The goal of this program is to leverage the physiology and psychology expertise and the current resources available at Northwestern University to train predoctoral students in Biomedical Engineering and Psychology and MD and PhD postdoctoral trainees in Gastroenterology, Surgery and Psychology for careers focused on research in functional foregut disorders. The study of functional and motor foregut disorders is complicated and requires a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates an understanding of the mechanical, physiological and inflammatory aspects of gastrointestinal tract function and the cognitive and psychosocial factors that alter symptom response. This training program will build on the successful integration of the Esophageal Center and Center for Psychosocial Research at Northwestern University and also utilize resources from current collaborations with the Center for Healthcare Studies, the Cognitive Brain Mapping Group and translational research colleagues in Allergy-Immunology and Pathology. The fellowship in Gastroenterology and Hepatology, residency program in Surgery and the graduate programs in Engineering and Psychology attract top-notch applicants for these training positions. Each trainee will work with both a primary research mentor and a co-mentor, which will foster interaction between research and clinical faculty and enhance the collaborative aspects of the trainee's research experience. A training program consisting of structured research and mentorship that combines a Master of Science in Clinical Investigation or Public Health degee, seminars, career development programs, and education in the ethical conduct of research has been developed to promote excellence in research focused on functional foregut disorders. We propose to fund one highly qualified predoctoral student and one highly qualified postdoctoral MD or PhD trainee per year for a two-year intensive research experience. Thus, our program will have 4 trainees at steady-state and currently we have the interest from prospective applicants and commitment from our potential mentors, departments and university to support this program.
Understanding how gastrointestinal function and psychosocial stress interact to cause symptoms is crucial in developing treatment strategies for the large number of patients suffering with these complaints. This program in gastrointestinal physiology and psychology will provide training for investigators capable of integrating these disciplines to develop a better understanding of how these problems are caused and how they can be treated.