Keeping Children’s Digestive Health on Track

Children with celiac and other gastrointestinal problems now have greater access to treatment with last year’s opening of the Phyllis and Ivan Seidenberg Center for Children’s Digestive Health. The center features a multidisciplinary team of specialists who care for children with both simple and complex illnesses. 

The center, located in the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, was made possible by a $15 million donation from Phyllis and Ivan Seidenberg. 

The new center has led to dramatic improvements for patients and physicians, says the team’s leader, Joel Lavine, MD, PhD, professor and vice chair of pediatrics. “Prior to this center’s opening, the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition did not have its own outpatient space to see patients, and our ability to recruit physicians to expand capacity was limited. We now have 15 expansive exam rooms; nurse practitioners and dietitians are easily accessible to patients; and we are capable of accommodating more than 25,000 patient visits per year.”

The center has recruited more specialists to provide multidisciplinary approaches in treating complex digestive problems. Recent recruits include Jennifer Woo Baidal, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, who specializes in childhood obesity; Julie Khlevner, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at CUMC and director of the Pediatric Gastrointestinal Motility Center; Sivan Kinberg, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics (in biomedical informatics) at CUMC, who directs the Pediatric Intestinal Rehabilitation Center; Ali Mencin, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at CUMC, who directs the Pediatric Fatty Liver Clinic; and Joseph Picoraro, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at CUMC, who coordinates care for inflammatory bowel disease. 

Dr. Picoraro is developing precision medicine projects to investigate the genetic causes of gastrointestinal disorders. Meenakshi Rao, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics, investigates the development of the neuro-enteric system and consequences related to motility. Arun Singh, MD, a postdoctoral clinical fellow, studies the role of epigenetics in the expression of genes implicated in celiac disease.

“The expertise available in this center is unparalleled,” Dr. Lavine says, “in terms of quality, access, and interdisciplinary care.”

The Seidenberg gift also supports center research into eradicating celiac and other digestive diseases.

Jeff Ballinger

Appointments may be requested by calling 212-305-5903.