2014-12-19 22:36:05 UTC

AGA Investing in the Future Student Research Fellowship

Application Deadline: Feb. 5, 2016
Start Date: April 1, 2016

Total Award Amount: $5,000
Term: 1 year
Number of Awards: 12
Eligible Categories: Student Award

This fellowship provides 12 awards at $5,000 for underrepresented minority undergraduate and medical school students to perform eight to 10 weeks of research related to digestive diseases or nutrition. Highly qualified students will travel out of state to work with top investigators in the fields of gastroenterology and hepatology. The award amount includes housing, travel and a stipend.


The objective of this award is to stimulate interest among underrepresented minority students in digestive disease and nutrition research.


  • Underrepresented minority (URM) students from accredited U.S. Institutions may apply. Eligible candidates will include African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives and Natives of the U.S. Pacific Islands.
  • Candidates may not hold similar salary support awards from other agencies (e.g. American Liver Foundation, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, etc.).
  • This award is not intended to provide salary support for laboratory technicians.
  • Past recipients of the AGA Student Research Fellowship Award may reapply for continuous funding provided a scientific progress report was submitted for the previous project and other eligibility requirements are met.

Selection Criteria and Review Process

  • Applicants will select and rank in order of preference three mentors from the Investing in the Future mentor roster. Members of the AGA Research Awards Panel and the Investing in the Future Program Mentors will select the award recipients.


  • Award recipient must secure his/her housing for the duration of the fellowship.
  • A scientific progress report is required upon completion of the fellowship.
  • Award recipients are required to acknowledge the AGA Investing in the Future Student Research Fellowship and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (R25DK096968) in all testimonials publications, abstracts and/or presentations that result from the award.
  • Recipients of this award will be recognized at the Researcher Recognition Celebration during DDW.

Abstract Submission

Award recipients are encouraged (but not required) to submit abstracts for presentation at Digestive Disease Week® (DDW), the world’s largest gathering of clinicians, educators and researchers in gastrointestinal and hepatic disease and function. If a recipient’s abstract is accepted by the AGA for presentation, he/she may apply for the AGA Student Abstract Prize, a $500 travel award to attend DDW. To submit an abstract for consideration, visit the DDW website.

Application Submission Instructions

The application deadline date for this award is Feb. 5, 2016. Complete application instructions will be available soon. Please direct all questions to the Research Awards Manager via telephone at 301-222-4012 or email at awards@gastro.org.

The AGA gratefully acknowledges support of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (R25DK096968).


Use the selector tool below to review a list of mentors who have participated in this program in the past.

Maria T. Abreu, MD, AGAF (Basic Knowledge of Spanish Preferred)

AbreuUniversity of Miami, Miami, FL
Chief, Division of Gastroenterology; Professor of Medicine; Professor, Microbiology and Immunology

Dr. Abreu’s research interest is host-bacterial interactions and, in particular, the role of toll-like receptor signaling in intestinal inflammation. Her translational work has focused on genotype-phenotype relationships in inflammatory bowel disease and prediction of response to medical therapies.

Housing Information:

John M. Carethers, MD

carerthers University of Michigan. Ann Arbor, MI
Professor and Chair of Medicine

His laboratory studies the development and progression of colorectal neoplasms. A key area of focus is the consequences of developing tumors with inactivation of the DNA mismatch repair system. His laboratory has discovered that 5-fluorouracil (5FU), the main agent used to treat colorectal cancer is recognized and bound by an intact DNA mismatch repair system to execute cytotoxicity. Clinical studies utilizing human colorectal cancer samples matched with epidemiological information allowed his lab to show that patients whose tumors lacked intact mismatch repair function did not respond to 5FU chemotherapy.

May–July; On Campus-Northwood Community Apartments: $1,700. Contact tiarad@umich.edu for additional housing information.

Eugene B. Chang, MD

University of Chicago School of Medicine, Chicago, IL
Martin Boyer Professor of Medicine; Associate Section Chief for Research, Division of Gastroenterology

Dr. Eugene Chang has been studying host-microbial interactions of the intestine, particularly in defining communication signals/pathways that are involved in maintaining intestinal homeostasis. These studies are also aimed at better understanding how perturbations or types of enteric flora contribute to the development of digestive diseases, especially inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). As part of his research, Dr. Chang has defined several novel mechanisms and mediators of action of probiotic organisms that are currently being developed as therapeutic agents. One of the major actions of the enteric microbes is the maintenance of intestinal, epithelial heat shock proteins inherently important for enhancing cellular protection against immune/inflammatory stress, inhibiting apoptosis, and suppressing intestinal inflammation. In addition, Dr. Chang is interested in the study of intestinal epithelial biology and pathobiology. His investigations include studies of the function and regulation of apical membrane Na-H exchangers (NHEs) that are major mediators of Na absorption by the intestine. He has been particularly interested in defining adaptor proteins involved in membrane trafficking of NHEs and functional coupling with other membrane transporters. He is also investigating the acute and chronic effects of immune and inflammatory mediators on epithelial barrier and transport functions. Dr. Chang's laboratory is developing serological and tissue biomarkers predictive of risk for colorectal, hepatocellular, and esophageal cancers.

Housing Information:

Sheila E. Crowe, MD

University of California San Diego School of Medicine, San Diego, CA
Professor of Medicine and Director, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition Research

Dr. Crowe’s basic research explores the interaction of luminal contents, including microbes, with the gastrointestinal mucosa that can lead to inflammatory disease and associated epithelial cancer. She has focused on the role of oxidative stress in modulating host responses to bacteria, antigens, and inflammatory processes.

Housing Information

Marcia Cruz-Correa, MD

Cruz-CorreaUniversity of Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Associate Professor of Medicine & Biochemistry

Dr. Correa’s research focus is gastrointestinal oncology, including the study of epigenetics and genetics in gastrointestinal cancer, hereditary GI cancers, and chemoprevention of gastrointestinal neoplasia.

Nicholas O. Davidson, MD

Davidson Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO
Professor of Medicine and Chief of Gastroenterology

Dr. Davidson’s lab is interested in the genetic regulation of intestinal and hepatic lipid metabolism. He is actively investigating the role of genetic modifiers of cholesterol gallstone formation and the genetic interactions of apoB and FABPs. His research interests also extend to the interactions between intestinal lipid metabolism, through targeted deletion of the microsomal trlglyceride transfer protein (Mttp) and alterations in glucose homeostasis and insulin secretion.

On-campus housing upon availability; $1,800/10 weeks.

Ajay Goel, PhD

Goel Baylor Research Institute, Baylor University Medical Center Dallas, TX
Director, Epigenetics and Cancer Prevention

Dr. Ajay Goel, director of epigenetics and cancer prevention at Baylor University Medical Center, and a leader in curcumin research, has done many studies showing how curcumin can aid in many illnesses associated with inflammation, from cancer to arthritis, and even Alzheimer’s disease. He is currently researching the prevention of gastrointestinal cancers using integrative and alternative approaches, including botanical products. Two of the primary botanicals he is investigating are curcumin (from turmeric) and boswellia.

Dr. Goel’s research activities are focused in the field of basic and translational research, with an interest in understanding the molecular genetics and epigenetics of human gastrointestinal cancers and its prevention. Some of the specific research interests include:

  • Investigating the fundamental concepts and contribution of epigenetic alterations, including the role of aberrant DNA methylation, histone modifications and non-coding RNAs (microRNAs, lncRNAs, snoRNAs etc.) in the pathogenesis of gastrointestinal cancers, particularly, colorectal carcinogenesis
  • Using genome-wide microarrays or Next Generation sequencing tools, development of DNA methylation and microRNA-based diagnostic, prognostic and predictive biomarkers for response to chemotherapy in gastrointestinal cancers. Our laboratory has identified several such novel screening biomarkers that can help detect colorectal neoplasia (adenomatous polyps and cancers) noninvasively by analyzing fecal and blood specimens from patients with colorectal neoplasia.
  • Additionally, our laboratory is also interested in researching prevention of cancer using integrative approaches, such as the use of diet-based botanicals and polyphenols.

For information about summer housing, contact Shawn Orange at shawn.orrange@baylorhealth.edu.

Aida Habtezion, MD

HabtezionStanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, CA
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Dr. Habtezion’s research focus is the study of the inflammatory process and leukocyte recruitment in acute and chronic pancreatitis.

Housing Information

Barbara H. Jung, MD

JungUniversity of Illinois Chicago, IL
Associate Professor of Medicine
Chief, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Dr. Jung has an active basic science laboratory studying the mechanisms of colon cancer progression and metastasis, as well as potential biomarkers to predict treatment outcomes. Colorectal cancer (CRC) remains the second deadliest cancer in the U.S. with an estimated 136,830 new cases and 50,310 deaths in 2014. The overall number of new cases and deaths has decreased over the past 10 years, most likely due to enhanced screening and early detection. However, once CRC has metastasized to distant locations, survival drops dramatically. Understanding the switch to metastatic behavior and developing therapeutic strategies to target this process are key unmet clinical challenges. The Transforming Growth Factor (TGF) ß super family, which is involved in the regulation of cell proliferation, differentiation, migration, and apoptosis, is frequently mutated in CRC indicating the importance of these pathways in colon tumorigenesis. Dr. Jung’s laboratory is engaged in studies to understand the TGFß superfamily downstream signaling during the transition to metastatic phenotype in order to predict outcomes of TGFß pathway-directed therapy.  In addition, Dr. Jung’s research group is studying the impact of the gut microbiome (bacteria living in the colon) on the development of CRC. Finally her research group is investigating the expression of a mutant protein (BARD1 splice variant) as a potential biomarker to predict CRC patient sensitivity to an intervention targeting DNA repair in colon cancer.

For information about summer housing, contact Courtney Chamerski
at 312-355-6318 or intern@housing.uic.edu.

Ellen Li, MD, PhD

LiStony Brook University, East Setauket, NY
Professor of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology; Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

Dr. Li’s major research interest is on defining the role of the gut microbiome in digestive diseases, particularly inflammatory bowel diseases, colon cancer, and functional GI disorders (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome). Dr. Li has launched an interdepartmental Digestive Diseases Biobanking Core that provides an infrastructure that encourages collaborations between clinicians and basic scientists in conducting clinical translational research.

Housing Information

M. Bishr Omary, MD, PhD

Omary University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Professor and Chair of Molecular & Integrative Physiology

Dr. Omary’s current research focuses include: (i) Studying the cytoskeletal intermediate filament proteins that are specifically expressed in digestive-type epithelia, termed keratin polypeptides 8, 18, 19 and 20 (K8/K18/K19/K20). This includes studying their regulation via phosphorylation, glycosylation and other posttranslational modifications; studying their regulation via identifying and characterizing their associated proteins; and their function and disease association. For example, we demonstrated that mutations in K8, K18 and K19 predispose their carriers to acute and chronic forms of liver disease and are associated with disease progression. (ii) Understanding the molecular pathogenesis and significance of the hepatocyte inclusions, termed Mallory-Denk bodies. For example, we identified several critical genetic and posttranslational modifications that are essential for the formation of the inclusions. (iii) Defining potential therapeutic targets for acute and chronic hepatitis and pancreatitis. This is being pursued, in part, by aiming to understand genetic modifiers that regulate the susceptibility to experimental liver and pancreatic diseases.

Housing Information

Richard M. Peek, Jr., MD

PeekVanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Professor of Medicine and Chief of Gastroenterology

The overarching theme for Dr. Peek's research has been the delineation of the signaling events initiated by bacterial: epithelial cell contact that regulates epithelial cellular phenotypes related to H. pylori-induced gastric carcinogenesis. In examining variability of host responses to carcinogenic strains, his laboratory demonstrated that the strain-specific H. pylori protein, CagA, enters epithelial cells and activates ß-catenin dependent signaling. His laboratory also developed rodent models (i.e., Mongoliangerbils and mice) as well as ex vivo gastric gland culture systems that closely recapitulate cellular organization in the stomach to examine the effects of junctional proteins and ß-catenin on carcinogenic responses to pathogenic H. pylori strains. Thus, he has sought to translate results seamlessly from cell culture to rodent models to human populations.

On-campus housing available May 22–Aug. 2.

Lewis R. Roberts, MB ChB, PhD

RobertsMayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN
Professor of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Dr. Roberts's research interests include studies of the molecular mechanisms of liver and biliary carcinogenesis; the development of biomarkers and clinical tests to improve the diagnosis and treatment of liver, bile duct, and pancreas cancers; and improvements in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis and liver cancer in Africa as well as in immigrant African communities in the United States.

Vincent W. Yang, MD, PhD

Yang Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY
Simmons Chair of the Department of Medicine

Dr. Yang’s research interests focus on understanding the molecular mechanisms that control proliferation and differentiation of intestinal epithelial cells and how these processes are perturbed in gastrointestinal malignancies. His clinical interest is focused on hereditary colon cancer syndromes and he works closely with national organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish genetic epidemiology of such diseases.

Housing Information

2015 Recipients


Hawa Ali
University of Minnesota-Rochester


Alicia A. Frieburg
University of Iowa


Marcos A. Lares
University of Wisconsin, Whitewater


Pierre B. Leconte
Boston College


Erick M. Marigi
University of Minnesota Medical School


Vivian Ortiz
Meharry Medical College


Luz E. Reiley
San Juan Bautista School of Medicine


Luis Vazquez-Montesino
University of Puerto Rico

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