The New Gastroenterologist

AGA News


Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) leads prior authorization reform

As a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Medicare program, Rep. DelBene has worked closely with the American Gastroenterological Association.

When Rep. DelBene was first elected to Congress in 2012, we met with her to share AGA’s policy priorities. We knew instantly that we had a voice for many of our issues. Rep. DelBene started her career as a young investigator before continuing her education and launching a career in the biotechnology industry. From her firsthand experience, she understands the need for investments in National Institutes of Health research and for access to and coverage of colorectal cancer screenings since a member of her family had the disease.

Since Rep. DelBene has been in office, she has taken the lead on several policy priorities affecting our profession, including patient access and protections and regulatory relief. Rep. DelBene is the lead Democratic sponsor of H.R. 3107, the Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act, legislation that would streamline prior authorization in Medicare Advantage plans. The legislation hit a milestone of securing 218 cosponsors in the House, which is a majority of the members. We look forward to continuing to work with Rep. DelBene on advancing AGA’s policy priorities.

Featured microbiome investigator: Josephine Ni, MD

We’re checking in with a rising star in microbiome research: Dr. Josephine Ni from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Dr. Ni is an instructor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and 2017 recipient of the AGA–Takeda Pharmaceuticals Research Scholar Award in IBD from the AGA Research Foundation.

Congrats to Dr. Ni! While Dr. Ni’s AGA Research Scholar Award concludes at the end of June 2020, we’re proud to share that she has secured two significant grants to continue her work: an NIH KO8 grant and a Burroughs Welcome Fund Award. We catch up with Dr. Ni in the Q&A below.

How would you sum up your research in one sentence?
I am interested in better understanding bacterial colonization of the healthy and inflamed intestinal tract; specifically, my current research focuses on characterizing the role of biofilm formation on intestinal colonization.

What effect do you hope your research will have on patients?
I hope that my work on understanding intestinal colonization will allow us to engineer the microbiota in predictable ways, which will pave the way to exclude enteropathogens, deliver specific compounds, and prevent dysbiosis.

What inspired you to focus your research career on the gut microbiome?
Being able to use data and observations from patient cohorts to generate research hypotheses and then translate those hypotheses into mouse models to explore mechanisms has been a very gratifying experience that I learned from my mentor, Gary Wu, MD. There is still so much to learn about the effects of the microbiome on intestinal health and I’m excited to be a part of this process.

What recent publication from your lab best represents your work if anyone wants to learn more?
Ni J et al. A role for bacterial urease in gut dysbiosis and Crohn’s disease. Sci Transl Med. 2017 Nov 15;9(416):eaah6888.


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