Team Bios

Maria Abreu, MD, AGAF
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Maria T. Abreu, MD, AGAF, is chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and professor of medicine at the University of Miami Health System/Miller School of Medicine. Dr. Abreu serves as a member of the Medical Advisory Board at Asana Medical, Inc. Dr. Abreu has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and reviews. She is a diplomate of the National Board of Medical Examiners, the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Gastroenterology, and she is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. 
 
Dr. Abreu’s research interest is host–bacterial interactions and, in particular, the role of toll-like receptor signaling in intestinal inflammation. Her translational work has focused on genotype-phenotype relationships in inflammatory bowel disease and prediction of response to medical therapies. She is a frequent speaker at national and international symposia on basic science and clinical topics. Her postdoctoral training included an internship and residency in medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She then completed fellowship training in gastroenterology and a postdoctoral fellowship in molecular and cancer biology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to joining the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Dr. Abreu served as director of the IBD Center and associate professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Dr. Abreu received her undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Miami.
 
Dr. Abreu has previously worked on the editorial board of Gastroenterology, was chair of the AGA Institute Council, liaison to the Education & Training Committee, and ex officio of the Center for Gut Microbiome Research and Education Scientific Advisory Board.
 
Yelina Alvarez, MD, PhD
University of Pennsylvania Health System
Yelina Alvarez, MD, PhD, was born in Havana, Cuba, and emigrated to the United States in 1998. After graduating high school, Dr. Alvarez attended Miami Dade College where she participated in the Bridges to the Future program that gave her the opportunity to work in a research laboratory for the first time. Since then, she has been focused on developing her career as a medical scientist. She transferred to Stanford University and completed a bachelor's of science degree in biological sciences in 2005. As part of the NIH Undergraduate Scholarship program, she worked in John Coligan’s laboratory for one year at the NIH.  
 
She was accepted into the Medical Scientist Training Program at New York University (NYU). Her thesis mentor was Dr. Catarina Hioe, who is a constant inspiration to her as a woman and as a brilliant scientist. Because Dr. Alvarez has always been interested in the immune system, her thesis work was focused on the susceptibility of Th17 cells, a T-cell subset, to HIV infection. She stayed at NYU for her residency in internal medicine in the basic science track and worked in the laboratory of Dr. Martin Blaser on the effects of the microbiome in inflammatory bowel disease. She is still committed to a career in science, which is why, as part of her gastroenterology fellowship training, she is working in the laboratory of Dr. Christoph Thaiss to study the environmental effects on the intestinal microbiome. 
John Carethers, MD, AGAF
University of Michigan
John M. Carethers, MD, AGAF, has been the John G. Searle professor and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan since November 2009. As chair, he oversees more than 880 paid faculty in their academic, clinical, and teaching roles as they relate to the overall integration with the health system’s missions of clinical excellence, education and discovery. Dr. Carethers is a trained gastroenterologist and physician-scientist whose research focuses on hereditary colon cancer genetics.  
 
Dr. Carethers earned his bachelor's degree in biological sciences with a minor in chemistry from Wayne State University, and he was awarded his medical degree with high distinction from the same institution. Dr. Carethers completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by a fellowship in gastroenterology at the University of Michigan. He served in leadership roles, including as the gastroenterology fellowship director, the gastroenterology section chief for the San Diego VA Hospital and then division chief for UC San Diego before being recruited to Michigan. He was the founding director of the NIH-funded UCSD Gastroenterology Center grant and was the director of the gastroenterology T32 training grant. He has published more than 200 manuscripts and book chapters. He was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the American Association of Physicians (AAP) and serves on the AAP Council. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2012 and elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2016.
 
As chair of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, Dr. Carethers has been involved in and directed initiatives related to quality, palliative care, basic and clinical research, faculty and leadership recruitment, clinical program development, research program development, philanthropy, strategic planning and education expansion, including continuing medical education among others. Dr. Carethers currently serves as a member of the AGA Finance & Operations Committee as well as its Investment Subcommittee.
 
Dominique Bailey, MD
Columbia University Medical Center
Dominique Bailey, MD, MSEd, is an instructor in pediatrics and an assistant attending pediatrician for the Columbia University Irving Medical Center at the New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. 
 
Dr. Bailey graduated from Duke University with a degree in cellular and molecular biology and then obtained a master's degree in urban education from the University of Pennsylvania. She attended Georgetown University School of Medicine and completed her pediatric residency and pediatric gastroenterology fellowship at Columbia University Irving Medical Center at the New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. There she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the developmental biology laboratory of Dr. Jianwen Que, where she continues her current research under his mentorship. She joined the faculty of the Columbia University Medical Center at the New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in 2018. 
 
Dr. Bailey’s research focuses on basic science/translational research in eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), and she developed the first pediatric EoE biorepository at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Her current research addresses the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the pathophysiology of EoE. In addition to her current research, Dr. Bailey collaborates with subspecialists in the Division of Allergy, Immunology & Rheumatology and Pediatric Transplant Hepatology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center to further our understanding of the role of the immune system in patients who develop eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases after liver transplantation. She was awarded an NIH Research Supplement to promote diversity in health-related research and the Consortium of Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease Researchers Training Grant.
 
Dr. Bailey is a member of AGA and the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition, where she is currently a member of the Professional Education Committee.
C. Richard Boland, MD, AGAF
University of San Diego School of Medicine
C. Richard (Rick) Boland, MD, AGAF, is a professor of medicine at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. He was born and raised in upstate New York, earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1969 and his medical degree from Yale Medical School in 1973. He has a career-long research interest in colorectal cancer (CRC), specifically focusing on the genetic causes of CRC and familial cancer syndromes.
 
Dr. Boland started studying familial CRC as a medical student and wrote a thesis on proposing a novel familial aspect of the disease. After clinical training (and two years as a general medical officer in the Indian Health Service), he resumed research with Young S. Kim, MD, at the University of California, San Francisco, to study glycoprotein biochemistry in CRC. At the University of Michigan, he continued work on cancer-associated glycoprotein alterations; however, he redirected his focus in 1990 to the molecular genetics of CRC following a sabbatical in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, at which time he resumed work on the hereditary CRC disease that he named “Lynch syndrome.” He was among the first gastroenterologists to explore “microsatellite instability” in cancer, and his laboratory developed the first in vitro models to study the basic biology of Lynch syndrome, using stable chromosome transfer to correct DNA mismatch repair deficiencies in cultured cells. In recent years, he has contributed to our understanding of the genetic and epigenetic basis of CRC. 
 
Dr. Boland has been an active clinician and teacher. He has been funded continuously by NIH since 1979, has served on multiple NIH (and other) study sections and was the chair of the Clinical Integrative Molecular Gastroenterology Study Section in 2014. He has published nearly 400 papers, has an H-Index of 86, and has written authoritative chapters for several textbooks on internal medicine, gastroenterology and genetics. He was elected into the Association of American Physicians in 2001. Dr. Boland was president of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) from 2011 to 2012, was given the AGA Oncology Section Distinguished Mentor Award, the AGA Beaumont Prize for his research in 2015 and the AGA Friedenwald Medal in 2016.
Veroushka Ballester, MD, MSc
Columbia University Medical Center
Veroushka Ballester, MD, MSc, graduated from medical school at the University of Puerto Rico where she did most of her training, including a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in gastroenterology. As a gastroenterology fellow, she completed a master's of science degree in clinical and translational research at the University of Puerto Rico, where she was also a recipient of a NIH Hispanic Clinical and Translational Research Education and Career Developmental Award. She later completed an advanced fellowship in gastrointestinal cancer at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She joined the faculty of Digestive and Liver Diseases at Columbia University Medical Center in 2015. 
 
Dr. Ballester’s clinical interest lies in the field of gastrointestinal cancer, particularly on the genetics associated with hereditary colon cancer syndromes. Her research has focused in colorectal cancer, specifically focusing on methylated DNA markers for screening and diagnostic applications.
Gail Hecht, MD, MS, AGAF
Loyola University Medical Center
Gail Hecht, MD, MS, AGAF, earned her medical degree from Loyola University Chicago's Stritch School of Medicine. She completed her residency in internal medicine at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis and received fellowship training in gastroenterology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Most of her career was spent at the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago, where she rose to the rank of professor of medicine and microbiology/immunology and chief of digestive diseases and nutrition. She was recruited to Loyola University Chicago in 2013, where she is a professor of medicine and microbiology/immunology, chief of gastroenterology and nutrition and assistant dean for Medical Student Research.
 
The focus of Dr. Hecht’s research is host–pathogen interactions, with specific emphasis on enteropathogenic Escherichia coli and enterohemorrhagic E coli. Her research is funded by both NIH and the VA. She also has an interest in the gut microbiome and its impact on intestinal function and health.
 
Dr. Hecht serves as editor-in-chief of the journal Gut Microbes. Dr. Hecht has been very active in AGA, functioning as chair of the Intestinal Disorders Section of the AGA Council, basic research councilor to the Governing Board, and, ultimately, serving as president from 2009 to 2010. She is only the second woman to serve in that capacity. She is the current chair of the AGA Microbiome Center for Research and Education.
 
Oriana Damas, MD
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Oriana M. Damas, MD, is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Miami Crohn's and Colitis Center in the Division of Gastroenterology. She has a clinical and research interest in the field of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Her research integrates genetic and environmental factors, including diet, that may be important in the development of IBD. 
 
She has received NIH funding for projects that seek to understand the factors contributing to the rise of IBD in emerging populations (e.g., Hispanics). She was also one of the first to describe the epidemiology and phenotypic manifestations of Hispanics living in the United States.
Jorge Marrero, MD, MS, AGAF
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Jorge Marrero, MD, MS, AGAF, is professor of internal medicine and medical director of the liver transplantation program at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He specializes in liver transplantation for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. In addition to liver transplantation, he specializes in treating liver disease.
 
Dr. Marrero received his gastroenterology training at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he discovered his interest in liver disease and liver transplantation. His research focuses on detecting early-stage liver cancer in patients with liver disease. He is also involved in several clinical trials of new agents being evaluated for liver cancer.
 
Dr. Marrero is a founding member of the International Liver Cancer Association and a member of the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease, American College of Gastroenterology, AGA and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s Hepatobiliary Committee.
 
Dr. Marrero has lectured globally and written and reviewed numerous research articles and book chapters for publications such as the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and the Journal of Clinical Oncology. He currently serves as a member of the AGA Publications Committee.
Patricia Jones, MD, MSCR
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Patricia Jones, MD, MSCR, is an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Dr. Jones completed her undergraduate training at Johns Hopkins University in 2001 with dual degrees in chemistry and Spanish. She attended Albany Medical College and graduated magna cum laude in 2007. She completed residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where she also completed training in gastroenterology and transplant hepatology. Supported by a T32 training grant in digestive disease epidemiology, Dr. Jones obtained her master of science in clinical research from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health in 2014.
 
In 2015, Dr. Jones joined the faculty of the University of Miami, which is where she is building a research program focused on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cancer disparities. Through a diversity supplement awarded from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Dr. Jones has been using community-based participatory research to test the feasibility and acceptability of home-based screening for hepatitis B, a key cause of HCC globally and in South Florida. Dr. Jones has established a prospective database and biorepository of diverse patients with chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, HCC and cholangiocarcinoma that will be used to support future translational studies and multicenter collaborations. Dr. Jones is currently participating in an NIH-funded multicenter study investigating the multilevel determinants contributing to disparities in HCC. 
 
Dr. Jones is a member of AGA, the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, where she serves on the Practice Guidelines Committee. 
John Inadomi, MD, AGAF
University of Washington School of Medicine
John M. Inadomi, MD, AGAF, is the Cyrus E Rubin Professor of Medicine and head of the Division of Gastroenterology at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. Dr. Inadomi has been a faculty member at the University of New Mexico, the University of Michigan and the University of California, San Francisco, where he was the Dean M. Craig endowed chair in gastrointestinal medicine. Dr. Inadomi currently serves as fourth head of the Division of Gastroenterology in the Department of Medicine at University of Washington School of Medicine since he joined in 2010. Dr. Inadomi is a gastroenterologist with expertise in comparative effectiveness research. He was chair of the AGA Clinical Practice and Quality Management Committee and a member of the American Board of Internal Medicine's Subspecialty Board in Gastroenterology. He is currently an associate editor of Gastroenterology and is a term member of the NIH NIDDK DDK-C Study Section. He serves as a member of the scientific advisory board at Cernostics, Inc.
 
After earning a bachelor’s degree in biomechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1984, Dr. Inadomi received his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco, in 1988. Dr. Inadomi’s research has been recognized nationwide, including by the NIH, which granted him multiple awards to further his research on new techniques to decrease mortality from esophageal adenocarcinoma and to test novel interventions to increase adherence to colorectal cancer screening tests.
 
He has been named a “Top Doctor” in Seattle Met Magazine since 2013 and authored AGA guidelines for the management of Barrett’s esophagus and the clinical guide to colorectal cancer screening that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine. Among his many accomplishments, he is most proud of the young investigators whose careers he has helped to successfully develop.
Folasade (Fola) May, MD, PhD, MPhil
University of California at Los Angeles
VA Health Administration
Folasade (Fola) May, MD, PhD, MPhil, is an assistant professor of medicine in the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and a staff physician in gastroenterology in the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System. Dr. May graduated from Yale University with a degree in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. She then attended the University of Cambridge where she obtained a master's degree in epidemiology. She attended Harvard Medical School and trained in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital before joining the UCLA Specialty Training and Advanced Research Program, where she completed her gastroenterology fellowship and a doctorate in health policy and management from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. 
 
She is the current director of quality improvement in gastroenterology for UCLA Health and practices general gastroenterology in the VA Health Administration. Her health services research focuses on health disparities and cancer prevention/control at UCLA Health, in federally qualified health centers and in the VA. She is passionate about improving colorectal cancer awareness and colorectal cancer screening, especially in underserved populations for whom screening rates are lowest.
Darwin Conwell, MD, MS
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
Darwin Conwell, MD, MS, completed his undergraduate degree from The Ohio State University and received his doctor of medicine degree from the University of Cincinnati. In addition, he earned a master of science degree from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. His training in internal medicine was completed at The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati and was then followed by his postdoctoral fellowship training in gastroenterology at The Cleveland Clinic. He is a member of the American Pancreatic Association, American College of Gastroenterology and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.
 
Dr. Conwell is currently a professor of medicine and director of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition in the Department of Internal Medicine at The Ohio State University. He previously served as a staff physician at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation from 1994 through 2007. Dr. Conwell established and directed The Pancreas Clinic at The Cleveland Clinic for more than a decade. In 2007, he joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School and was promoted to associate professor of medicine in 2011. Dr. Conwell served as the faculty leader for the Pancreas Study Group at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard and was the associate director for the Center for Pancreatic Disease at that same institution.
 
Dr. Conwell has won teaching awards both at The Cleveland Clinic and Harvard's Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He won the Harvard Medical School Tutor Award twice. He has guided and mentored numerous postdoctoral fellows who are now in academic positions. 
 
Dr. Conwell is extremely interested in interdisciplinary clinical and translational research projects relating to gastrointestinal diseases. He is currently NIH/NIDDK funded to examine pancreatic fluid proteomics in alcohol-induced chronic pancreatitis.
Marcia Cruz-Correa, MD, PhD, AGAF
University of Puerto Rico 
Comprehensive Cancer Center
Marcia R. Cruz-Correa, MD, PhD, AGAF, received her medical degree from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) School of Medicine in San Juan, where she also completed her residency in internal medicine. She completed her gastroenterology and hepatology fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Dr. Cruz-Correa was awarded a doctorate degree in clinical investigation from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is board certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology.
 
Dr. Cruz-Correa’s research focuses on gastroenterologic oncology. She is the scientific director at the UPR Comprehensive Cancer Center and the director of the Clinical Cancer Genetics Program at the UPR Medical Sciences campus. In addition to her research work, Dr. Cruz-Correa focuses much of her time on mentoring future generations of gastroenterologists.
 
Dr. Cruz-Correa has been an active member on AGA committees for nearly 20 years. She served as the chair of the AGA Career Advisory Program as well as the AGA Women’s Committee. In 2011, she was appointed chair of the National Cancer Advisory Board by President Obama. In May 2016, Dr. Cruz-Correa was elected to the AGA Institute Governing Board as an at-large councilor.
Antonio Mendoza-Ladd, MD
Texas Tech University at El Paso
Antonio Mendoza-Ladd, MD, graduated cum laude from the University of San Carlos in Guatemala. He completed his internal medicine residency and general gastroenterology fellowship at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York and subsequently trained in interventional endoscopy at Geisinger Medical Center in Pennsylvania. During his education and training, he obtained several distinctions, including the University of San Carlos Catedra Prima excellence award, the New York University Robert M. Glickman award for excellence in research, the New York Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy video forum award and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Crystal Award for colorectal cancer awareness outreach.
 
He is a member and fellow of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and the American College of Gastroenterology. He is also a member of the Texas Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and AGA, where he serves as a member of the AGA Academy of Educators. He has served in numerous committees in all of these professional associations.
 
During his time at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) in El Paso, he pioneered interventional endoscopy in the region. Some of his achievements include performing the first endoscopic ultrasonography-directed transgastric endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography and endoscopic full-thickness resection of colonic lesions in Texas. He currently serves as the medical director of endoscopy at University Medical Center and is a key clinical faculty member of the TTUHSC El Paso gastroenterology fellowship program. His clinical interests include endoscopic techniques and devices, biliary disorders and, in particular, management of acute and chronic pancreatitis. He has authored several original articles in peer-reviewed journals.
 
David A. Lieberman, MD, AGAF
Oregon Health and Science University
David A. Lieberman, MD, AGAF, received his medical degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Dr. Lieberman completed his residency in internal medicine and gastroenterology fellowship at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. He is board certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology. He has served as chief, division of gastroenterology, and professor of medicine at Oregon Health and Science University since 1998.
 
Dr. Lieberman’s research has been funded by NIH and the VA and is focused on esophageal diseases, colorectal cancer screening and surveillance as well as endoscopic quality and outcomes. His recent work focuses on measuring and improving the quality of colonoscopies.
 
Dr. Lieberman has served on a number of AGA committees and is the current chair of the Colorectal Cancer Advisory Panel. He is a member of the Clinical Practice Update Committee and the Patient Engagement Task Force, as well as the AGA Legacy Society. Dr. Lieberman became president of the AGA Institute on June 2018.
Akinbowale (Akin) Oyalowo, MD
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Akinbowale (Akin) Oyalowo, MD, is currently an Instructor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and an attending physician at the University of Pennsylvania Health System. Dr. Oyalowo has an interest in health services research with a primary focus in leveraging the principles of implementation science to increase colorectal cancer screening, particularly in vulnerable patient populations and in community-based settings. He has also conducted research to identify and characterize novel interventions to increase screening uptake. Other academic and clinical areas of interest include general gastrointestinal medicine, improving access to care, appropriate use of endoscopy, health policy and advocacy.
 
Dr. Oyalowo graduated from Brown University with a bachelor’s degree in biology and earned his medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He completed residency in internal medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and was awarded a gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently enrolled in the master of science in health policy research program at the University of Pennsylvania with an expected graduation date of May 2019. He serves as a member of the AGA Congressional Advocates Program.
Hashem E. El-Serag, MD, MPH, AGAF
Baylor College of Medicine
Hashem B. El-Serag, MD, MPH, AGAF, received his medical degree from Al Arab Medical University in Benghazi, Libya. He then completed his residency in internal medicine at Greenwich Hospital at Yale University and his gastroenterology fellowship at University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where he also earned a master’s degree in public health. He served as chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, from 2007 to 2016. In 2017, Dr. El-Serag was appointed the Margaret and Albert Allek professor chairman in the Department of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
 
Dr. El-Serag’s research focuses on the outcomes and clinical epidemiology of gastrointestinal and liver diseases, including Barrett’s esophagus, gastroesophageal reflux disease, hepatocellular carcinoma and hepatitis C. He has more than 400 publications and grant funding from NIH and the VA. He has won numerous awards for his work in the field such as the Michael E. DeBakey Excellence in Research Award in 2016. Dr. El-Serag is an elected member of American Society for Clinical Investigators and American Association of Physicians.
 
Dr. El-Serag has made a lasting impact on AGA’s scientific publications, serving as the editor-in-chief for Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology from 2012 to 2017 and as the associate editor of Gastroenterology from 2007 to 2011. He has been a member of multiple committees at AGA, including the Research Policy Committee, Nominating Committee, Future Trends Committee and Publication Committee. Dr. El-Serag currently sits on the AGA Institute Governing Board as president-elect and is line to become president of the AGA Institute in May 2019.
Nneka Ufere, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital
Nneka Ufere, MD, was born in Nigeria and grew up outside of Atlanta, GA. She completed a bachelor's degree in molecular and cellular biology with a minor in psychology at Harvard College. She attended medical school at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and completed her residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she also served as a chief medical resident during the 2015 to 2016 academic year. She is a current gastroenterology fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and intends to complete an advanced fellowship in transplant hepatology. She is currently pursuing a master of science degree in clinical epidemiology at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. 
 
Dr. Ufere is currently in her postdoctoral research fellowship and has research interests that center around palliative and supportive care and informed decision-making for patients with advanced liver disease. She looks forward to an academic career dedicated to developing interventions aimed at improving the quality of life and end-of-life care for patients with advanced liver disease and their caregivers.  
Robert Sandler, MD, MPH, AGAF
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Robert S. Sandler, MD, MPH, AGAF, received his undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, from Union College in Schenectady, New York. He received his medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine and his master's of public health from University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. Dr. Sandler has committed his entire professional career to UNC, serving in growing capacities since he first joined the Department of Medicine as a gastrointestinal medicine fellow in 1978. He now serves as the Nina C. and John T. Sessions distinguished professor of medicine.
 
Dr. Sandler can be credited with giving the field of digestive disease epidemiology and outcomes an early boost. He has maintained an extraordinarily productive career over the past 30 years that has focused on research investigating the etiology and prevention of colorectal cancer; training and mentoring a generation of gastrointestinal epidemiologists and academic gastroenterologists; directing the UNC’s multidisciplinary NIDDK-funded Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease; developing a national clinical trials data management resource; and leading an outstanding division of gastroenterology and hepatology.
 
Dr. Sandler has worked selflessly for AGA in many capacities. In May 2015, he was appointed to the AGA Governing Board as AGA Research Foundation chair-elect and now serves as chair. This will be Dr. Sandler’s third term on the board; notably, he served as president of AGA from 2008 to 2009. Before his most recent appointment to the governing board, Dr. Sandler served as chair of the AGA Publications Committee and previously served on the Nominating Committee (twice, once as chair), Audit Committee, Executive Committee, Outcomes Research Award Review Panel, Futures Committee, Research Policy Committee, Burden of Disease Task Force, Public Policy Committee and GI Oncology Task Force. Dr. Sandler has also served as an associate editor of Gastroenterology.
Eric J. Vargas, MD
Mayo Clinic
Eric J. Vargas, MD, is a Clinician Investigator Program trainee at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He is currently in his second year of his fellowship in gastroenterology and hepatology. He is dual board certified in internal medicine and obesity medicine and is a master’s degree candidate in the clinical and translational sciences (clinical trials) track at the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. He is a former Doris Duke/NIH Clinical Research Scholar from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine, where he worked with Dr. David Binion’s inflammatory bowel disease research group and learned how to use STATA. 
 
He graduated from medical school with honors from the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) Milton S. Hershey College of Medicine Program after finishing his bachelor's degree in biochemistry and molecular biology at PSU. He is originally from Ponce, Puerto Rico, where he graduated as the salutatorian from Caribbean School. Dr. Vargas has authored more than 15 original publications, one book chapter, and more than 20 conference abstracts. His clinical and research interests include endoscopic bariatric therapies, outcomes research and identifying clinical predictive and prognostic biomarkers. 
 
He recently obtained his 45-foot sailing license at Lake Superior and enjoys being outdoors, hiking and camping in his spare time. His significant other, Caitlin, is a critical care pharmacist, and they enjoy engaging in regular banter about sedation and anticoagulation protocols. He is a Philadelphia Eagles and PSU Nittany Lions fan living in the cold Midwest. He is committed to a career in academic gastroenterology.
Anil Rustgi, MD, AGAF
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

Anil Rustgi, MD, AGAF, received his medical degree from Duke University Medical School. He completed his medical internship and residency at Beth Israel Hospital of Harvard University and also served as chief medical resident. He then completed his gastroenterology fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital of Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Rustgi has been chief of gastroenterology at the University of Pennsylvania since 1998. He is a recognized expert in gastrointestinal cancers and uses model systems to improve the diagnosis and therapy of these cancers. As T. Grier Miller Professor of Medicine and Genetics, he is also director of the Tumor Biology Program within the Pennsylvania Cancer Center, director of the NIH/NIDDK Penn Digestive Diseases Research Center, directs two NIH T32 training grants and has been recognized by the American Cancer Society (ACS) as an ACS Professor.

Dr. Rustgi served as president of AGA from 2013 to 2014. He is the former editor-in-chief of Gastroenterology and was recently awarded the AGA Julius Friedenwald Medal in 2017. He currently serves as member of the Leadership Cabinet, Government Affairs Committee and Research Policy Committee.

Gary D. Wu, MD
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine GI Division

Gary D. Wu, MD, studied chemistry at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, before earning his medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago. Dr. Wu completed his internship and residency at the University of Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis and his gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Dr. Wu is the Ferdinand G. Weisbrod professor in gastroenterology at the Perlman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the associate chief for research in the division of gastroenterology, co-director of the Penn CHOP Microbiome Program and the associate director of the Center for Molecular Studies in Digestive and Liver Disease. He is an elected member of both the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians. The research programs in Dr. Wu’s laboratory focus on the mutualistic interactions between the gut microbiota and the host, with a particular focus on metabolism. He received the 2017 AGA-Dannon Gut Microbiome in Health Award for his project “Equol Production as a Model for the Impact of Diet on the Metabolome of the Gut Microbiota in Humans.”

An active member of AGA for the past 25 years, Dr. Wu served as an AGA Institute Council member from 2007 to 2012 and recently as the chair of the scientific advisory board for the AGA Center for Gut Microbiome Research and Education. He has also been a member of various committees and is on the subcommittee for AGA-Chinese Society of Gastroenterology Strategic Initiative. In May 2017, Dr. Wu joined the governing board as the basic research councilor.