Fellowship Program History: Division of Gastroenterology

From the Beginning

Georgetown University opened its Medical Department in 1851, shortly after the end of the Mexican War and near the end of James Polk’s U.S. Presidency.  By 1912 Gastroenterology was being taught separately at Georgetown as a specialty. Dr. Irving Brick was recruited as a permanent faculty member and chief of Gastroenterology in 1948 and performed the first percutaneous liver biopsies in the Washington area. By 1954, GI faculty member James Foster was supervising a medical subspecialty fellow. During the mid 20th century, the VA and DC General Hospitals were helpful in creating GI fellowships. In particular, the VA gave research grants to support fellows and its central budget also financed clinical fellowships. An initial Georgetown collaboration with NIH on a clinical study unit in 1961 was later followed by a long-time contractual relationship in which NIH Research fellows received clinical training as GI fellows at Georgetown and Georgetown provided clinical coverage for the Gastroenterology service at NIH. This relationship with NIH ended in 2004.

The Modern Era

In 1984, Stanley B. Benjamin, M.D. was appointed Chief of Gastroenterology and Director of the Gastroenterology Fellowship Program. Under his leadership Gastroenterology evolved state-of-the-art evaluation and therapy options for patients with biliary and pancreatic disease. Procedures now include Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography, Electrohydraulic Lithotripsy and Sphincter of Oddi manometry. Today, the GI faculty also excel at the use of endoscopic ultrasonography (EUS) to evaluate submucosal lesions, stage neoplasms and guide endoscopic therapy. Recent advancements have been employed to evaluate esophageal diseases using comprehensive manometric, pH and anorectal motility studies. Georgetown faculty were among the first to use a catheter-free pH monitoring system involving a capsule attached to the esophageal wall to transmit data to a pager-sized receiver, thus eliminating uncomfortable 24-hour trans-nasal catheters. A hallmark of today’s Gastroenterology program is its multi-specialty collaboration with other disciplines. For example, fellows take part in collaborative conferences with the medical and surgical oncology service of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Evaluation and treatment modalities make use of endoscopic ultrasound, Argon laser plasma coagulation and endoscopic stents. GI faculty and fellows also work with the Transplant Institute and International Center for Liver Diseases at Georgetown University Hospital to manage chronic liver conditions and perform liver transplant procedures, as well as small bowel transplants.

GI Fellowship Program

Georgetown enjoys a partnership with the Washington VA Hospital in offering a GI fellowship program that includes clinical and investigative work involving GI and hepatology. The primary goal is training consultative gastroenterologists, and most graduates do go into private practice. Nevertheless, a number of our graduates have chosen careers in academic medicine.

In 2004, Dr. Benjamin was succeeded as Director of the GI Fellowship Program by Nadim G. Haddad, M.D., a 1994 GI fellowship graduate of Georgetown. Dr. Haddad has revamped the curriculum to include elective rotations in Radiology & Oncology, Transplant Hepatology, Pediatric Gastroenterology and Inflammatory Bowel Disease & Motility Studies. 

For many years MedStar Georgetown University Hospital has enjoyed a partnership with the Washington, DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center in providing clinical and research opportunities. In 2013, Dr. Haddad was succeeded as Director of the Gastroenterology Fellowship Program by Kathy Bull-Henry, M.D. a graduate of the program’s Advanced Endoscopy Fellowship. In July 2015, during Dr. Bull-Henry’s tenure, the fellowship integrated regionally expanding from two hospitals to three hospitals, from 12 fellows to 18 fellows. In June 2017, Mark Mattar, M.D. was appointed to Director of the Gastroenterology Fellowship Program. The faculty has also grown and now has over 20 full-time members including physicians from MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, the Washington, DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and MedStar Washington Hospital Center.