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Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
 > Department of Paediatrics > Divisions > Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition


Dr. Anne Griffiths - Division Head

As is evident from its name, the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition is a heterogeneous one, providing subspecialty clinical care to children with a variety of intestinal, exocrine pancreatic and hepatologic disorders. The major clinical programs of the division are Hepatology (Medical Director, Dr. Simon Ling); Liver Transplantation (Medical Director, Dr. Vicky Ng); Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Medical Co-Directors, Drs. Anne Griffiths and Thomas Walters); Intestinal Rehabilitation and Transplant (Medical Director, Dr. Yaron Avitzur); Clinical Nutrition (Acting Medical Director, Dr. Paul Pencharz). Several members of the division assume leadership roles in the Transplant Center. Drs. Peter Durie and Tanja Gonska have unique expertise in exocrine pancreatic disease, including cystic fibrosis, where they work closely with colleagues in the Division of Respiratory Medicine. Diagnostic and interventional endoscopic procedures are performed by the majority of divisional faculty, supported by a superb team of procedural nurses and by colleagues from the renowned St. Michael’s Hospital endoscopy program, Drs. Gary May and Paul Kortan.  

Of the division’s current 14 faculty, six are Clinician-Scientists with appointments in the Research Institute as Senior Scientists or Scientists. Three are Cinician-Investigators with Research Institute appointments as Associate Scientists. Foci of research within the Division include basic science studies in IBD genes and their function (Drs. Aleixo Muise and Nicola Jones); developmental liver disease (Dr. Binita Kamath); microbiology of gastrointestinal disease (Drs. Philip Sherman and Nicola Jones); nutrition (Dr. Paul Pencharz); exocrine pancreatic disease (Drs. Peter Durie and Tanja Gonska); international health and nutrition (Dr. Stanley Zlotkin). In each of its programs, the division aims to integrate clinical care and research. The IBD, Hepatology, and Liver Transplant programs participate actively and/or lead in translational research, multi-center clinical trials, and inception cohort studies. 

The division, while diverse, is united in the goal of providing superb subspecialty fellowship training. The current director of the Royal College accredited fellowship training program is Dr. Simon Ling. As one of the earliest established training programs in pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition, the Sickkids/University of Toronto program has a long and rich history of preparing talented pediatricians, often from other countries, for academic careers that encompass research. Many graduates have assumed high-ranking leadership positions around the world, and/or excelled as Clinician-Scientists and Clinical-Investigators, contributing to the program’s international reputation for excellence. The caliber and camaraderie of Canadian and international fellows, numbering usually 12 at any given time, as they provide clinical care and undertake training in basic science or patient-based research, is truly a highlight of the Division.  

History

The Division of Gastroenterology was first established in the 1960's, under the able leadership of Drs. Andrew Sass-Kortsak and Richard Hamilton and quickly emerged as a world-class, academically and research-focused sub-specialty. The Division of Clinical Nutrition was formed in 1978 with the recruitment of Dr. Paul Pencharz, who established clinical nutrition as a medical/surgical discipline at Sickkids, and promoted the development of a clinically strong and academically grounded group of dieticians within the Hospital for Sick Children Department of Nutritional Sciences. The two divisions adopted an “integrated” academic model with combined clinical, educational and academic goals and objectives; thus, the former Division Chiefs of each division assumed combined responsibilities under the umbrella of the Department of Paediatrics and the Research Institute.

The two divisions were amalgamated in 1993 as the Division of Gastroenterology/Nutrition under the leadership of Dr. Peter Durie, who led the division between 1993 and 1998. As the care of childre with liver diseases, including those requiring care post-transplant, became an increasingly important part of the subspecialty, the name of the division was appropriately changed to Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. Dr. Stanley Zlotkin, a clinical nutritionist, was Head of the multi-faceted division for two five-year terms between 1998 and 2008, and was suceeded in July 2008 by the current Head, Dr. Anne Griffiths.



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