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...

Improving surgery recovery for children undergoing surgery for inflammatory bowel disease: Laying the groundwork

Principal Investigator: Mehul V. Rahul, MD; Co-Principal Investigator: Salva N. Balbale, MS, Doctoral Candidate Enhanced Recovery Protocols (ERPs) are evidence-based interventions that utilize perioperative education and counseling provided through surgery and recovery to safe discharge. ERPs have been found to decrease hospital length of stay, in-hospital costs, and complications among a variety of adult surgical populations, including those undergoing abdominal and gastrointestinal tract surgery. As many as 17 percent of the 70,000 children with IBD in the United States need surgery within five years of diagnosis to manage their disease. ERPs offer an opportunity to enhance the care of these young patients, yet these strategies are currently lagging in the pediatric setting. This study will lay the groundwork and provide a baseline assessment of ERPs in 15 pediatric surgical practice sites across the country. The investigators will evaluate the effectiveness and impact of ERPs on outcomes, and use their findings in the development of an implementation...

A Clinical Trial of Standard Repair Versus a Novel Repair for Hiatal Hernia

Principal Investigator: Eric S. Hungness, MD Muscular weakness at the junction of the diaphragm and esophagus (hiatal hernia) is a common problem that may result in heartburn, difficulty swallowing, or anemia. Current surgical repair techniques have an unacceptably high hernia recurrence rate. A novel surgical material was developed at Northwestern University and has demonstrated promising results in animal and human studies. This project will investigate the efficacy of an innovative mesh suture in hiatal hernia repair, as compared to the current gold standard material. The principle outcome of interest will be measured by a non-invasive x-ray examination 6 months following surgery. The hope is that patients undergoing repair with the novel material will have...
DHF BioRepository

DHF BioRepository

Introducing a groundbreaking research technology, the The Digestive Health Foundation became a founding supporter in 2017 of a powerful new resource for digestive health medical research: The Digestive Health Foundation BioRepository.  As one of only a few GI biorepositories of its kind in the world, the DHF BioRepository stores, organizes, and makes accessible (digitally, in real time) blood and tissue samples from patients and family members diagnosed with one or more of the digestive disorders treated at the Northwestern Medicine Digestive Health Center.  Digestive disease research using the DHF BioRepository will leverage the latest advances in information technology with cutting-edge biologic and molecular research techniques to better understand gastrointestinal diseases and to help develop better treatment options for patients. Across GI sub-specialties, from liver and pancreatic cancers, esophageal diseases/swallowing disorders, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis), GERD, IBS, bariatric surgery, nutritional issues, and many more, the extensive and growing patient network at Northwestern Medicine provides a diverse and valuable resource of participants.  After a patient chooses to participate, Northwestern Medicine directly links the patient’s anonymized electronic medical record, physiologic diagnostic test results, imaging results, and patient-directed quality of life indicators to a tissue bank that will include: samples obtained during endoscopy (biopsies), blood, urine, and stool.  The DHF BioRepository’s depth of capacity will enable physician scientists around the world to pursue large scale research studies into the mechanisms of digestive diseases.  Discoveries about the natural history and progression of digestive disease is providing the insight necessary to develop new diagnostic tools, better treatments, and eventual cures for digestive disease patients and future generations. — The Digestive Health...

Developing Ways to Reduce Inappropriate Use of (Leftover) Narcotics Prescribed for Patients Undergoing Bowel Surgery

Principal Investigator: Jonah J. Stulberg, MD, PhD, MPH A surplus of prescription pain killers continues to fuel the drug crisis in America. Accidental overdose of opioids have surpassed motor vehicle crashes in this country. Nearly two-thirds of opioid pills prescribed to Digestive Health Center (DHC) patients now go unused, leaving them vulnerable to abuse or misuse within our communities. Thanks to a Digestive Health Foundation grant, Jonah J. Stulberg, MD, PhD, MPH, a faculty member in the Department of Surgery, plans to launch the nation’s first-of-its-kind intervention project aimed at this growing risk among the DHC patient population. Through education and training, he hopes to change the culture of drug misuse among patients and the prescribing habits of ordering physicians to provide a safer and more effective pain management strategy. The study will include the installation of a one-way, sealed drug collection receptacle within the DHC Clinic; provider training on opioid prescribing risks, benefits and alternatives; and patient education materials promoting opioid medication safety. The grant will support the development of the educational tools and the statistical and project coordinator staff needed to study implementation effectiveness as well as the costs associated with the installation and maintenance of the opioid retrieval box. The ultimate goal is to develop a sustainable model for safe opioid prescribing and optimal pain control, while minimizing societal harm due to a surplus of unused...