Assistant Professor of Medicine
Dr. van Tilburg is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. She received her Master's degree in Economic Psychology and her PhD in Health Psychology at Tilburg University, The Netherlands. In 2001, she completed a three-year postdoctoral fellowship in Endocrinology and Medical Psychology at Duke University Medical Center. In 2002, Dr. van Tilburg joined the UNC Center for Functional GI & Motility Disorders on a part-time basis. After securing an NIH supplement to promote re-entry into the biomedical sciences, she resumed full-time work in November 2006. She has an interest in pediatric functional GI disorders, especially Functional Abdominal Pain (FAP). Compared to adults, children’s functional GI disorders have received little attention, and Dr. van Tilburg has worked hard to expand the Center’s research activities in this area. She collaborates with pediatric gastroenterologists at the University of North Carolina, Duke University Medical Center and Goryeb Children’s Hospital in New Jersey. Her main research focus is on how to effectively involve parents and children in their own care. She has developed a home-based Guided Imagery treatment for FAP that children can use with only minimal guidance from their physician. The treatment is delivered through CDs and DVDs – thereby eliminating the need for a trained therapist -- which makes this type of treatment more widely available to children. The home-based program has been very successful in reducing abdominal pain and disability in children and has been well accepted by children, parents and clinicians. Dr. van Tilburg was the first seed grant recipient of the Center for this work and subsequently secured additional NIH funding. In addition, her work focuses on the role of abuse in unexplained GI symptoms in children. She recently received a second seed grant award to study the role of abuse and depression in suicidal ideation among adolescents who suffer from chronic abdominal pain. Dr. van Tilburg is also interested in parental perceptions of functional gastrointestinal disorders and how this affects medical consultation seeking. For her work, she was awarded the 2007 Pediatric Junior Investigator Award of the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD).