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The faculty members listed below participate in training fellows in the digestive disease epidemiology training program. Trainees may elect other members of the medical school and public health school faculty to serve as their preceptors.

Robert Sandler, MD, MPH is the director of the training program, former Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and director of the NIH-funded Digestive Disease Research Core Center, the Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease. His research over a long career has concerned the epidemiology of a number of chronic gastrointestinal conditions including individuals at higher risk to develop gastrointestinal malignancies, diverticulosis, irritable bowel syndrome, gastric cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, constipation, colon adenomas and microscopic colitis. His current research is focused on diverticulosis and microscopic colitis.

Chelsea Anderson, PhD. Dr. Anderson is the biostatistician/epidemiologist for the Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease and for the Data Management Center for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. She joined our group in August 2022. Dr. Anderson serves as the biostatistician on the grant and a member of the training faculty but she is not a primary mentor. It is expected that Dr. Anderson will meet with every trainee, providing guidance about statistical design, analysis, and statistical programming.

Edward Barnes, MD, MPH. Dr. Barnes completed internal medicine training at UNC and his GI training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  He received an MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health.  He returned to UNC for advanced IBD training prior to joining the faculty.  In this application he has been promoted from junior mentor to full mentor.  He has a particular interest in improving outcomes for patients with inflammatory bowel disease who require a colectomy and an ileal pouch-anal anastomosis. Dr. Barnes has developed new research strategies to identify risk profiles for those patients at greatest risk for adverse outcomes to improve the effectiveness of available therapies for pouch-related disorders.  He was awarded the 2021 Sherman Prize.  He is funded by a K23 from NIDDK.

Sidney Barritt, MD, MSCR joined the GI faculty after serving as a trainee on this award. He is chief of the hepatology section within the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. He is a transplant hepatologist with a special interest in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, general hepatology, and liver transplantation.

Erica Brenner, MD, MSCR. Dr. Brenner is a recent graduate of this training program and will serve as a junior training faculty member. She completed pediatric residency, fellowship and advanced IBD fellowship at UNC. She was selected for the UNC Physician Scientist Program which offers her guaranteed protected time and additional resources.  She has also been awarded a pilot study from the DDRCC. Her research is focused on prevention, patient-centered research, and clinical outcomes among patients with inflammatory bowel disease. During the pandemic she co-founded an international collaborative database that provided essential information on covid outcomes in IBD patients with a number of high-profile papers.

Cary Cotton, MD, MPH. Dr. Cotton was first supported on this training grant with a 2-year medical student supplement leading to an MPH from the Gillings School of Public Health.  During GI fellowship he was also supported on this grant and has been enrolled in the doctoral program in the Department of Epidemiology with the goal of receiving a PhD.  He joined the GI Division faculty in January 2023.  His research primarily concerns the application of modeling techniques for the management of Barrett’s esophagus and eosinophilic esophagitis.

Evan Dellon, MD MPH,. Dr. Dellon joined the UNC faculty in 2008 after obtaining an MPH degree on this training grant. He is currently funded by two R01’s from the NIH. He is the Director of the UNC Center for Esophageal Diseases and Swallowing. His major research interest is in eosinophilic esophagitis. In particular, he has active investigations in both etiologic and clinical epidemiology on this topic.

Swathi Eluri, MD, MSCR. Dr. Eluri was a resident at Johns Hopkins.  She received training in gastroenterology and advanced swallowing at UNC supported by this training grant.  Her research interests include improving screening and surveillance practices in Barrett’s esophagus, use of non-endoscopic screening modalities, treatment outcomes in eosinophilic esophagitis and swallowing disorders. She was awarded a research scholar award from the American Gastroenterological Association. She is currently supported by a K23 award titled “Approaches and Outcomes of Shared Decision-making and Patient Centered Care Delivery in Barrett’s.”

Donna Evon, PhD. Dr. Evon is a clinical psychologist with research interests that include (a) identifying and understanding psychological, social and behavioral factors associated with hepatitis C, antiviral treatment initiation, and treatment outcomes and (b) developing psychosocial interventions to improve access to care, coping with treatment-related side effects and the stress of antiviral treatment, medication adherence, and persistence on antiviral therapy regimens. She is an expert in qualitative research and patient reported outcomes.

Michael Fried, MD,. Dr. Fried previously directed the liver program at UNC. He has been involved with clinical and laboratory studies of hepatitis C since 1990 when he served for three years as a medical staff fellow in the Liver Diseases Section of the National Institutes of Health. Dr Fried has been the principal investigator on numerous Phase I, II and III clinical trials of various antiviral agents for chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Since his appointment to UNC in 1998, Dr. Fried continues his commitment to the development of new and more effective treatments for these and other chronic liver diseases. He has received funding from the NIH for investigator-initiated research and has been funded by a K24 Mid-Career Investigator Award. He created an international multicenter longitudinal, observational study of patients being treated for HCV at academic and community medical centers in order to understand the true real-world safety and effectiveness of treatment regimens for hepatitis C (HCV-TARGET).  He was awarded me CDER Regulatory Science Excellence Honor Award from the FDA.  His role on the grant is to serve as a mentor for trainees interested in clinical trials or clinical research in liver diseases.

Hans Herfarth, MD, PhD,. Dr. Herfarth is a gastroenterologist with clinical and research interest and expertise in inflammatory bowel disease. He is the past chair of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Clinical Alliance. He was the PI for “Merit-UC: methotrexate response in treatment of ulcerative colitis” a randomized, double blind, prospective trial that investigated the efficacy of methotrexate in induction and maintenance of steroid free remission in ulcerative colitis (U01DK092239).

Michael Kappelman, MD, MPH,. Michael Kappelman is a pediatric gastroenterologist with interests in epidemiology, pharmacoepidemiology, and health services research in the area of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). He joined the UNC faculty after completing fellowships in pediatric gastroenterology and pediatric health services research at Harvard Medical School and a Master’s in Public Health in Clinical Effectiveness at the Harvard School of Public Health. His current work is focused on 1) analyzing the utilization of resources and economic impact of IBD, and 2) studying the quality of care in this patient population. He has received research funding from the NIH, AHRQ, CDC, PCORI, foundations, and industry.  He currently serves as the PI for two large PCORI-funded research projects: a pragmatic clinical trial in pediatric Crohn’s disease and an observational comparative effectiveness study in adult IBD.

Millie Long, MD, MPH,. Millie Long received an MPH while a fellow on this grant. She is currently the fellowship training director in the GI Division. She is chair of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Clinical Alliance and the co-Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Gastroenterology. During her fellowship she also completed board certification in Preventive Medicine. Her research interest is in preventive care aspects of inflammatory bowel disease. She has authored seminal papers on the risk of malignancy associated with IBD therapies.

Jennifer Lund, PhD,is a graduate of the program. She is an Associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology with a focus on pharmacoepidemiology. Her research program generates robust evidence on the utilization and effects of medical interventions that will inform decisions made by patients, their caregivers, healthcare providers, and policymakers. She has leveraged clinical trials, disease registries, administrative databases, electronic health records, data linkages, and advanced epidemiologic methods to conduct research investigating: (1) the delivery of high-quality care and (2) the effectiveness and safety of alternative treatment options. She has special expertise working with large administrative databases to address issues in comparative effectiveness.

Andrew Moon, MD, MPHDr. Moon trained in Internal Medicine at the University of Washington. He returned to Chapel Hill for fellowship training in gastroenterology and transplant hepatology.  He is a former trainee on this grant.  Dr. Moon has an interest in epidemiology and outcomes research in liver cancer and cirrhosis. His specific research interests include hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) screening, treatment for early stage HCC and addressing post-treatment symptoms through monitoring of patient reported outcomes.  He is supported by a career award from the AASLD.

Anne Peery, MD, MSCR. Dr. Peery is graduate of the program. She is currently supported on a R01 from NIDDK. Her research focus is on diverticular disease and she has written original research on this topic as well as serving as an author of guidelines from the AGA.14 She has also served as the lead author of papers published by our group on the burden of GI disease.9-12, 16The burden paper has involved several prior trainees..

Nicholas Shaheen, MD, MPH, is a gastroenterologist who received a Master’s in Public Health in Epidemiology from UNC’s School of Public Health as a previous trainee on this grant. He is the current GI Division Chief. His research is in the areas of Barrett’s esophagus, esophageal adenocarcinoma, and gastroesophageal reflux disease.  His current work seeks to better define the risk factors for Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma. He has NIH funding for a T35 and U01. He is the co-director of the UNC CTSA. Healthcare utilization issues are especially important in GERD, and a major focus of his work has been the utilization of endoscopy and other healthcare expenditures related to GERD and Barrett’s esophagus. Dr. Shaheen’s role on the grant will be to help mentor current and future trainees, and to identify promising areas for their research.

Til Stürmer, MD, PhD. Dr. Stürmer is the chair of the Department of Epidemiology at UNC. He has a dual focus in epidemiologic methods and clinical epidemiology. His research in epidemiologic methods includes the development of more efficient matching strategies in genetic epidemiology, measurement error correction methods in case-control studies, the value of propensity scores for pharmacoepidemiologic studies, and the novel integration of ideas from measurement error correction and propensity score analysis to improve control for confounding by medication-use choices using data from validation studies.

Cluster diagram depicting joint publications by training faculty on this grant for the past 10 years.  Colors represent research areas: Esophageal disease (green), IBD (red), liver (blue), pharmacoepidemiology (yellow). The size of the circles is proportional to the number of publications. VOSviewer software


The faculty on this application are unusually interactive. Figure 1 indicates shared publications between fellows and faculty during the past 10 years.

Figure 1. Collaboration between faculty and trainees*


*The nodes represent current faculty and present/past fellows (past 10 years). The size of the node is proportional to the number of publications with a trainee. The colors represent interest groups: red (esophageal), yellow (colonic), blue (liver), green (IBD). Collaborations are represented by connecting lines. Publications are limited to papers written by a trainee within one year of fellowship completion. Created using VOSviewer software