Robert Sandler becomes president of American Gastroenterological Association Institute

May 17, 2008 — Dr. Robert S. Sandler, chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in UNC’s School of Medicine, begins a one-year term on May 19 as president of the American Gastroenterological Association Institute.

Robert Sandler becomes president of American Gastroenterological Association Institute click to enlarge Dr. Robert S. Sandler

On that date he will be officially installed as president during the annual Digestive Disease Week meeting, taking place this year in San Diego.

Sandler is Nina C. and John T. Sessions Distinguished Professor in the School of Medicine and professor of epidemiology in the UNC School of Public Health. He joined the UNC faculty in 1981 and has been division chief since 2003. He is also the longstanding director of the Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease, an NIH-funded Digestive Disease Research Core Center that is based at UNC and N.C. State University.

As a researcher, Sandler has long been nationally recognized in the field of cancer epidemiology and outcomes research. He was the principal investigator in a widely cited study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found patients who had colorectal cancer might reduce their risk of developing future colorectal adenomas (colorectal cancer precursors) by taking an aspirin daily.

Sandler received his medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine and was an intern and resident in internal medicine at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. After clinical and research fellowships in gastroenterology at UNC, Sandler was an NIH Clinical Cancer fellow at N.C. Memorial Hospital (now part of UNC Hospitals). He was a trainee in cancer epidemiology, and he earned his MPH in epidemiology from the UNC School of Public Health.

Sandler was honored in 2004 with the Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition’s Fiterman Foundation Joseph B. Kirsner Clinical Research Award in Gastroenterology. He has dedicated himself to serving several organizations by serving on committees and review panels, including the AGA Institute, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Cancer Institute, and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. For the AGA Institute, he has worked tirelessly for a number of councils, committees, task forces and the Governing Board. Dr. Sandler also has served on five editorial boards, and was an Associate Editor of Gastroenterology, the leading peer-reviewed journal in the field.

The American Gastroenterological Association is the largest and most prestigious professional organization in gastroenterology. Founded in 1897, the association is the oldest medical-specialty society nationwide, and its more than 14,500 members include physicians and scientists who research, diagnose and treat disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and liver.

Note: A photo of Sandler is available at

Media contact: Tom Hughes, 919-966-6047, 919-923-6964,