Recognizing the critical role of research in advancing the understanding and care of chronic gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses in adults and children, IFFGD was pleased to present its 2019 Research Recognition Awards to three young investigators at Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2019 in San Diego, California. First established in 2003, these awards are intended to recognize and support the research accomplishments of young investigators actively engaged in research in neurogastroenterology, and especially, in the basic mechanisms and clinical aspects of functional GI and motility disorders. To date, the foundation has presented awards to 45 investigators from around the world.

The award recipients were selected by a committee of leaders in the medical and scientific community: 

Peer-Review Selection Committee

  • William Whitehead, PhD, Chair
  • Gary Mawe, MD
  • Emeran Mayer, MD
  • Samuel Nurko, MD
  • Douglas Drossman, MD
  • Jan Tack, MD, PhD
  • Maura Corsetti, PhD

The three honorees were recognized at DDW 2019. 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. 

We are pleased to recognize the 2019 IFFGD Research Recognition 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 GI disorders.

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Award Recipients and Presenters (Left to Right): Arpana Gupta, PhD; David Levinthal, MD, PhD; Ceciel T. Rooker; William Whitehead, PhD (Chair); and Marc Benninga, MD, accepting for Ilan Koppen, MD, PhD.  

The 2019 IFFGD Research Award Recipients Are: 

Arpana Gupta, PhD, G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, USA – Recipient of the 2019 award for Clinical Science Investigator

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 G. Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience at UCLA. She is interested in interactions between the environment 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). 

Learn more about Dr. Gupta.

David Levinthal, MD, PhD, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, USA –
Recipient of the 2019 award for Basic/Translational Investigator 

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. 

Learn more about Dr. Levinthal.

Ilan Koppen, MD, PhD, University of Amsterdam Academic Medical Center, The Netherlands –
Recipient of the 2019 award for Pediatric Investigator - Clinical/Basic/Translational Science

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. 

Learn more about Dr. Koppen.