News Release

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

NIH Appoints Members to the National Commission on Digestive Diseases

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., today announced the names of the newly appointed members of the National Commission on Digestive Diseases, which is charged with conducting an overview of research in digestive diseases and developing a strategic plan for the next ten years of NIH digestive diseases research.

“The new members of the National Commission on Digestive Diseases bring a wealth of expertise in both basic and clinical digestive diseases research that will not only help NIH review the current state of its research, but ultimately lay the groundwork for research for the next decade and beyond. I am very pleased to welcome them to the Commission,” said Dr. Zerhouni.

The Commission is composed of 16 members who are appointed for the duration of the Commission by the Director of the NIH. The members have broad expertise as members of academic or medical research and practice communities involved in digestive diseases research, patient-oriented organizations or have close personal or family experience with digestive diseases.

“As we embark upon this planning process for digestive diseases, the cross-section of scientific and professional knowledge represented by the new members will play a crucial role in initiating, evaluating, and completing this process,” said Stephen P. James, M.D., Chair of the Commission and Director of the Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition (DDN) at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), one of the institutes of the NIH.

The appointed members are:

  • Bruce R. Bacon, M.D., Director, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Barbara L. Bass, M.D., Carolyn and John Bookout Chair, Department of Surgery, The Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas
  • Richard S. Blumberg, M.D., Chief, Gastroenterology Division, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  • John M. Carethers, M.D., Gastroenterology Section Chief, Veterans Administration San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego, California
  • Maurice A. Cerulli, M.D., Chief, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, New York Methodist Hospital, Brooklyn, New York
  • Eugene B. Chang, M.D., Martin Boyer Professor of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago , Illinois
  • Mitchell B. Cohen, M.D., Director, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Margaret M. Heitkemper, R.N., Ph.D., Chair, Department of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
  • Jane M. Holt, Co-President, National Pancreas Foundation, Boston, Massachusetts
  • David A. Lieberman, M.D., Professor and Chief, Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, Oregon
  • Nancy J. Norton, B.S., Founder and President, International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Pankaj J. Pasricha, M.D., Chief, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas
  • Daniel K. Podolsky, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Chief, Gastrointestinal Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Kenton M. Sanders, Ph.D., Professor and Chairman, Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno, Nevada
  • Robert S. Sandler, MPH, M.D., Professor, Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition, Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Joanne A.P. Wilson, M.D., Professor, Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina

In addition to the 16 appointed members, the Commission includes several nonvoting ex officio members from the NIH and other federal government agencies involved in digestive diseases research. For more information on the roster of appointed and ex officio members and the Commission charter, visit the Commission web site at:

The Commission will hold its first meeting on June 12, 2006. Subsequent meetings will be held as needed and called by the Chair. A government official will attend all meetings, and all meetings are open to the public except as decided by the Director, NIH.

“From hepatitis to inflammatory bowel disease, basic and clinical research have helped to improve how we diagnose and treat patients with digestive diseases. Now, through the work of the Commission, we are posed to further advance digestive diseases research well into the 21st century,” said Griffin Rodgers, M.D., Acting Director, NIDDK.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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