The Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology participates in research through the:

Texas Medical Center Digestive Disease Center

The Texas Medical Center Digestive Disease Center is a federally funded center designed to serve basic and clinical scientists at institutions within the Texas Medical Center (Baylor College of Medicine and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston) and at The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

The center facilitates ongoing digestive diseases research, promote translational research between basic and clinical areas, develop new projects, nurture new investigators, and provide GI educational activities. The DDC supports four basic science cores (morphology, cell and molecular biology, gastrointestinal immunology, and integrative biology) and one clinical core (study design and specimen collection).

Pilot/feasibility and enrichment programs to support innovative ideas and new investigators in digestive disease research and foster collaboration are a key part of our center. The center draws together a multidisciplinary group of investigators, including basic scientists with proven track records of success, and well coordinated clinical programs dealing with pediatric and adult GI patients.

Barrett's Esophagus Research Projects

Our group is currently conducting several studies that can be grouped under several major headings.

Genetic Determinants of Barrett’s Esophagus

We are conducting a study partly funded by the Helis Foundation to examine potential genetic factors that may predispose to the formation of Barrett's esophagus. The candidate genes we will examine include genes that control insulin resistance, obesity, and inflammation.

Endoscopic Ablation of Barrett’s Esophagus

In the ablation studies, we are enrolling patients with a confirmed diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus. Patients are offered a novel therapy which is a catheter-based ablation of the abnormal Barrett’s epithelium using radiofrequency energy (BARRX). Patients are followed up systematically to examine the response rates as well as long-term outcomes post ablation. Such studies will provide objective information about the effectiveness and side effects of the ablation therapy.

Other Studies

We are also conducting several studies involving the definition, mechanisms, pathogenesis and treatment of reflux disease and Barrett's metaplasia, identification of potential treatment targets, predictors of treatment response, and predictors of survival (of patients with cancer).

For more information on Barrett's-related studies, please contact us at (713) 798-0950.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research

Research is a key mission of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Baylor College of Medicine. Only through continued research with participation of patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis will we be able to advance the understanding and improve the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. We have a range of opportunities for patients with inflammatory bowel disease to participate in research from filling out questionnaires to providing blood samples to trials of new drugs.

Baylor College of Medicine is an official member of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America’s (CCFA) Clinical Research Alliance. This allows our site to be involved in multi-centered studies that are headed by the CCFA.

Drug Registries

We are conducting registry studies to monitor those patients who are taking biologic medications. Participation in these studies does not require a change in how your doctor is treating your Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. They are ways we gather information on the safety of medications that are currently approved for use in Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis:

CD INFORM. This is an observational study designed to obtain long-term safety data on patients with Crohn’s disease being treated with natalizumab (Tysabri). The study duration is five years from enrollment and subjects will be followed during normal physician visits.

SECURE. This is an observational study designed to track safety outcomes of patients who have taken certolizumab pegol (Cimzia) for the treatment of Crohn's disease compared to a non-Cimzia control population. The study duration is 10 years and subjects will be followed during normal physician visits and through web surveys and telephone calls.

Genetic Studies

The Multi-Center African American Inflammatory Bowel Disease Study (MAAIS). This is a study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to identify genes involved in Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis and how they may differ by race. This study involves a one time blood draw and the completion of a single questionnaire.

Diet Studies

Impact of Diet and Nutrition on Inflammatory Bowel Disease. This study is evaluating what impact diet and nutrition has on Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis including whether certain dietary habits can cause Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, what nutritional deficiencies are seen in patients with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis and whether dietary modifications can alter the symptoms/course of the disease. The study involves the completion of a single questionnaire.

For more information on inflammatory bowel disease-related studies at Baylor, please contact our research coordinator at

Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety

Research studies at the Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety include: 

  • Screening and surveillance of GI colorectal and liver cancers
  • Epidemiology and outcomes of digestive disorders
  • Barrett's esophagus and gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Viral hepatitis
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Genetic epidemiology