Digestive Health Institute
The Digestive Health Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center looks to transform health care by delivering personalized clinical care, innovative research and clinical trials, as well as timely education for prevention, early detection and effective treatments with the ultimate goal of discovering cures and improving quality of life.
- Prevent - Encouraging healthy habits
- Detect - Promoting regular screenings
- Treat - Prescribing medications and therapies
- Cure - Utilizing state-of-the-art technologies
The Digestive Health Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center is renowned for delivering academic-level gastrointestinal (GI) care in a compassionate setting, with a goal of making substantial contributions toward advancing research and treatment in the field.
Benefitting from the collaborative atmosphere at Providence Saint John’s, the Institute provides patients with highly coordinated, multidisciplinary specialty care and broadens research and clinical trial capabilities through collaborations with the Cancer Institute, other in-hospital specialties and community partners throughout Los Angeles.
Our Centers of Excellence include:
- Bariatric Surgery and Metabolic Weight Loss Center
- GI Disorders (including IBS and IBD)
- Pancreaticobiliary Diseases
- General Gastroenterology
- Nutrition & Wellness
- Cancer Treatments – Colon, Liver, Pancreatic, Stomach, Esophagus
In addition, the Digestive Health Institute is focused on propelling bench-to-bedside investigations to expedite diagnosis, discover new screenings, address disparities among at-risk communities, develop therapeutics and treatments, create less invasive procedures and enhance quality of life for patients.
Anton Bilchik, MD, PhD and Rudy Bedford, MD are co-directors of the Digestive Health Institute at Providence Saint John’s and lead a stellar team of gastroenterologists, GI surgeons and researcher scientists. Together, this esteemed group of professionals are on course to accomplish meaningful and measurable initiatives for screening, clinical care and research, as well as community education regarding digestive health.
Dr. Bilchik, chair of the division of general surgery and director of the gastrointestinal and hepatobiliary research programs, is one of the country’s leading specialists in gastrointestinal cancers and surgical oncology. He has assisted in establishing national guidelines and quality measures for cancer patients to improve staging in colon cancer and pioneered techniques and minimally invasive approaches for liver and pancreas cancers.
Dr. Bedford is a leading gastroenterologist in Los Angeles and an authority on pancreatic and biliary diseases. He is a prominent interventional endoscopist, highly skilled in advanced diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS).
Researchers at the new Digestive Health Institute have identified several areas for the greatest impact on the community: screenings, early onset colorectal cancer, obesity and pancreaticobiliary disease, advanced endoscopy and robotic surgery, among others.
Devoted to making breakthroughs at the Digestive Health Institute at Providence Saint John’s, research scientists work with physicians to conduct clinical trials taking those breakthroughs directly to patients. Participants in clinical trials assist investigators in determining if new drugs, therapies or treatments are safe and effective.
As an example, results from our studies and clinical trials will help us reach the national benchmark of 80 percent colorectal cancer screening rate in our community, learn who is at higher risk for CRC and why, assist those with difficulty maintaining a healthy weight to lower their risk of GI cancers and innovate less-invasive, leading-edge treatments for our patients and ultimately patients everywhere.
Current statistics show increased occurrence of early onset colorectal cancer in people under age 45, especially in Black and Hispanic populations. The rise in obesity has been linked to digestive diseases including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), colon polyps and cancer, esophageal cancer, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and pancreatic cancer.
The Early Onset Colorectal Cancer (EOCRC) Research Project will use molecular multi-omics (transcriptome, genome, methylome, proteome) interrogation approaches to address the concerning trend of the 4- to 5-fold increase in the number of early onset colorectal cancer cases found in young people (under 50 years of age). Digestive Health Institute researchers have identified potential clues as to why there is an earlier onset of CRC and continues to uncover new information for future studies using archived specimen tissues from Saint John’s Cancer Institute and other cancer centers within the Providence Health System.
Providence Saint John’s Health Center and Stand Up To Cancer ® (SU2C) partnered together to create a new Dream Team, dedicated to addressing colorectal cancer disparities in medically underserved communities.The Dream Team aims to address colorectal cancer inequities through screening, research, education and training in three SU2C Zones: Greater Los Angeles, Greater Boston and the Great Plains Tribal Communities in South Dakota. These zones include diverse and distinct communities that are medically underserved and have particularly low screening rates for colorectal cancer, the second most common cause of cancer-related death in American men and women combined.
Under the leadership of Anton Bilchik, MD and with the support of Providence, the partnership with SU2C’s Colorectal Cancer Health Equity Dream Team, steers community initiatives in predominantly black communities throughout the Los Angeles area for early colon cancer screening, provides follow-up health care services for those who need it and mentors the next generation of equity researchers involved in the initiative.
The Colorectal Cancer (CRC)-CHAT (Community Health Action Teams) Project is a community-based campaign to increase colorectal screening rates in demographically diverse areas within Los Angeles.
Through community health action teams (CHATs) – residents trained and supported to work as health promoters and care navigators within their own neighborhoods will implement a locally designed and operated colorectal cancer screening campaign.
These teams will reach those who lack insurance, have poor access to health care, low socioeconomic status or are from racial/ethnic minority groups with low screening rates to increase the number of people screened.
The Digestive Health Institute provides state-of-the-art treatments using an integrative and holistic approach to patient care. The institute’s dedicated physicians and researchers apply groundbreaking knowledge and use innovative technology to study and treat widespread gastrointestinal (GI) disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), colon, liver and pancreas cancers and beyond.
These treatments include:
- Anorectal Manometry Testing
- Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
- Endoscopic Ultrasound
- Esophageal and Anorectal Manometry Testing
- H Pylori Breath Testing
- Percutaneous Gastrostomy Placement (feeding tube)
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth Breath Testing
- Upper Endoscopy
- Wireless Capsule Endoscopy
- Wireless Motility Testing (Smart Pill)
- Wireless pH Testing
- Robotic and advanced minimally invasive procedures
- Complex gastrointestinal cancer surgeries
- HIPEC (heated intraoperative peritoneal chemotherapy) for advanced intestinal cancers
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