D. Brent Polk Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
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The Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition Division is devoted to shaping the way we understand and care for children with digestive and hepatobiliary disease through cutting edge clinical and laboratory research. Our research programs are supported by major funding organizations such as the National Institute of Health, Children's Digestive Health and Nutrition Foundation, and the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.  

Our Division works closely with the Digestive Disease Research Center (DDRC) on multiple projects. The DDRC promotes digestive diseases-related research in an integrative, collaborative and multidisciplinary manner. In addition to enhancing the basic research capabilities of established investigators, the center attracts investigators not currently involved in digestive diseases-related research to pursue these lines of investigation in order to facilitate the translation of basic research findings to the clinical area. The center also develops and implements programs for training and establishment of young investigators in digestive diseases-related research. 

Read more about our investigators and their research improving the lives of children with intestinal and liver disease.

Sari A. Acra, M.D., MPH
Dr. Acra's research interests revolve around the field of nutrition, particularly the impact of alterations in caloric energy balance and body composition on human diseases. As an outgrowth of his clinical work in aerodigestive disorders, he is also involved in research focused on organic and functional dyspeptic disorders, including the impact of psychosocial stress on intestinal inflammation. Dr. Acra is involved in over 10 clinical research studies, has authored or co-authored over 30 scientific publications and book chapters, and has been an elected member of the Society of Pediatric Research since 2004.
Learn more about Dr. Acra's research. 

Julie L. Anderson, M.D., MSCI
Dr. Anderson’s interests include functional gastrointestinal disorders. Her research focuses on the role of visceral sensitivity in functional gastrointestinal disorders. She is also interested in cognitive and emotional factors that can influence pain severity and recovery.
Learn more about Dr. Anderson's research. 

Girish S. Hiremath, M.D., MPH
Dr. Hiremath is a board certified pediatric gastroenterologist with a broad background in pediatrics, gastroenterology, global health, and research methods. His emphasis is on providing outstanding clinical care to his patients, and to conduct original translational research addressing some of the most challenging needs of individuals with eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders, particularly eosinophillic esophagitis. His clinical-translational eosinophilic esophagitis research focuses on: (1) understanding its epidemiology, (2) applying advanced biomedical technologies to gain novel insights into its pathogenesis and molecular mechanisms, and (3) to discover and to develop innovative non-invasive and/or minimally invasive approaches to diagnose and/or monitor its activity.

Dr. Hiremath's research has been recognized and supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) training grant, North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (NASPGHAN), American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), and the Consortium of Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease Researchers (CEGIR) training award.
Learn more about Dr. Hiremath's research 

J. Andres Martinez, M.D.
Dr. Martinez's interests include nutrition support and intestinal rehabilitation. He is a member of the Pediatric Intestinal Failure Consortium (PIFCon), which is an international multicenter group that aims to improve the care for patients with short bowel syndrome and other forms of intestinal failure. Dr. Martinez also collaborates with Dr. Judy Aschner in research that looks at the effects of manganese in intravenous nutrition. Dr Martinez is also an active member of the Nutrition Committee of NASPGHAN
Learn more about Dr. Martinez's research. 

Kelly F. Thomsen, M.D., MSCI
Dr. Thomsen's interests include nutrition and lipid metabolism. Her research focuses on the role of lipids and lipid mediators on inflammation and oxidative stress in cystic fibrosis and other disease states. She is also interested in intestinal rehabilitation and the effects of lipid emulsions in infants who require parenteral nutrition support.
Learn more about Dr. Thomsen's research. 

Fang Yan, M.D., Ph.D
Dr. Yan is a Research Associate Professor devoting all her efforts to basic investigations of gastrointestinal epithelial growth and repair. Her NIH funded laboratory studies the mechanisms through which probiotic bacteria protect the intestine from cytokine-induced injury and inflammation. In addition, she studies the effects of epidermal growth factor signaling on gastrointestinal injury and repair in various disease states including colitis, Helicobacter pylori associated gastritis, and carcinogenesis.
Learn more about Dr. Yan's research. 

Clinical Fellows
Our outstanding clinical fellows spend two years of their training dedicated to research and post-doctoral education. Current and past fellows have conducted basic and clinical scholarly work in inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, obesity, functional abdominal disorders, gastroesophageal reflux disease, H. pylori, and global health.
Learn more about our fellows' research.


Vanderbilt University School Of Medicine
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Monroe Carrell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt