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IFFGD Announces 2019 Research Recognition Awards Recipients

For Immediate Release

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MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (May 16, 2019) — Recognizing the critical role of research in advancing the understanding and care of chronic gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses in adults and children, the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) announced the recipients of its 2019 Research Recognition Awards. The awards will be presented during Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2019, to be held May 18-21 in San Diego, CA.

First established in 2003, the awards are intended to recognize and support the research contributions of young investigators in the field of digestive health. Since then, IFFGD has presented awards to 42 investigators from around the world with a record of research interest and accomplishment in neurogastroenterology, and especially, in the basic mechanisms and clinical aspects of functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders.

The award recipients were selected by a committee of leaders in the medical and scientific community. The winners of the 2019 IFFGD Research Recognition Awards are:

Arpana Gupta, PhD. G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California — Los Angeles.
David Levinthal, MD, PhD. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Ilan Koppen, MD, PhD. University of Amsterdam Academic Medical Center.

“A commitment to supporting and encouraging research that will lead to improved outcomes for patients with functional GI and motility disorders and their families is central to our mission at IFFGD,” said Ceciel T. Rooker, President of IFFGD. “We are pleased to recognize the steps these investigators have taken towards that goal and to thank them for their efforts on behalf of the patient community.”

About the Award Recipients

Arpana Gupta, PhD.

Dr. Gupta is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Digestive Diseases at the UCLA Department of Medicine and serves as Director of the Neuroimaging Core at the UCLA G. Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience. She is interested in interactions between environmental and biological factors in contributing to stress-based diseases and is currently working towards an obesity model that addresses mechanisms associated with the bidirectional interactions of the brain with those in the periphery (immune cells, gut microbiota-related metabolites). 

David Levinethal, MD, PhD.

Dr. Levinthal serves as Assistant Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Medicine and Director of the Neurogastroenterology and Motility Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He is currently pursuing translational and clinical research in patients with cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) and is involved in research into determinants of CVS disease severity and the development of novel therapeutic interventions in this population. 

Ilan Koppen, MD, PhD.

Dr. Koppen is a resident physician in the Department of Pediatrics at Spaarne Gasthuis in Amsterdam and is involved in active research with the Amsterdam University Medical Center and Emma Children’s Hospital. Currently, he is working on a collaborative research initiative to combine and compare data on colonic dysmotility in children in order to explore parameters that may predict treatment outcome after surgery or sacral nerve stimulation as well as comparing these treatments with other, noninvasive neurostimulation options. 



The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) is a nonprofit education and research organization dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. Founded in 1991, IFFGD helps improve care by enhancing awareness, improving education, and supporting and encouraging research into treatments and cures for chronic GI conditions. Learn more about IFFGD at

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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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