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Milwaukee, WI (April 6, 2003) - The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) presented its first research awards to seven leading investigators in the field of gastroenterology at its 5th International Symposium, held April 4-7 at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee.

IFFGD Awards Selection Committee

  • Douglas Drossman, MD, Chair
  • Michael Camilleri, MD
  • Carlo DiLorenzo, MD
  • Emeran Mayer, MD
  • Mary Perdue, PhD
  • Nicholas Talley, MD
  • Peter Whorwell, MD

The IFFGD research awards were given to active investigators who have a record of research interest in basic mechanisms or clinical aspects of functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders. The awards are intended to encourage the participation of clinicians and scientists in multidisciplinary efforts aimed at advancing the understanding of gastrointestinal disorders in adults and in children.

"The research award program offers support for basic and clinical studies that are greatly needed. In the process, we are helping to legitimize to other funding agencies the need to provide more research dollars to find answers, treatments and even cures, said Douglas Drossman, M.D., co-director, University of North Carolina Center for Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders, and chair of the IFFGD Research Selection Committee.

IFFGD's research awards are designed to help young investigators get started in their research and also to acknowledge more senior investigators from around the world for their contributions to the knowledge of gastrointestinal disorders. The future goal is to raise enough funds to support new research awards that will eventually lead to major governmental supported research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"IFFGD has established a track record for innovation, and we continue our commitment to providing education and awareness," said Nancy Norton, founder and president of IFFGD. "Now, by funding research, the organization embarks on another new path. This journey will help to shape science and scientific advancement, and improve patient quality of life."

IFFGD received applications for awards in seven categories, and the following winners were chosen:

Senior Investigator, Clinical Science

Award Amount: $7,500
William E. Whitehead, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Dr. Whitehead's research interests include the physiological and psychological mechanisms for symptoms of functional GI disorders; development and validation of diagnostic criteria for functional GI disorders; pathophysiology of anorectal disorders; and biofeedback treatment of fecal incontinence and constipation.

Senior Investigator, Basic Science

Award Amount: $7,500
Jyoti N. Sengupta, Ph.D., Medical College of Wisconsin.
Dr. Sengupta's current research interests include investigating the pathophysiology of functional bowel disorders. He is studying sensory neurons involved in GI pain, while exploring new pharmacologic agents.

Pediatric Investigator, Clinical Science

Award Amount: $7,500
Caroline Elder Danda, Ph.D., University of Kansas.
Dr. Danda's current research projects include examining the physiological and psychosocial factors associated with functional dyspepsia and examining the effectiveness of several treatment protocols for children with functional dyspepsia; examining the effectiveness of noninvasive, educational treatment on the resolution of functional fecal retention; determining psychosocial and family factors related to initial treatment failures in functional fecal retention; and assessing whether fear increases anal sphincter pressures.

Pediatric Investigator, Basic Science

Award Amount: $7,500
Terry Buchmiller-Crair, M.D., Cornell University.

Dr. Buchmiller-Crair performs the full spectrum of pediatric surgery with a particular interest in minimal access surgery, management of the short bowel syndrome, and fetal surgical diagnoses and prenatal counseling. Her recent basic science and clinical work reflect her continuing interest in fetal gastrointestinal development and the mechanisms of GI absorption and motility during the last trimester of gestation.

International (Developing Nation) Investigator Clinical or Basic Science

Award Amount: $5,000
Dan L. Dumitrascu, M.D., Ph.D., University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Romania.

Dr. Dumitrascu's main interests are in functional and motility GI disorders, epidemiology, and clinical trials. He has produced over 120 papers and authored or contributed to 15 books. He authored the first Romanian book on GI manometry and was the first East European to join the Functional Brain Gut Research Group. He is also the associate editor of the Romanian Journal of Gastroenterology and a member of the editorial committees of several journals in Romania and France.

Junior Investigator, Clinical Science

Award Amount: $5,000
Adil E. Bharucha, M.D., Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Bharucha's most recent research has focused on understanding epidemiology and mechanisms of fecal incontinence and obstructed defecation, specifically characterizing the multiple recto-ano mechanisms maintaining continence.

Junior Investigator, Basic Science

Award Amount: $5,000
Klaus Bielefeldt, M.D., Ph.D., University of Iowa.

Dr. Bielefeldt's clinical interests are with functional diseases of the esophagus. Scientifically, he has used his training in cellular neurophysiology to explore mechanisms that change sensation with a focus on certain nerves that innervate the stomach and may contribute to the development of hypersensitivity, or pain and discomfort.

The awards were presented at a ceremony held during the 5th International Symposium on Functional GI Disorders in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Nancy Norton, President, IFFGD; Allen Spiegel, MD, Director, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; and Douglas Drossman, MD, Chair, Awards Selection Committee commented and made the presentations.

IFFGD is a nonprofit education and research organization whose mission it is to inform, assist and support those affected by gastrointestinal disorders. With an international group of experts from multiple disciplines who serve on the organization's medical advisory board, the IFFGD is a resource for anyone seeking current information about gastrointestinal disorders for both adults and children.

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