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Guest Speakers




Nitin K. Ahuja, MD, MS

Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Session TWO: Advocating for yourself in healthcare: How to prepare for seeing your doctor

Nitin K. Ahuja, MD, MS is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine and Co-Director of the Program in Neurogastroenterology and Motility in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of Pennsylvania. His clinical interests are in motility disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, and his research interests are in the history, literature, and culture of medicine. He went to medical school at the University of Michigan, completed his residency at the University of Virginia, and completed his fellowship at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He has a special interest in a vast array of functional GI and motility disorders including; gastroparesis, esophageal disorders, and bowel disorders.



Brittany Aliano

Patient Advisory Committee, IFFGD and Vice President, Ogilvy Health

Session ONE: Update on research and drug development in Federal Agencies: Marketing of a Pharmaceutical Drug: A peek inside a creative advertising agency

Brittany Aliano is a patient who has dealt with gastrointestinal disorders including Abdominal Phrenic Dyssyneria for almost 9 years. She is on the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) Patient Advisory Committee and is also a patient advocate and a healthcare policy lobbyist. Brittany is passionate and committed to improving the lives and healthcare of others with similar conditions. Her passion stems from her difficult journey in obtaining a diagnosis and treatment. She became involved with the IFFGD in 2017.

Brittany received her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Studies and Human Science from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. She is a former member, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and rescue diver of the Cold Spring Harbor Volunteer Fire Department. Brittany worked in hospitals and conducted clinical research in post-mastectomy breast reconstruction.

Professionally, Brittany is a Vice President, Account Group Supervisor at Ogilvy Health, a pharmaceutical and healthcare advertising agency, in New York City.



Claire Brandon, MD

Whole Body Psychiatry and GI Psychiatry

Session THREE: Creating a healthcare team: Making Mental Health part of your healthcare team

Claire Brandon, MD is CEO/Founder of Whole Body Psychiatry and GI Psychiatry. Dr. Brandon is dual board certified psychiatrist fellow of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in Adult Psychiatry and Consultation Liaison Psychiatry (medically ill psychiatry). She completed her residency at The Mount Sinai Hospital where she served as Chief Resident. She went on to complete her fellowship in consultation liaison psychiatry sub-specializing in gastrointestinal psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Dr. Brandon also completed a fellowship in Public Psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine and is passionate about changing the availability of mental health care services in America.

Dr. Brandon is part of the Rome Foundation and the Crohn’s and Colitis foundation IBD-Reach committee. She is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and a member of the Academy of Consultation Liaison Psychiatry and has been a presenter at the Academy’s annual national conference in her work on GI psychiatric care. Dr. Brandon teaches lectures on GI psychiatry at New York University and The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. She has a private practice in Manhattan.



Darren Brenner, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine and Surgery, Northwestern University

Session TWO: Advocating for yourself in healthcare: The best ways to describe pain so your healthcare practitioner understands

Dr. Brenner is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Surgery in the Division of Gastroenterology at Northwestern University and serves as Director of the Neurogastromotility and Functional Bowel Programs, Co-Director of the Integrated Bowel Dysfunction program, and Director of the Motts Tonelli GI Physiology Laboratory. He is also an active Irene D. Pritzker Research Scholar. Dr. Brenner focuses his clinical and research pursuits on a wide range of motility topics including IBS, constipation, opioid related constipation, fecal incontinence, gastroparesis, and scleroderma.

He has published more than 100 articles, abstracts, and online materials on these subjects, and has lectured both nationally and internationally in these areas. He acts as a reviewer and editor for multiple GI peer-reviewed journals and is a current associate editor of the American Journal of Gastroenterology. He was a charter board member of the American Gastroenterological Association Academy of GI and Liver Educators, serves on multiple ACG committees and is a fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology and American Gastroenterological Association. Dr. Brenner has been named to the Helio 200 top innovators in gastroenterology and hepatology and Best Doctors in America lists.



William D. Chey, MD, AGAF, FACG, FACP, RFF

Nostrant Collegiate Professor, Michigan Medicine

Session FOUR: Going beyond traditional medicine in GI Illness: Supplements for IBS: What is the Evidence? 

Dr. William Chey received a medical degree and training in internal medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. He completed a fellowship in gastroenterology and has remained as faculty at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where he is currently the Timothy T. Nostrant Collegiate Professor of Gastroenterology & Nutrition Sciences. He is also Director, GI Physiology Laboratory; Director, Digestive Disorders Nutrition & Behavioral Health Program; Director, Michigan Food for Life Kitchen;
and Medical Director, Michigan Bowel Control Program, Division of Gastroenterology, Michigan Medicine

His research interests focus on the diagnosis & treatment of functional bowel disorders and H. pylori infection. He has mentored more than 50 students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty, many of which are leaders in Gastroenterology. He is a medical innovator and holds several patents. Dr. Chey is former co-Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Gastroenterology and has authored more than 350 manuscripts, reviews, chapters & books including more than 10 national and international clinical practice guidelines.

Dr. Chey is a board member of the American College of Gastroenterology, Rome Foundation, American Neurogastroenterology & Motility Society, International Foundation of GI Disorders, and GI on Demand. He has been elected to “Best Doctors” since 2001 and received the Dean’s Outstanding Clinician Award and Dean’s Award for Innovation and Commercialization at the University of Michigan and the Distinguished Clinician Award from the American Gastroenterological Association.



Lauren Cornell, MS, RD

Registered Dietitian, Lauren Cornell Nutrition, Inc.

Session THREE: Creating a healthcare team: Making your dietitian a part of your healthcare team

Lauren Cornell, MS, RD is a registered dietitian and the founder & CEO of Lauren Cornell Nutrition, Inc., a clinically-based private practice in Los Angeles, California serving both pediatric and adult patients. Lauren specializes in sports & performance nutrition as well as gastrointestinal diseases & disorders such as IBD, IBS, Celiac disease, SIBO, intestinal resection, pancreatitis, eosinophilic esophagitis, enteral nutrition support, and functional GI conditions. Lauren also treats patients as the GI dietitian for the Cedars Sinai Medical Group’s Gastrointestinal Department.

Lauren holds a Master of Science in Nutritional Science from Cal State University-Los Angeles and proudly completed her clinical training within the Greater Los Angeles Veterans’ Affairs Healthcare System as well as Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Lauren sits on the Chapter Medical Advisory Committee of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s Greater Los Angeles chapter, serves as a member of the Monash University Low FODMAP Diet U.S. Advisory Board and also leads the IBD workgroup of the Academy’s dietetic practice group, Dietitians in Gluten & Gastrointestinal Disorders (DIGID).



Andrea Furia-Helms, MPH

Director, Patient Affairs Staff, FDA

Session ONE: Update on research and drug development in Federal Agencies: FDA Patient Affairs Staff: Patients First! How FDA is Making Patients a Priority

Andrea Furia-Helms is the Director of the Patient Affairs Staff in the Office of Clinical Policy and Programs, Office of the Commissioner. In her role, she collaborates with patient communities, the FDA medical product Centers and other offices to incorporate patient and caregiver perspectives in cross-cutting regulatory meetings. Ms. Furia-Helms spent over ten years in the FDA’s Office of Health and Constituent Affairs where she directed the FDA Patient Representative Program and coordinated patient engagement activities for the agency.

Prior to FDA, Ms. Furia-Helms was Director of the Back to Sleep (now Safe to Sleep) campaign, a public-private partnership to educate communities on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), at the National Institutes of Health. She developed SIDS outreach initiatives for African American, American Indian and Latino communities.

Ms. Furia-Helms has a B.A. in psychology from Framingham State University, a B.S. degree in community health education from University of Maryland, and a Master of Public Health degree from The George Washington University.


lemboAnthony J. Lembo, MD

Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Session FOUR: Going beyond traditional medicine in GI Illness: Introduction to complementary alternative medicine (CAM) in gastrointestinal illness

Session FOUR: Going beyond traditional medicine in GI Illness: Introduction to acupuncture in gastrointestinal illness

Session FOUR: Going beyond traditional medicine in GI Illness: Introduction to behavior therapy in gastrointestinal illness

Anthony J. Lembo, MD, is a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He also serves as the Director of the GI Motility Laboratory at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) Division of Gastroenterology in Boston, MA. Dr. Lembo earned his undergraduate degree in mathematics at Amherst College in Amherst, MA and then received his MD from Tufts Medical School in Boston, MA. He subsequently completed his internal medicine internship/residency as well as gastroenterology fellowship at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA. Dr. Lembo subsequently became a Clinical Instructor of Medicine at UCLA in 1996 and served as the co-Director of the Functional Bowel Disorder (FBD) and Gastrointestinal (GI) Motility Center at UCLA Medical Center. While at UCLA he conducted research in FBDs. In 1997 he joined the faculty at BIDMC in Boston MA. Dr. Lembo is currently the Director of the GI Motility and Functional Bowel Disorder Center at the BIDMC and Co-Director of the GI Motility Laboratory. He is an Associate Editor of Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology and Digestive Diseases and Science. His research has focused on the developed of novel treatments for FBDs including chronic idiopathic constipation. Dr. Lembo’s research interest has also explored the role of placebo and methods of enhancing the placebo response.


mercerDavid Mercer, MD, PhD, FRCSC, FACS

Professor of Surgery, University of Nebraska Medical Center

Session THREE: Creating a healthcare team: Making your surgeon a part of your healthcare team

Dr. Mercer is Professor of Surgery and Director of the Intestinal Rehabilitation Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Originally from Edmonton, Canada, he came to Nebraska to be trained as a liver and intestine transplant surgeon. He developed a love for intestinal rehabilitation during his training and it has become the main focus of his clinical career. He heads a specialized program that looks after hundreds of children and adults from across the country who are dealing with complex intestinal problems including short bowel syndrome, functional disorders of the small and large intestine and enterocutaneous fistulas. His team of dietitians, nurses, social workers and gastroenterologists provides comprehensive nutritional, medical and surgical management of patients ranging from simple TPN and tube feed management to the most difficult nutritional scenarios. He is involved in all major clinical trials in the field, and lectures on the role of intestinal rehabilitation programs in getting people off of TPN, surgical strategies in short bowel syndrome/complex intestinal problems, the role of the gut microbiome in human health and all aspects of intestinal transplantation.

He is actively involved in clinical studies in intestinal rehabilitation and transplantation, and in the role of the gut microbiome in short bowel syndrome.



Linda Anh Nguyen, MD

Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Stanford Health Care

Session TWO: Advocating for yourself in healthcare: Preparing for your appointment: Going beyond symptoms to address your goals

Dr. Linda Nguyen is a Clinical Associate Professor, Director of the Neurogastroenterology & Motility Program, and the Clinic Chief in the Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology at Stanford University. Dr. Nguyen completed medical school at UCLA School of Medicine and GI fellowship training at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, CA.

Her clinical and research interests include functional and motility disorders of the gut, with an emphasis on gastroparesis and functional dyspepsia with a special interest in visceral hypersensitivity and autonomic dysfunction. She was a member of the NIH/NIDDK Gastroparesis Clinical Research Consortium from 2007-2016. Her current research focuses on the role of neuromodulation on inflammation, physiology, and symptoms. She is also passionate about quality of life, professional development, and physician wellness.

Dr. Nguyen has served on and chaired numerous DDW Abstract Review Committees and two ad-hoc committees for the National Academy of Science (IOM). She currently serves as a member of the American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society (ANMS) Council.



Griffin P. Rodgers, MD, MACP

Director, NIDDK, NIH

Session ONE: Update on research and drug development in Federal Agencies: Overview of research in Neurogastroenterology Supported by the National Institutes of Health

Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers is the Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)–one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He was named Director on April 1, 2007 after serving as Acting Director since March 2006 and he had been the Institute’s Deputy Director since January 2001. As the Director of NIDDK, Dr. Rodgers provides scientific leadership and manages a staff of over 600 employees and a budget of ~$2.3 billion.

Dr. Rodgers received his undergraduate, graduate, and medical degrees from Brown University in Providence, R.I. He performed his residency and chief residency in internal medicine at Barnes Hospital and the John Cochran VA, respectively, at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. His fellowship training in hematology was in a joint program of the NIH with George Washington University. In addition to his medical and research training, he earned an MBA, with a focus on the business of medicine/science, from Johns Hopkins University in 2005, and a Masters in Legal Studies in 2017.

As a research investigator, Dr. Rodgers is widely recognized for his contributions to the development of the first effective — and FDA approved — therapy for sickle cell anemia. In addition, he and his collaborators have reported on a modified blood stem-cell transplant regimen that is highly effective in reversing sickle cell disease in adults and is associated with relatively low toxicity. He has been honored for his research with numerous awards including the 1998 Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award, the 2000 Arthur S. Flemming Award, the Legacy of Leadership Award in 2002, a Mastership from the American College of Physicians in 2005, the Herbert C. Nickens Award 2018 and a Fellowship in the Royal College of Physicians (London) in 2018, among others. Dr. Rodgers is a member of the American Society of Hematology, the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Academy of Medicine, among others.



Lorren Sandt

Caring Ambassadors Program

Session THREE: Creating a healthcare team: How to create your healthcare team

Ms. Lorren Sandt is a co-founder and Executive Director of the Caring Ambassadors Program. She managed the Hepatitis C Program of the Caring Ambassadors Program since its inception in 1999 until 2013. Lorren is a co-editor and a contributing author, to Hepatitis C Choices, 4th Edition, a one-of-a-kind, patient-centered book authored by a team of more than 25 multi-disciplined experts in hepatitis C. She has worked on policy changes at both the state and federal level since 2001.

In 2013, Ms. Sandt Co-founded the Liver Cancer Roundtable, a coalition of scientists, government agencies, and advocacy groups addressing the morbidity and mortality of Liver Cancer. In 2013, The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable honored Ms. Sandt with the Michael Carden Award for more than a decade of policy work on behalf of those living with viral hepatitis. In 2017, Lorren was recognized by the Economist Intelligence Unit as an “HCV Change Maker” for her significant contribution to the elimination of hepatitis C.



Gregory Sayuk MD, MPH

Associate Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine

Session TWO: Advocating for yourself in healthcare: What to ask your healthcare provider

Dr. Gregory Sayuk is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.  He is a Staff Gastroenterologist at the St. Louis VA Medical Center, where he is the Director of GI Training. Dr. Sayuk received his medical school training at the University of Texas at Houston and completed his residency for internal medicine as well as his gastroenterology fellowship at Washington University. His clinical and research interests include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), with a particular focus on brain-gut interactions and the role of non-GI factors, such as mood and sleep, in the patient’s symptom experience.



Amol Sharma MD, MS

Associate Professor of Medicine, Augusta University

Session TWO: Advocating for yourself in healthcare: Leveraging Live-Stream: Getting the Most from a GI Telehealth Appointment

Amol Sharma, M.D. grew up in nearby northeast Tennessee.  He obtained his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in biomedical engineering from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH.  Dr. Sharma graduated from the Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA.  He completed his internal medicine training at Temple University in Philadelphia and gastroenterology fellowship at Penn State in Hershey, PA. 

He then joined the gastroenterology faculty at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University. Dr. Sharma has a particular interest in Neurogastroenterology and GI Motility.  During his training, he researched motility disorders and was recognized for his work by the American Neurogastroenterology & Motility Society (ANMS) as a promising Young Investigator.  He enjoys caring for these challenging patients in a patient-centered and multidisciplinary manner with the expertise and resources available at the Digestive Health Center of Augusta University. Dr. Sharma also is the physician informaticist for the division of gastroenterology and had an opportunity to serve as a telehealth provider screening and triaging patients virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.



Jordan Shapiro MD, MS Candidate ’20

Assistant Professor of Gastroenterology, Baylor College of Medicine

Session FOUR: Going beyond traditional medicine in GI Illness: An Introduction to supplements for gastrointestinal disorders

Dr. Shapiro is board-certified in Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, and Adult Gastroenterology. He completed medical school at the Medical College of Wisconsin where he was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society, residency in Internal Medicine & Pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati/Cincinnati Children’s Hospital where he was elected in the Gold Humanism Honor Society for Excellence in Teaching, and then worked for two years prior to pursuing adult gastroenterology training.

Dr. Shapiro recently completed a 4-year T32 Clinical Research Gastroenterology Fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX and joined the faculty at Baylor College of Medicine. During his fellowship, Dr. Shapiro completed a 1-month clinical rotation at the University of Michigan that was sponsored by the American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society (ANMS). Dr. Shapiro’s clinical and research interests include multidisciplinary care of functional GI disorders, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), and transition of pediatric patients to adult care. Dr. Shapiro is set to defend his Master of Science thesis addressing quality metrics for the transition of pediatric IBD patients to adult care.



Jennifer Shifferd, PT, CLT, WCS

Clinical Instructor, Michigan Medicine

Session FOUR: Going beyond traditional medicine in GI Illness: Introduction to exercise for your gastrointestinal health

Jennifer Shifferd is a graduate of Central Michigan University with a Master’s in Physical Therapy 1997. She is a Board Certified Women’s Health Clinical Specialist and Certified Lymphedema Therapist with focus on treatment of the whole person as it relates to pelvic floor dysfunction. Jennifer Shifferd has worked at Michigan Medicine for over 23 years and helped to develop the Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Program. And assists in leading an amazing team with a wide variety of skill sets. As a Clinical Instructor, she developed a successful Women’s Health Clinical for physical therapy students and is currently Director of Women’s and Men’s Health Residency.






IFFGD gratefully aknowledges support from Takeda Pharmaceuticals for this advocacy initiative.



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IFFGD is a nonprofit education and research organization. Our mission is to inform, assist, and support people affected by gastrointestinal disorders.

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