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2016 AGA – Rome Foundation Research Award Recipient


Principle Investigator: Ans Pauwels, MPharmSC, PhD

Post-Doctoral Fellow
University of Leuven

Dr. Pauwels received her MS in pharmacology and PhD in experimental biology from Katholeike Universiteit Leuven. She works with Jan Tack, MD, PhD, and Lukas van Oudenhove, PhD. Her primary interests include roles of visceral pain hypersensitivity and psychological symptoms in etiology of refractory GERD.

Title: Is refractory gastro-esophageal reflux disease a disease spanning the organic-functional spectrum?

GERD may be a spectrum disease, with erosive esophagitis due to excess acid on one end and patients with FH due to visceral hypersensitivity on the other end. Psychological co-morbidities may also influence symptom severity in refractory GERD by interfering with esophageal sensitivity. First, we will perform multimodal esophageal stimulation and investigate mucosal integrity. Secondly, we will specifically investigate psychological co-morbidities and its association with symptom perception and severity. Thirdly, we will study the interaction between central and peripheral mechanisms involved in esophageal sensitivity. The goal is to develop individualized treatment strategies by identifying different mechanisms in subgroups of GERD patients.

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