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Research Programs

At the Missouri Digestive Health Center, our team of scientists and physician researchers continually searches for the causes of digestive diseases. Our researchers search for and develop therapeutics, which could eventually lead to cures for many digestive diseases.  The MDHC consists of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and the Division of Colorectal Surgery at the University of Missouri - Columbia, School of Medicine.  The MDHC has six centers of excellence that treat a full range of digestive disorders. Each center is staffed by physicians who are experts in their field and who have years of experience in treating complex and rare disorders.

Areas of expertise include:

  • Advanced and therapeutic endoscopy
  • Liver disease
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Neuromuscular diseases
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Nutritional sciences

The Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology has one of the most active research programs of any division in the School of Medicine. A number of the faculty members are funded through sources including the NIH, the VA Hospital, and private industry.

Program Director, Jamal Ibdah, MD, PhD, AGAF, has a large research program funded by the NIH that is focused on studying the molecular basis of diseases associated with fatty acid oxidation defects. The emerging clinical significance of these recessively inherited genetic disorders have stimulated to a great extent molecular research in this field. Pediatric deficiency is associated with a variety of clinical manifestations including liver, cardiac, and neuromuscular phenotypes. Ongoing studies in Dr. Ibdah's laboratory are designed to elucidate the molecular basis and underlying pathogenesis of these different phenotypes using human subjects and animal models.

John Thyfault, PhD has as his primary research interest the influence of obesity, diet, and exercise upon skeletal muscle and liver metabolism.  He is also specifically interested in the regulation of insulin sensitivity in relation to diet and exercise.

Scott Rector, PhD recently joined the GI division. His research interests include the examination of the effects of exercise training and lifestyle modification on the prevention of hepatic steatosis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in an animal model of obesity and the metabolic syndrome. 

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