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Ask the Expert: Questions and Answers About Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Ask the Expert: Questions and Answers About Inflammatory Bowel Disease

David T. Rubin, MD, is chief of the Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition and co-director of the Digestive Diseases Center.

Q. What do patients need to know about current treatment for inflammatory bowel disease?

A. The days of giving everyone the same drugs and the same therapy are going by the wayside. Today, we customize therapy to the individual patient based on such factors as the exact location of the disease, treatment history and response to medications. We want to emphasize that early intervention and effective therapy are critical to treatment success.

Q. What sets care at the University of Chicago Medicine apart?

A. Our multidisciplinary IBD team has extensive experience in accurately diagnosing and effectively treating Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Because we believe that ongoing treatment is more effective than periodic interventions for acute episodes, we continually monitor our patients’ progress and quality of life. And our center integrates compassionate patient care with innovative research.

Q. How important are clinical trials?

A. Clinical trials of new and emerging therapies potentially offer the patient a more effective treatment. At this time, we have 20 clinical trials open to our patients. When patients participate in a clinical trial, they are helping to guide our therapies and to advance the field.

Q. What’s new in IBD research?

A. Much is happening in basic, translational and clinical research for IBD. Our clinicians interact closely with immunologists, microbiologists, geneticists, pathologists and other scientists at the University of Chicago who are working in the field of digestive diseases. Current studies are looking at the many genes associated with IBD and the role of intestinal microflora in contributing to the disorder. Whatever the area of research, we all have the same goals: to develop better and more specific treatments for IBD and ultimately to prevent and cure the disease.

A version of this story originally ran in the Winter 2014 issue of Imagine, a quarterly magazine published by the University of Chicago Medicine.
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