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The gastroenterologists and surgeons within SJMHS are also leaders in clinical research. The health system allows investigators to conduct innovative research in a real-world setting. The diverse patient population and the wide range of clinical presentations facilitate investigation into a number of different areas. Active research interests include:

  • Colon cancer screening
  • Colon cancer treatment
  • Viral hepatitis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Drug-induced liver injury

Research Projects

Colon cancer screening: fecal DNA vs. endoscopic evaluation

SJMHS is one of the main institutions collaborating with the Mayo Clinic to assess the value of testing for colon cancer by screening DNA from colon cells found in stool samples. Researchers are comparing the accuracy of this methodology to hemoccult fecal blood testing, by targeting patients over 50 who require colonoscopies. Potential benefits of this DNA cancer screening are:

  • Increased accuracy for detection of gastrointestinal cancer
  • A less-invasive alternative to colonoscopies

Hepatitis C research

SJMHS is studying the severity of hepatitis C in community-based patients, and evaluating the efficacy versus effectiveness of current hepatitis C therapy.

Ongoing viral hepatitis research includes:

  • An intervention in multiple primary care clinics attempting to optimize the identification and management of patients with the disease
  • Exciting studies regarding new potential hepatitis C risk factors

This compelling research has the potential to change the perception of hepatitis C among physicians and policy makers, as well as bring lifestyle change and treatment to the large proportion of unidentified patients.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Investigators at SJMHS identified important deficits in the dosing of anti-reflux medicines. The nationwide survey demonstrated dosing patterns that would significantly decrease the benefits of these medications. This research has led to guidelines educating primary care physicians regarding these commonly used medications.

Colon cancer surgery

Colorectal surgeons at SJMHS collaborated in ground-breaking research that demonstrated the safety of laparoscopic vs. traditional colon cancer surgeries. This less-invasive approach led to decreased length of stay and shorter recovery times.

For more information about our current clinical trials and research, see Clinical Research.