Message from the Chief

Having recently joined the University of Arizona as division chief, I am excited by the potential for growth and advancement within the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Most important, we are investing in our people. The division is currently reviewing faculty applicants that can continue to improve our delivery of health care to increasing numbers of patients that seek us out for treatment of a variety of liver related disorders. Our Liver Research Institute keeps us abreast of new discoveries in the treatment of liver diseases, and our excellent reputation continues to attract patients from near and far. We hope to continue to expand our transplant program and will soon be looking for additional transplant hepatologists to grow that program.

Our fellowship program in gastroenterology and hepatology has produced excellent clinicians and academicians for years. We are hoping to expand that program and increase our number of trainees in the next few years. And we anticipate the addition of a hepatology fellowship program, as our gastroenterology fellowship continues to grow and improve.

We are well into our partnership with Banner Health. As with any transition, many changes are afoot, but I anticipate an overwhelmingly positive effect on gastroenterology. Renovation is starting on the existing Endoscopy Lab. Among upgrades are two new procedure rooms, more pre- and post-procedure bays, an expanded fluoroscopy unit and new equipment. Ground also has been broken for a new inpatient hospital tower next to Banner – UMC Tucson that will provide more state-of-the-art facilities not just for gastroenterology patients, but for all patients. Lastly, a new multi-specialty clinic is planned near our cancer clinic, and additional endoscopy facilities are likely to be included.

Aside from research activity within the UA Thomas D. Boyer Liver Institute, our pancreatic-biliary group was designated a national referral center by the National Pancreas Foundation. This will assist our group in performing multi-center collaborative research related to pancreatic disorders and specifically pancreatic cancer. Research in the division as a whole continues, and the addition of new faculty is certainly going to have a positive impact on our portfolio.

As you can see, very exciting times for our division which should be especially attractive to those that want to develop into excellent clinicians and investigators. I expect to have many more positive things develop in the near future.

Juanita L. Merchant, MD, PhD
Professor of Medicine, UA Department of Medicine
Chief, Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology
Member, UA Cancer Center