In recognition of the importance of research in shaping the future of the treatment and care of chronic digestive disorders, IFFGD was pleased to honor four young investigators as recipients of the 2018 IFFGD Research Recognition Awards. The awards support and encourage the participation of clinicians and scientists in multidisciplinary efforts aimed at providing a better understanding of these conditions in adults and in children. Through research patients have hope for new treatments, and perhaps one day, cures.

Peer-Review Selection Committee

  • William Whitehead, PhD, Chair
  • Gary Mawe, MD
  • Emeran Mayer, MD
  • Samuel Nurko, MD
  • Douglas Drossman, MD
  • William Chey, MD

Since 2003 we have presented Research Awards to 42 investigators from around the world engaged in research aimed at advancing the understanding and treatment of chronic gastrointestinal (GI) disorders in adults and children. Their work contributes to our growing understanding of these complex conditions and how to improve their treatment. 

The four honorees were recognized at Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2018 in Washington, DC. The awards were presented by Ceciel T. Rooker, President and Executive Director, IFFGD and William Whitehead, PhD, Chair, IFFGD Research Awards Peer-Review Selection Committee.

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Award Recipients and Presenters (Left to Right): Javier Santos Vicente, MD, for Cristina Martinez, PhD; William Whitehead, PhD; Katja Kovacic, MD; Ans Pauwels, PhD; Ceciel T. Rooker; Amaranath Karunanayake, PhD.   

We are pleased to recognize the 2018 IFFGD Research Award recipients for their achievements and thank them for their commitment to research that will improve the diagnosis, treatment, and care of adults and children with chronic digestive disorders.

The 2018 IFFGD Research Award Recipients are: 

Cristina Martinez, PhD, Vall d'Hebron Research Institute, Spain – 
Recipient of the 2018 award for Basic/Translational Science Investigator

Dr. Cristina Martinez is a researcher in the neuro-immuno-gastroenterology group at the Vall d'Hebron Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain. Her current research focuses on molecular and functional approaches to the study of epithelial barrier function and its association to intestinal pathology.

Learn more about Dr. Martinez

Katja Kovacic, MD, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and the Medical College of Wisconsin, US –
Recipient of the 2018 award for Pediatric Investigator - Clinical/Basic/Translational Science

Dr. Katja Kovacic is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin and serves as the Director of Pediatric Gastrointestinal Motility and Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome programs within the Pediatric Neurogastroenterology, Motility, and Autonomic Disorders Program at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. Dr. Kovacic's work currently focuses on investigating the brain-gut mechanisms of auricular neurostimulation via functional neuroimaging.

Learn more about Dr. Kovacic

Ans Pauwels, PhD, Translational Research Center for Gastrointestinal Disorders (TARGID) at the University of Leuven, Belgium –
Recipient of the 2018 award for Clinical Science Investigator

Dr. Ans Pauwels is a researcher in the Translational Research Center for Gastrointestinal Disorders (TARGID) at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. She is currently investigating the mechanisms of symptom generation in reflux hypersensitivity and functional heartburn as well as studying the overlap between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and functional dyspepsia and other esophageal disorders, such as rumination syndrome, supra-gastric belching, and extra-esophageal symptoms of reflux.

Learn more about Dr. Pauwels

Amaranath Karunanayake, PhD, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka –
Recipient of the 2018 award for Developing Nation Investigator

Dr. Amaranath Karunanayake is a researcher working in the Department of Physiology at the University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka. He is primarily interested in the epidemiology, pathophysiology, and managmenet of functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) is Sri Lanka. Dr. Karunanayake's current research activities include exploring the epidemiology of FGIDs in different communities in Sri Lanka and assessment of autonomic functions and pain-related behaviors.

Learn more about Dr. Karunanayake.  

Research Awards
2018 Award Recipients
Amaranath Karunanayake, PhD
Katja Kovacic, MD
Cristina Martinez, PhD
Ans Pauwels, PhD
2013 Award Recipients
Enrico Corazziari, MD
Jan Tack, MD, PhD
Report from Gary Mawe, PhD: The Roles of Intestinal Nerves and Serotonin in Gut Function and Dysfunction
Ashley Blackshaw, PhD
Carlo Di Lorenzo, MD
Niranga Manjuri Devanarayana, MD
Report from Lukas Van Oudenhove, PhD: Solving the Biopsychosocial Puzzle in Functional Dyspepsia
Muriel Larauche, PhD
2011 Award Recipients
Report from Ronnie Fass, MD: Sleep and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Million Mulugeta, PhD
Adrian Miranda, MD
Samuel Nurko, MD
Sudarshan Jadcherla, MD
Shaman Rajindrajith, MD
2009 Award Recipients
Satish Rao, MD
Emeran Mayer, MD
Javier Santos, MD
Report from Martin Storr, MD, PhD: Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: New Insights in Enteric Regulation
Report From Miguel Saps, MD: Functional Abdominal Pain in Children and Adolescents
2007 Award Recipients
Report from Bruce D. Naliboff, PhD: Symptom Based Psychology for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders
Report from Magnus Simrén, MD, PhD: Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Searching for Underlying Causes
Report from Brennan M. R. Spiegel, MD, MSHS: Diagnostic Testing in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Theory vs. Reality
Report from Sylvie Bradesi, PhD: Role of the Central Immune System in Functional Disorders
Paul E. Hyman, MD
Report from Miranda A. L. van Tilburg, PhD: Home Based Guided Imagery to Treat Pediatric Functional Abdominal Pain
Report from Fernando Azpiroz, MD, PhD: Understanding Intestinal Gas
2005 Award Recipients
Report from Yvette Tache, PhD: Stress and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Unraveling the Code
Report from Shaheen Hamdy, MRCP, PhD: Adult Neurogenic Dysphagia -- Disorders and Conditions that Disrupt Swallowing
Report from Michael A. Pezzone, MD, PhD: Chronic Pelvic Pain and the Overlap of Pelvic Pain Disorders
Report from Bridget R. Southwell, PhD: Research into Treatment-Resistant Constipation in Children
Report from Rachel Rosen, MD, MPH: Symptoms Arising from Non-Acid Reflux in Children
2003 Award Recipients
Report from William E. Whitehead, PhD: Summary of Clinical Research Activities
Jyoti N. Sengupta, PhD
Report from Caroline Elder Danda, PhD: Biopsychosocial Perspectives on Assessment and Treatment
Report from Terry Buchmiller-Crair, MD: Using the Fetal Gastrointestinal Tract to Overcome Neonatal Disease
Report from Dan L. Dumitrascu, MD, PhD: The Psychosocial Adjustment to Illness in Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Report from Klaus Bielefeldt, MD, PhD: Understanding Pain and Discomfort in Functional GI Disorders
Research Grants
IFFGD Competitive Grants
2014 IFFGD Idiopathic Gastroparesis Research Grants
Leo Cheng, PhD
Braden Kuo, MD, MSc
Richard McCallum, MD
2008 IFFGD Competitive Research Grants
IFFGD Noncompetitive Grants
Other Research Grant Opportunities
Funding Research
Need for Funding Research
How to Make a Difference
The State of Research at NIH & NIDDK
Clinical Trials & Studies
Guide to Randomized Clinical Trials
Clinical Trials and Studies

Funding Research

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IFFGD funds research that helps to shape science and scientific advancement, and improve quality of life for people affected by chronic digestive disorders.

IFFGD Research Awards

Professional Education

Research funding needs