It Takes Gut to Grow: The Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition

February 12, 2020 by

By Dr. Sean Moore, Chief, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition

Dr. Borowitz presenting his Division’s work on functional gastrointestinal disorders at a recent Pediatric Academic Societies meeting.

Q. Tell me about what’s going on in your Division.
We are growing to meet the current and future needs of children with digestive diseases! Jim Sutphen launched our Division 38 years ago and his impact continues to reverberate throughout what we do. Jim’s first recruit, Steve Borowitz, has been a dynamic leader in Pediatrics from the start and successfully led the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology for the past 11 years.

During his tenure as Chief, Steve recruited two former UVA pediatric chief residents, Barrett Barnes (now Residency Program Director) and Jeremy Middleton (now Pediatric Clerkship Director), Michael Mendoza (Hepatology), and two physician-scientists (Sana Syed and Sean Moore), and secured our first USNWR ranking. With help from the amazing nurses in our Division and the Battle Building, we’re especially proud to consistently be in the top 10% of patient satisfaction across UVA Children’s Hospital and the Health System.

Q. What will be changing?
We will continue the tradition of being a Division that excels at patient care and teaching. When one is caring for the health of a child, nothing is more important. With Drs. Barnes, Borowitz, and Middleton respective leadership roles in the educational mission of the Department, we will continue to see teaching thrive and be recognized for excellence. This teaching will take on new dimensions as we continue our fledgling pediatric GI fellowship program under the leadership of Drs. Middleton and Mendoza.

The last three years have brought a dramatic increase in research and quality improvement activity in the Division. In alignment with valuing teaching, research, clinical service and faculty development equally, I think we will see great research attracting great fellows and faculty who provide great clinical care, just as great clinical care is informed by research and brings its own research opportunities.

Q. How will these changes help the team?
Children deserve not only the very best clinical care we can provide but also our best science—discoveries that will lead to cures and better therapies. For example, Dr. Sana Syed’s groundbreaking work on using machine learning to analyze intestinal biopsy images is laying the groundwork for artificial intelligence-augmented diagnosis and management in pediatric enteropathies. Anyone who has been to pediatric morning report in recent years knows to ask not just what disease the patient has but what sort of patient has the disease. To that end, I am proud to serve as Co-Director for the Microbiome Initiative at UVA as a part of a broader University-wide emphasis on Precision Medicine. Recent work we’ve published with the NICUs at UVA and INOVA are setting the stage to predict which premature babies are at highest risk for suffering liver injury from intravenous nutrition, which will ultimately allow us to be proactive in selecting the best nutritional interventions for a particular child.

Q.What can we expect from new leadership?
Imperfection seasoned with lots of enthusiasm for improving, good will, passion, and dad jokes.

Q. Why are you passionate about this?
Pediatrics is an amazing field and I absolutely love what I do. Leadership is a chance to pay it forward and help colleagues and trainees succeed in their missions of caring, educating, creating, and advocating for children.

The Moore Laboratory

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