Mayo School of Medicine and the Department of Internal Medicine and has full faculty privileges in the Clinical and Translational Science program. He has developed several endoscopic courses and is a past President of the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy as well as a past President of the International Society of Diseases of the Esophagus. He has been the associate editor of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Immunology, Microbiology, and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Section: Gordon R. Greenberg, MD

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Gordon Greenberg completed medical school and his internship at the University of Calgary (Alberta, Canada). He undertook his internal medicine training and his gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Toronto in Canada, and then completed a research fellowship in Gastrointestinal Endocrinology at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London, England. In 1979, he joined the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto, and rose through the ranks to being cross-appointed as a full Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Physiology by 1992. Dr Greenberg was a dedicated clinician scientist who was highly committed to research and was inspirational to his colleagues and trainees. He served as a role model for researchers and clinicians who admired his dedication to both scientific inquiry and patient care. Trained as a classic physiologist, Dr Greenberg made many contributions to understanding neuroendocrine control of gut function, however, his true love was clinical research of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). He pioneered early research into nutritional support in IBD patients, then showed that the Canadian IBD community could collaborate successfully to conduct large-scale clinical trials with his early randomized controlled trial of budesonide for the treatment of Crohn’s disease. More recently, his interest was in the pharmacokinetics of tumor necrosis factor antagonists in IBD, and he laid the foundation for research into therapeutic drug monitoring. Dr Greenberg has published extensively in the medical literature, lectured nationally and internationally, and his presence is dearly missed in the IBD community.

Intestinal Disorders Section: Nicholas O. Davidson, MD, DSc, AGAF

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Nicholas Davidson is the John E. and Adaline Simon Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology at Washington University School of Medicine. Dr Davidson graduated from Kings College Medical School in London, and undertook postdoctoral research training at Rockefeller University followed by Gastroenterology Fellowship training at Columbia University College of Physicians and Scientists in New York. Dr Davidson’s long-standing research activities have focused on the molecular genetics of RNA editing and intestinal lipid metabolism, where he has made important advances in our understanding of the mechanisms and mediators of C-to-U RNA editing. Dr Davidson also studies the genetic pathways of hepatic steatosis and metabolic liver disease, including gallstones and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Dr Davidson’s clinical interests have focused on various aspects of colorectal cancer, including inherited and familial syndromes, as well as studies to advance the understanding of disparities and poverty, looking specifically at neighborhood and geographic impact. Dr Davidson is the Director of the Digestive Disease Research Core Center at Washington University and also is the Director of the T-32 training program in Academic Gastroenterology, which supports academic training for GI Fellows with a goal of nurturing and supporting their careers as leaders of our subspecialty. Dr Davidson is an Associate Editor of Hepatology and the Journal of Lipid Research, and is the chair of the editorial board for Gastroenterology.

Liver and Biliary Section: Arun J. Sanyal, MD

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Arun J. Sanyal is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, and Executive Director of the Education Core Center for Clinical and Translational Research at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. He received his MBBS from Maulana Azad Medical College of Delhi University, India, and his MD from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. Dr Sanyal completed his Internal Medicine residency at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (Amarillo, TX), and a Fellowship in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Virginia Commonwealth University, where he has remained on the faculty as a professor and clinician. Over the past 10 years, Dr Sanyal’s research interests have focused on clinical studies of NAFLD, the role of the microbiome in NAFLD and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, and the development of effective therapy for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, among other areas. He has authored or co-authored more than 200 articles and multiple book chapters. He has served on the editorial boards for the American Journal of Gastroenterology, Gut, and Hepatology, and has been an associate editor for the therapeutic recommendations section of The Gastroenterologist, Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, and Liver International. Dr Sanyal was involved in the development of the American College of Gastroenterology and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases guidelines on the management of variceal hemorrhage, and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases practice guidelines on NAFLD. His research over the past 20 years has been funded primarily by major grants from the NIH.

Microbiome and Microbial Diseases in the Gastrointestinal Tract Section: John F. Cryan, PhD

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John F. Cryan is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, University College Cork, and serves on the University’s Governing Body. He is also a Principal Investigator at the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre Microbiome Institute and was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2017. He received a BSc (Hons) and PhD from the National University of Ireland in Galway, Ireland. He was a visiting fellow at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Australia, which was followed by Postdoctoral Fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA) and The Scripps Research Institute (La Jolla, CA). He spent 4 years at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Basel, Switzerland, as a LabHead before joining University College Cork in 2005. Professor Cryan's current research is focused on understanding the interaction between the brain, gut, and microbiome, and how it applies to stress, psychiatric disorders, and immune-related disorders at key time windows across the lifespan. Professor Cryan has published more than 370 peer-reviewed articles and has a H-index of 76. He is a Senior Editor of Neuropharmacology and of Nutritional Neuroscience, and an Editor of the British Journal of Pharmacology. He is on the editorial board of another 15 journals. He has edited 3 books including “Microbial Endocrinology: The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis in Health and Disease” (Springer Press, 2014) and is a co-author of the forthcoming “The Psychobiotic Revolution: Mood, Food, and the New Science of the Gut-Brain Connection” from National Geographic Press. He has received numerous awards including University College Cork Researcher of the Year in 2012, the University of Utrecht Award for Excellence in Pharmaceutical Research in 2013, and being named on the Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher list in 2014. He was a TEDMED speaker in 2014 and currently is the President-elect of the European Behavioural Pharmacology Society.

Neurogastroenterology and Motility Section: Raj Goyal, MD

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Raj K. Goyal currently serves as the Mallinckrodt Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and as a Staff Physician at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System. He is a founder of the American Motility Society (renamed the American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society) and has served as its president and was a recipient of its Distinguished Achievement Award. He is a recipient of the Janssen Award for Lifetime Achievement in Gastrointestinal Motility and the William S. Middleton Award of the Department of Veterans Affairs. He has served as Associate Editor and then as Editor-in-Chief of Gastroenterology. He served as Chief of the Gastroenterology Division at Beth-Israel Hospital (now Beth Israel–Deaconess Hospital) in Boston. He co-edited GI Motility online. His research has been focused on the physiology and pathophysiology of gastrointestinal motility, particularly of the esophagus. A related area of his research interest has been Barrett’s esophagus and he has co-edited the book, “Barrett’s Esophagus”. His current work is focused on the role of an intracellular motor, myosin 5a, in neuromuscular transmission, and the pathophysiology of diabetic motor gastropathy. His research has been supported by grants from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the Veterans Administration. He credits his research accomplishments to his brilliant mentees, who provided new ideas and above all provided fearless criticism and provided inspiration for research. His mentees include academic gastroenterologists and physiologists and many of them in turn have distinguished themselves as strong mentors.

Obesity, Metabolism, and Nutrition Section: David H. Alpers, MD, AGAF

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David H. Alpers, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, has spent most of his career at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, for 28 years as the Director of the Division of Gastroenterology, and since then as Co-Director of the Center for Human Nutrition and its NIH Nutrition Obesity Research Core. His laboratory research has involved small intestinal physiology, especially the role of binding proteins in cobalamin absorption, and of intestinal alkaline phosphatase in fat absorption. He has consulted widely with pharmaceutical companies on drug development in disorders related to gastroenterology and nutrition. He has trained more than 120 GI fellows, and has provided mentorship for more than 60 NORC-funded pilot project awardees. He has served as Editor-in-Chief for the American Journal of Physiology Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, as a member of the Journal of Biological Chemistry editorial board, as co-editor for Current Opinion Small Intestine/Nutrition, and as an assistant editor for The Journal of Clinical Investigation and The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (current). He was an associate editor for “Yamada’s Textbook of Gastroenterology” (editions 1–5), and is a senior author of the “Manual of Nutritional Therapeutics,” which is now in its sixth edition. He has served as the AGA Chair of the Training and Education Committee, as Director of the Undergraduate Teaching Project, and as President of the AGA. He received the AGA’s Friedenwald medal, and the American Physiological Society's Distinguished Research Award in Gastrointestinal Physiology, and is an honorary member of the British Society of Gastroenterology, a Fellow of the American Society for Nutritional Sciences, and a Foreign Member of the French National Academy of Medicine.

Pancreatic Disorders Section: Peter A. Banks, MD

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Peter A. Banks is a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Center for Pancreatic Disease at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He initiated and co-directs the Academic Clinical Tract of the GI Fellowship Training Program. Dr Banks established 2 endowments that provide funds that enable Clinical Fellows to complete a Masters program at the Harvard School of Public Health. Many of the Fellows who have completed this program are recognized nationally for their contributions in clinical research. Dr Banks’ major contributions in clinical research are in the field of pancreatitis. His early collaboration with radiology showed that guided percutaneous aspiration was a safe and accurate method to diagnose infection of the pancreas. His ongoing contributions in pancreatology include research in the early recognition of severity and improvement of treatment in acute pancreatitis. Fellows always have taken a leadership role in this research. Many of the individuals whom he has mentored now are established pancreatologists. He is Past President of both the American Pancreatic Association (APA) and the International Association of Pancreatology. He has served as Chair of the Pancreatic Disorders Section of the AGA. Dr Banks’ awards at Brigham and Women's Hospital include the Jerry S. Trier Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching; the James S. Winshall, MD, Leadership Award; and the Distinguished Clinician Award. National awards include the Distinguished Educator Award by the AGA, the Berk/Fise Clinical Achievement Award by the American College of Gastroenterology, and the Vay Liang and Frisca Go Award for Lifetime Achievement by the APA. Dr Banks was a co-author of both the “Atlanta Classification” and the “Revised Atlanta Classification” of acute pancreatitis. He has written guidelines for the treatment of acute pancreatitis and 2 books on pancreatitis.

Articles from Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology are provided here courtesy of Elsevier