Division Chiefs Look Back on an Unforgettable Year

Ali Tavakkoli, MD, and Richard Steven Blumberg, MDDespite the formidable challenges created by the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Brigham and Women’s Hospital General and Gastrointestinal Surgery and Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endoscopy divisions celebrated substantial achievements in 2020.

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Investigating Gastrointestinal Manifestations of COVID-19

COVID-19 cell

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Walter W. Chan, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Gastrointestinal Motility at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and colleagues in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endoscopy, have led several clinical studies investigating COVID-19 infection presentation, risk factors and outcomes on the gastrointestinal (GI) system.

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New Liquid System Sustains Drug Delivery Over Time

intestinal tissue
The synthetic lining, which has been applied to the pig intestinal tissue on the right, is designed to stick to the intestines.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new way to deliver drugs and modulate nutrition through a synthetic coating in the small intestine. A proof-of-concept study for the gastrointestinal synthetic epithelial linings (GSEL) system was conducted under grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, and results were published in Science Translational Medicine.

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Can a Daily Pill Prevent Pancreatic Cancer?

Man holding small fishtank
Sahar Nissim, MD, PhD, used zebra fish to validate the research findings.

A rare genetic mutation discovered by a researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital could hold the clues to developing new management strategies for pancreatic cancer. Sahar Nissim, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the Brigham’s Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endoscopy & Genetics Divisions, found the mutation in a single family with a strong history of pancreatic cancer and published his findings in Nature Genetics. He said the discovery may have broader implications for all patients with pancreatic cancer, regardless of whether or not they have the mutation.

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Gut Molecule Targets Diabetes After Bariatric Surgery

illustration showing changes after gastric surgery

A study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School has uncovered a molecular mechanism that may help to explain why type 2 diabetes goes into remission in patients who have undergone bariatric surgery. Published in Nature Chemical Biology in August, the study is the first to identify an anti-diabetic small molecule whose levels are increased by bariatric surgery.

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Scott A. Shikora, MD, Elected President of IFSO

Scott Alan Shikora, MD, FACS, FASMBS

Scott Alan Shikora, MD, FACS, FASMBS, director of the Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, was recently named president-elect of the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders (IFSO). Dr. Shikora’s official appointment will begin in July at the 25th IFSO World Congress in Miami. He is the first Brigham physician to serve as President of IFSO.

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Improving Diagnosis and Treatment of Appendiceal Cancers

close up of cells

Appendiceal cancers are rare, with an estimated 1,500 people diagnosed per year in the United States. The rarity of these cancers and their diverse manifestations can make accurate diagnosis challenging.

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Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) in Obese Patients

illustration of intestines

Over the past decade, Brigham and Women’s Hospital has led the way in investigating fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT). The FMT Program at the Brigham was the first to conduct clinical trials on FMT for the treatment of primary sclerosing cholangitis and, most recently, obesity.

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Ingestible Self-Orienting Device Offers Hope for Oral Insulin Delivery

Photo: Felice Frankel

Can insulin be given to patients without injection through the skin? This is the problem that Brigham and Women’s gastroenterologist, C. Giovanni Traverso, MD, PhD, is trying to solve. Daily injections require training and can be painful for patients living with diabetes. As a result, physicians may hesitate to prescribe insulin for years—despite its immense therapeutic value—selecting alternatives that may not work as well but which can be taken orally instead.
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