Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Northwestern Medicine/Feinberg School of Medicine
Center for Artificial Intelligence and Mathematics in Gastroenterology

Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Northwestern Medicine/Feinberg School of Medicine Center for Artificial Intelligence and Mathematics in Gastroenterology The Center for Artificial Intelligence and Mathematics in Gastroenterology (AIM-GI) is a first of its kind program developed in a division of Gastroenterology.  Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have the potential to vastly improve our ability to accurately predict, diagnose and treat our patients living with digestive diseases.  Through collaboration with engineers at the McCormick School of Engineering and physician scientists at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, our team has been incorporating mathematical modeling and advanced programming to study the mechanisms that lead to poor gastrointestinal function.  This work led to the development of a more formalized center that focuses on three main initiatives. Development of virtual organs which can be used to study the effects of surgery and medications; Development of new hybrid diagnostic tools using AI and machine learning to enhance diagnosis; Using machine learning and neutral networks to predict disease outcome. Although this is a new program, we have already had success developing an NIH funded Center of Research Expertise (CORE) and we have also developed new AI prototypes that can improve diagnostic accuracy and reliability of motility tests.  This work is supported by the generosity of the Digestive Health Foundation and these funds help provide the computational power and expertise required to continue to develop these innovative tools.  Our goal is to continue invent and develop new approaches and our partnership with the Digestive Disease Foundation will continue to allow us to grow and evolve this...

Optimal Pain Management Strategy in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Principal Investigator: Jonah J. Stulberg, MD, PhD, MPH | Salva Balbale, PhD The national opioid crisis continues to adversely affect millions of lives, including a growing number of individuals with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Studies have suggested that long-term opioid use among IBD patients can result in serious detrimental effects on GI function. Opioid use disorders in this population have also been linked to longer hospital stays, increasing health care costs, and deaths. Yet a comprehensive understanding of the opioid usage and pain management needs of these patients remains elusive. Additionally, no published studies have explored the decision-making process that IBD providers use when prescribing opioids. Dr. Stulberg’s study will lay the groundwork for developing best practices to optimize the use of opioids for IBD patients. The researchers will conduct interviews with IBD providers, in addition to focus groups with IBD patients to ensure all voices are heard and incorporated in future opioid safety efforts to enhance the care and pain management for patients with inflammatory bowel disease. (Dr. Stulberg led a previous DHF-funded study in 2017 that tracked and greatly reduced opioid prescriptions and risk of misuse in GI surgery...

p53 Mutation Spectrum (Occurrence) and Load (Genotype Damage) in Ulcerative Colitis

Principal Investigator: Guang-Yu Yang, MD Chronic inflammation is an important risk factor for cancer. Patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) face a significantly increased risk of developing colorectal cancers. Damaged DNA and genetic alterations can be caused by the inflammatory process. Identifying crucial inflammation-associated molecular events offers potential targets to predict and prevent cancers. Missense p53 mutations are one of the most common and earliest molecular events seen in UC-associated carcinogenesis. Yet little is known about the evolution of p53 mutations during the long-term course of UC and whether targeting these mutations will have an impact on the long-term cancer risk in patients with UC. Employing a next-generation sequencing approach, Dr. Yang’s study aims to determine the mutation spectrum and load of the p53 gene in this patient population. The researchers intend to identify whether specific p53 mutations are critical in driving UC-induced carcinogenesis, and to evaluate its role as an efficient biomarker for predicting the risk of cancer development in UC...

Semen quality in males with inflammatory bowel disease: Influence of medication treatment for IBD

Principal Investigator: Emanuelle Bellaguarda, MD; Co-Principal Investigator: Stephen B. Hanauer, MD Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) often affects people in their reproductive years, with little known about the impact of anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive therapies on reproductive health. Men with IBD and their partners often request information on the effect of medication on male fertility. Fears and doubts significantly affect family planning as well as impact adherence to drug treatment and disease control. Fertility concerns emphasize the need to investigate the safety of drug treatment in these patients. Investigating the impact of two novel IBD treatments on sperm quality and genetic structure in male patients, Dr. Bellaguarda hopes to improve future patient care by ultimately enhancing patient counseling. Her team at Northwestern Memorial Hospital has joined forces with Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark to take advantage of the expert knowledge in the different centers within reproduction, medical treatment in IBD, and drug...

Does an Inflammatory Bowel Disease Flare Impact the Results of the Prostate Specific Anitigen (PSA) Test Used to Screen for Prostate Cancer?

Principal Investigator: Shilajit D. Kundu, MD One million-plus Americans have IBD, accounting for more than two million ambulatory and emergency room visits annually. This health care utilization can lead to annual medical expenditures ranging from $5,000 to $8,000 per patient. Reducing unnecessary medical costs in this patient group is paramount. Take for example, PSA tests. While PSA screening can reduce prostate cancer deaths, false-positive elevations commonly occur, especially for patients with IBD. The Kundu research group recently found that men 65 and older with IBD, who underwent prostate cancer screening at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, had higher PSA values than non-IBD controls. In addition, men with IBD had a significantly higher risk of prostate cancer. However, whether the elevation in PSA is due to IBD-related inflammation versus a true reflection of an increased risk of prostate cancer remains unclear. Study findings may optimize how men with IBD are screened for prostate cancer by better assessing their risk while at the same time reducing needless medical...