Director, UNC Center for Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders
Dr. Whitehead's primary research interest is the investigation of physiological, psychological, and genetic mechanisms responsible for the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Recent publications focus on the role of visceral pain hypersensitivity, gastrointestinal motility, and the comorbidity of IBS with non-gastrointestinal disorders. This research is supported by NIH grants RO1 DK31369 and R24 DK67674. A second long-term interest is the understanding and treatment of constipation and fecal incontinence. Recent contributions include randomized controlled trials of biofeedback for both outlet dysfunction constipation and fecal incontinence. Current work includes training primary care physicians and nurses to screen for fecal incontinence and treat it conservatively in order to postpone nursing home admission of frail elderly patients. This is supported by a UNC Investments for the Future grant and by NIH grant RO1 DK57048.