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Quarterly Digest

Sometimes the gods shine on us and help us break the odds! On Tuesday, January 16, we planned to hold the first-ever all-member meeting for the Underwood Center for Digestive Disorders, but the omens were not good — one of the coldest forecasts ever, ice on the roads predicted and many businesses closed or were closing early. However, as we monitored the weather, we sensed some positive movement and made what we hoped was not a fateful decision to go ahead as planned. Anticipating traffic at a crawl, I left the hospital early and before I knew it, I was at our venue, Caracol, 90 minutes early! Even though traffic was light; it was still arctic by Houston standards, and I still feared the worst — a handful of attendees in a large space. My worries soon evaporated as members arrived in droves and the tables filled up. The feared trickle had turned into a full house! What followed were interactive discussions on topics that emerged from our various preparatory meetings over the past year — community outreach, patient experience/access, research, a system-wide motility program, quality and education. Brief summaries from each discussion group made it abundantly clear that a robust and thorough discussion had taken place and great ideas had emerged. We are collating these summaries and developing further goals based on them. A big “thank you” to the Underwood team, led by Sharon Chui, who meticulously prepared us all for this meeting and made it such a success. And, to all of you —gastroenterologists, surgeons, employed and private physicians and administrators who defied the weather and demonstrated your support for the Underwood Center. As one member stated: “This has really gotten some momentum.” Now, we need to build on this momentum and deliver the programs that will take the Center to the next level. In this edition of the newsletter, you will learn of our recent and upcoming education events. We recently held the annual Lyn F. and Dr Carl Schmulen IBD lecture on Feb. 1 featuring Dr. Ashwin Anathakrishnan the internationally renowned clinician-researcher from Harvard University. Also, the annual Underwood Symposium on February 23 will feature guest speakers, Dr. Madhu Grover from the Mayo Clinic and Dr. Netu Sarkaria from UT Southwestern, and include a new event feature, the special lunchtime session on two very “hot” topics — AI in Gastroenterology and Quality Metrics in Endoscopy. So, register today and join us
Eamonn M.M. Quigley, MD David M. Underwood Chair of Medicine in Digestive Disorders Co-Director, Lynda K. and David M. Underwood Center for Digestive Disorders Chief, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Houston Methodist Hospital Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine Adjunct Professor of Medicine, Texas A&M Health Sciences Center College of Medicine
A. Osama Gaber, MD, FACS, FAST John F., Jr. and Carolyn Bookout Presidential Distinguished Chair in Surgery, Department of Surgery Chair, Department of Surgery Professor of Surgery, Academic Institute Full Member, Research Institute Program Director, Transplant Surgery Fellowship, Department of Surgery Houston Methodist Weill Cornell Medical College
All-Members Meeting Click on each thumbnail to enlarge the photo.
Awards & Recognitions
Dr. Osama Gaber received the AAKP (American Association of Kidney Patients) Medal of Excellence which recognizes health professionals who have made contributions over the course of their career for the advancement of patient care, enhanced patient quality of life and encouraged patient engagement.
Integrating Intestinal Ultrasound into an Inflammatory Bowel Disease Practice: How to Get Started” was selected by the editors and associate editors of the Crohn’s & Colitis 360 Journal as one of the best articles of 2023!
Dr. Kerri Glassner completed her bowel ultrasound training in Milan, Italy through IBUS (International Bowel Ultrasound Group) funded by the Constance M. and Byron F. Dyer Fellowship Award.
Dr. Christopher Fan has been accepted into the Academic Skills Workshop, a joint initiative hosted by the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). This mentorship-based program covers topics ranging from tracks and pathways in academic medicine, writing and presentation skills, applying for and securing grants and funding, finance basics and navigating bias in the workplace.
Dr. Sudha Kodali was appointed as one of the chairs of 2024 ILTS consensus conference in Valenica, Spain. The Consensus Conference will be a shared effort between the International Liver Cancer Association and the International Liver Transplantation Society, both leading the management and guidelines in Transplant Oncology for primary liver cancer.
Underwood Members Drs. Maen Abdelrahim, Diego Marines, and Hani Zamil were selected for the 2024 Houston Methodist Physician Leadership Development Program, a collaboration with the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University. For six months, the cohort of physician leaders will attend monthly lectures taught by HM executives and SMEs from Rice University and work in teams as “management consultants” to solve real challenges identified by executive sponsors.
Dr. Diego Marines presented his poster on “Patient selection for a successful same-day discharge colectomy program” at the European Colorectal Congress in Switzerland.
Clinical stories
Do Weight Loss Medications Work?
Dr. Garth Davis was recently interviewed on the Houston Methodist hosted On Health Podcast episode, “Do Weight Loss Medications Work? Are They Safe? Who Are They For?”, which explores the promising landscape of new weight-loss medications, GLP-1 agonists, as potential game-changers in the face of America’s obesity crisis. Unlike previous options, these medications can lead to substantial weight loss. Dr. Davis also delves into potential side effects, distinguishing between weight-loss medications and supplements, and comparing them to bariatric surgery.
The Role of IUS in Clinical Practice
In a recent publication, Bincy P Abraham, MD, Fondren Distinguished Professor in Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Department of Medicine, ushers in a new era for clinical IBD practice in the U.S. Through practical guidance on training requirements, equipment and protocols, Dr. Abraham provides IBD clinicians the information they need to incorporate intestinal ultrasound (IUS) into their practice as a safe, noninvasive alternative for IBD diagnostics and monitoring.
2024 Hepatology Clinical Program Updates
Here are five updates about the hepatology service provided by the Houston Methodist Underwood Center and the Conover Center at Houston Methodist Hospital (Texas Medical Center).
  • 249 liver transplants in 2023— the most in the Center’s history—making it the No. 1 liver program in the region and No. 2 in the nation based on volume.
  • Living Donor Liver Transplants are performed with robotic surgery.
  • We are excited to welcome the 2024 International Congress of International Liver Transplantation Society to Houston, May 1-4. Click here to see videos from ILTS President R. Mark Ghobrial, MD, and ILTS local chairs Constance Mobley, MD, and David Victor, MD, on what to expect at ILTS 2024.
  • We have opened and are enrolling interventional studies for NASH and other liver disorders. View the complete list of clinical trials by our faculty.
  • David Victor, MD, recently collaborated with Georgea Pappas, Culinary Research & Development Manager at Pappas Restaurants, to create a custom menu at Pappasito’s for a community outreach event with the Houston Methodist Hospital Foundation that showcased the important work performed in the Metabolic Liver Program to help patients change their diets to live healthier lives. Much of the work in this area is related to patient education in nutrition. This is a unique intersection of the Conover Liver Center and Underwood Center’s Food and Health Alliance.
Research stories
Drug Shows Promise for Reduced Fatty Liver Disease
The weight-loss drug HU6, a controlled metabolic accelerator, shows promise for treating patients with obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to a study published in Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology where Mazen Noureddin, MD, MHSc, served as the first author.
Liver Retransplantation Study Shows Benefit for All Recipients
Patients who need a redo liver transplant can expect to survive if they undergo a single transplant, an Underwood Center determined in a recent study.
Meta-Analysis Provides Roadmap for More Studies of Probiotics to Treat IBS
A recently published meta-analysis of 82 trials, containing data from more than 10,000 patients (about the seating capacity of Cameron basketball stadium at Duke University), shows probiotics use is beneficial for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). “Studies continue to evolve, and more head-to-head research of specific probiotics is needed in the future,” said Eamonn Quigley, MD.
View our comprehensive list of clinical trials for IBD, GERD, liver and more. We invite current Underwood Center members to submit their clinical studies to spotlight in upcoming newsletters.
Featured Publications
Caring for the Liver: Updates on Global Prevalence, Cutting-Edge Diagnosis, and State-of-the-Art Management for Researchers and Clinicians, 2023 and Beyond.
Castera, L, Noureddin, M, Wei, L & Kahi, C 2023
Pancreatic Tumorigenesis: Precursors, Genetic Risk Factors and Screening.
Esmail, A, Badheeb, M & Abdelrahim, M 2023
Outcomes of immunotherapy-related hepatotoxicity from a multi-disciplinary toxicity team.
Fan, C, Kim, A, Li, S, Naidoo, J, Cappelli, LC, Brahmer, JR, Anders, RA & Kim, AK 2023
Clinical Trial Landscape in NASH, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, vol. 21, no. 8, pp. 2001-2014
Harrison, SA, Loomba, R, Dubourg, J, Ratziu, V & Noureddin, M 2023
Impact of the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association James W. Brooks Scholarship.
Kim, MP, Mavroudis, C, Jacobs, JP & Yang, SC 2023
Josephine Hughes-Sterling Lectureship in Neurogastroenterology
Dr. Michael Camilleri, Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology & Physiology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, was the guest speaker for the inaugural Josephine Hughes-Sterling Lectureship in Neurogastroenterology held in November. His talk, “GASTROPARESIS: Back to Basics and Much-needed Clarity,” was a comprehensive review on the management of gastroparesis, covering topics such as optimal gastric emptying measurement, a review of the 2002 ACG Guidelines, and an examination of treatment modalities View the recorded lecture.
11th Annual Lyn F. And Dr. Carl Schmulen Lectureship in Inflammatory Bowel Disease
On Feb 1, Dr. Ashwin Ananthakrishnan, MD, MPH, from Mass General Brigham Crohn's & Colitis Center, was our guest faculty for the 11th Annual Lyn F. And Dr. Carl Schmulen Lectureship in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. His talk, “The Environment and IBD: What We Know and Where We Need to Go.” More than 65 attendees attended the event to learn the impact of environmental factors on incidences of IBD, distinguish how environment affects risk and relapse in those with established disease, and examine the feasibility of disease prevention and biomarker based environmental exposure monitoring. Click here for the recording.
ACG 2023
In October 2023, the Underwood Center’s GI division traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia, to present 24 abstracts and poster presentations at American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) Annual Scientific Meeting and Postgraduate Course. Some of Houston Methodist's contributions include presentations on topics like vibrating capsule efficacy by Dr. Eamonn Quigley, a hands-on workshop on capsule endoscopy led by Dr. Bincy Abraham, and a hands-on course for hemorrhoid management by Dr. Neha Mathur. Dr. Victor Ankoma-Sey won an ACG Presidential Poster Award for his study “Utility of Novel Fibroscan-Based Scores in the Diagnosis of Advanced Fibrosis in Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.” Dr. Eammon Quigley also received the Samuel S. Weiss Award,—the College’s highest honor presented periodically to a Fellow of the College in recognition of outstanding career service to ACG.
AASLD The Liver Meeting 2023
The Underwood Center and The Conover Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation invited hepatologists and surgeons to present at the 2023 AASLD The Liver Meeting (TLM). Dr. R. Mark Ghobrial hosted the AASLD/ILTS Transplant Course at TLM, with moderators Dr. Constance Mobley and Dr. Mazen Noureddin. Dr. Noureddin presented and moderated eight sessions related to MASLD and population health, including a Late-Breaking Oral Abstract on TERN-501. Dr. Yee-Lee Cheah presented at the Surgery & Liver Transplantation Workshop, highlighting her expertise in robotic-assisted surgery. Dr. Victor Ankoma-Sey presented on the Screening and Management of MASH in Africa. Dr. David Victor participated in a Transplant Surgery Plenary session. The Conover Center also hosted a reception for friends and colleagues at TLM, hosted by Business Development Specialist, Riki Graves.
Houston Methodist Baytown (HMB)
Dr. Christina Warner contributed to an article published in November 2023, in the MedCentral blog about Colorectal Cancer Disparities in Black Americans. She provided great statistics for this very informative piece expanding on the importance of this topic.
Dr. Valentine Millien was featured in a recent On Health blog post, “How Long Does a Colonoscopy Take? (& 5 More Questions About the Procedure, Answered).”
Houston Methodist Sugar Land (HMSL)
HMSL is excited to announce the grand opening of the state-of-the-art Houston Methodist Digestive Health Center at Sugar Land. Established in December 2023 and located on the first floor of its new medical office building, the Center boasts four outpatient suites and 16 pre/post-op rooms, to ensure comprehensive care for patients. With a focus on comfort and convenience, the Center also features a welcoming waiting room and garage parking nearby. This facility represents the hospital’s commitment to providing unparalleled digestive health services in a modern and patient-friendly environment.
Houston Methodist West (HMW)
HMW opened its fifth room in the Digestive Health Center with fixed imaging from Siemens, which will increase capacity and allow the hospital to expand advanced endoscopy services. In 2024, the Center plans to increase collaboration with the Surgery program on pancreatic and biliary diseases.
Houston Methodist Willowbrook (HMWB)
Recently, HWMB implemented BlockIt, a tool facilitating direct scheduling with private aligned providers. Dr. Arturo Bravo is the first physician participating in this initiative to streamline the scheduling process for enhanced efficiency.
9th Annual Underwood Symposium
February 23 | 8a.m. – 5p.m. HMRI Auditorium & Virtual
Course Directors: Edward Chan, MD and Kerri Glassner, DO Featuring Guest Speakers:
Madhusudan Grover, MBBS, Mayo Clinic Consultant, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Inderpal (Netu) Sarkaria, MD, MBA, FACS, UT Southwestern Medical Center Professor and Division Chief of Thoracic Surgery
Lunch and Learn Sponsored by Medtronic
Artificial Intelligence: What it is and What it isn't, Austin Chiang, MD Chief Medical Officer, Medtronic
GIQuIC: Improving Quality in Endoscopy, Karen Woods, MD Houston Methodist
Underwood Hands-on Lab
April 13 | 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. HMRI MITIESM
This hands-on training program for residents and fellows will provide experience with advanced therapeutics endoscopic techniques and technology in the areas of mucosal ablation and resection, tissue closure, intraluminal stenting, gastroesophageal reflux treatments, and ERCP.
Register here
SAGES 2024
April 17-20 | Cleveland, OH
This year’s meeting will include a focus on expert “how-I-do it” video-driven education, instruction on the incorporation of technology into practice, and the introduction of new and emerging innovation. We are excited to dive into the future of Surgical Specialties and discuss best practices for patient optimization. We are collaborating with multiple surgical societies to bring the best and brightest to you in a packed week of education and networking.
Register here
2024 International Congress of ILTS
May 1-4 | Houston, TX
Attending ILTS 2024 will allow you to participate in more than 60 scientific sessions revolving around all aspects of liver transplantation, including special formats such as the Pre-meeting Symposium, Meet the Experts Sessions and workshops. Seize the opportunity to meet in person and discuss the latest advances in the care of liver transplantation patients and receive state-of-the-art updates in clinical and basic science.
Register here
SGNA 51st Annual Course
May 9 - 1 | Louisville, Kentucky
The Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA) is a professional organization of nurses and associates dedicated to the safe and effective practice of gastroenterology and endoscopy nursing.
Register here
Digestive Disease Week 2024
May 18-21 | Washington D.C.
One mission — not a one-size-fits-all approach. Follow your own path at Digestive Disease Week® (DDW), the world’s premier gathering of gastroenterology clinicians, researchers and industry. Registration opens in January 2024. Registration opens for AASLD, AGA, ASGE and SSAT members on 1/17. General registration opens 1/24.
Join us for DDW 2024!
Ongoing Events
GI Grand Rounds: Multidisciplinary Case Conference
Every Friday at 7a.m.
Led by: Dr. Alberto O. Barroso Presenters 02/09 Dr. Ray Chihara 02/16 Dr. Eamonn Quigley/Scott Berger 03/01 Dr. Alberto Barroso/Daniel Burkholder 03/08 Dr. Neha Mathur/Shaadi Abughazaleh 03/15 Dr. Gulchin Ergun/Nabeel Moon 03/22 Dr. Patrick Reardon Contact: Donna Ruddell ( for the Teams link.
Monthly IBD Case Conference
Upcoming Meetings:
Led by: Drs. Bincy Abraham, Kerri Glassner, Malcolm Irani and Christopher Fan February 9 March 15 April 5 Contact: Donna Ruddell ( for the Teams link.
Medical Center Motility Meeting
1st Wednesday of the month at 5-6pm
Multi-institutional conference between MD Anderson, Houston Methodist, UT Health, Baylor College of Medicine
Contact: Carol Cox ( for more information.
To be featured in the next newsletter, please submit news, events or a story to: If you have questions about membership, please contact:
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