Skip to main content


Kerri Boutelle, PhD performs research focusing on the causes, characterization, prevention and treatment of childhood, adolescent and adult obesity and eating disorders. Overarching research objectives include investigating the role of familial factors in the etiology, prevention, and treatment of obesity and eating disorders in youth, utilizing principles of basic behavioral science to inform and improve treatments for obesity and eating disorders; and determining intervention and prevention strategies aimed at changing the trajectory of weight and eating disorders in children and adolescents. In ongoing studies, Dr. Boutelle hopes to identify innovative and cost-effective treatment strategies for obese children (parent-only treatments), to develop new treatments based on basic behavioral research for children who binge eat (self-regulation treatments), and to disseminate current behavioral treatment through innovative methods (guided self-help, computer-based guidance for primary care physicians). Dr. Boutelle’s clinical interests lie in the treatment of childhood and adolescent obesity and eating disorders, and the concomitant depression, anxiety, oppositional, personality, behavioral and family changes that occur with eating-related difficulties. Her clinical work is grounded in empirically based cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal and family-based treatments, and she provides and supervises individual, group and family therapy. 

Lillian Choi, MD has special interests in pediatric gastroenterology that include functional abdominal pain. She was an active co-investigator of a pilot open-labeled trial investigating the effectiveness of SAM-e for the treatment of Functional Abdominal Pain (FAP) in children. Dr. Choi is also the Director of Endoscopy. Her goals are to maximize quality and patient safety. This includes regularly updating the endoscopy suite in regards to the latest endoscopic technologies and procedural equipment, and to expand the repertoire of endoscopic procedures available to patients which will allow for more efficient, more therapeutic, and most importantly, more reliable and safer care for patients. She has instituted regular and iterative quality improvement evaluations regarding the procedural service to ensure excellent patient care and comfort. 

Ranjan Dohil, MB, BcH ‘s research interest has included eosinophilic esophagitis in childhood and gastrointestinal manifestations of cystinosis. He has been awarded grants from the Hearst and the Cystinosis Research Foundation which have allowed him to study different aspects of these diseases. Data accrued from studies of the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of cysteamine bitartrate in children with cystinosis were used to develop a new formulation of cysteamine which patients could tolerate better (fewer GI symptoms) and required twice-daily rather than every 6 hour ingestion. On April 2013 the new delayed and extended-release formulation of cysteamine (RP103 or ProcystbiTM), developed at UCSD along with Raptor Pharmaceuticals, was FDA approved and will now be commercially available for the treatment of cystinosis. The new drug has already been shown in the long-term studies to improve the quality of life for many of these patients. An article about the development of Procysbi was recently published in the New York Times. Following the development of RP103 a number of multicenter studies have been started using this drug in the treatment of NAFLD and Huntington’s disease. 

metabolic disruption resulting in insulin resistance and hepatic lipid accumulation during weight gain. At the translational level, Dr. Feldstein has pioneered the role of examining cytokeratin-18 fragments as biomarkers for liver injury in NASH. This marker is currently considered the most promising non-invasive test for liver injury in patients with NASH. His laboratory routinely utilizes a variety of in vivo and in vitro experimental models in various projects on the basic mechanisms involved in steatosis and NASH development as well as an array of mass spectrometry based approaches (LC/ESI/MS/MS, proteomics) directed toward translational studies to identify mechanism-based disease biomarkers. Dr. Feldstein’s lab offers a unique environment for fellows in the gastroenterology training program combining significant clinical and translational endeavors with substantial basic research opportunities.

M. Abigail Garcia, MD receives funding from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to research gastrointestinal manifestations of cystic fibrosis. Dr. Garcia focuses on understanding the patho-physiological basis of cystic fibrosis (CF). Her research aims to understand the consequences of diminished bicarbonate transport in CF and how this affects development of mucoviscidosis. She has shown that bicarbonate is essential for optimal mucus secretion in mouse models, and that bicarbonate deficiency inhibits intestinal mucus release. She is further investigating the mechanisms behind this finding to provide an effective treatment option to CF patients who suffer from distal intestinal obstruction syndrome or chronic constipation. 

Jeannie Huang, MD, MPH is a member of the Center for Wireless & Population Health Systems, which is a body of investigators whose work focuses on the creative use of networked technologies and ubiquitous computing to improve population health ( Dr. Huang has led and currently collaborates on several highly innovative health intervention projects addressing personal health behaviors and public health issues, including Texting to promote Adolescent Health Liaisons and Communication (TAHLC), a technology (website + SMS)-based intervention for adolescents with chronic disease to increase health-related self-efficacy and healthcare engagement among adolescents with chronic disease as they prepare for their transition to adult care; Fit4Life, a technology-based weight management program among children who have survived acute lymphoblastic leukemia; and SMART: A Social and Mobile Weight Control Program for Young Adults, that utilizes the Facebook platform to deliver a weight management program to obese young adults. Dr. Huang also is PI of a state-of-the-art NIH-funded project with Dr. Bartlett in the School of Engineering using facial recognition technologies to evaluate pain expressions in children with clinical pain. Finally, she is a co-investigator in two NSF-funded projects with Drs. Patrick and Tilak from the Qualcomm Institute of Technology at UCSD evaluating how cloud data processing may be used to provide real-time clinical feedback for real world health sensor data.

Dr. Huang, who is the Director of the UCSD Pediatric Gastroenterology and Hepatology Fellowship, has also been and currently is involved in a number of national medical education efforts, including the award-winning Health and Obesity: Prevention and Education project. She is the Chair of the NASPGHAN Maintenance of Certification Task Force and currently leads a number of national quality improvement projects targeting both clinical and procedural issues.

Kimberly Newton, MD serves as the Director of the Celiac Disease Clinic at Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego. This clinic is one of fewer than 5 clinics in the western United States dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of celiac disease in children. Once diagnosed, children are followed closely to ensure adaptation and adherence to the gluten-free diet, and to monitor growth and other nutritional parameters over time. The clinic currently cares for over 220 children with celiac disease. Dr. Newton has recently participated in a national working group, which is currently developing Best Practices expert consensus statement pertaining to management of celiac disease in children. She has also been actively engaged in numerous outreach and educational activities including the formation of a new pediatric celiac disease support group, Kickstart. In addition to celiac disease, Dr. Newton’s clinical focus has broadened to include

hepatology, and she is currently the Interim Medical Director of the Pediatric Liver Transplant Program at RCHSD, and is also co-investigator in several clinical research studies investigating pediatric nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Jeffrey Schwimmer, MD is Director of the Weight and Wellness Center, a multi-disciplinary program for the evaluation and treatment child and adolescent obesity at RCHSD. Dr. Schwimmer’s research emphasis is on the complications of obesity, both metabolic and behavioral. Dr. Schwimmer also Director of the Fatty Liver Clinic at RCHSD, the first clinic in the U.S. dedicated to the care of children with fatty liver disease. Fatty liver is now the most common cause of chronic liver disease in children. Dr. Schwimmer’s research includes the development and validation of non-invasive imaging for diagnosis, clinical trials for the treatment of steatohepatitis in children, and the role of the intestinal microbial environment in susceptibility to fatty liver. 

Mamata Sivagnanam, MD research focuses on congenital tufting enteropathy. This is a severe and life-threatening problem presenting with intractable diarrhea in infancy. Using modern genetic technology, Dr. Sivagnanam isolated epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) as a gene associated responsible for this condition. She focuses on the effect it has on intestinal epithelial physiology. She hopes to gain a better understanding of the role of adhesion molecules in intestinal epithelial development in health and disease. 

Elizabeth L. Yu, MD completed her pediatric GI fellowship at Rady Children’s hospital/UCSD (’12) and joined the GI division. Her research focuses on Histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) mediated hepato-protective effects on nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and attenuation of obesity-induced metabolic dysfunction. As current therapy for NASH is lifestyle modification through diet and exercise, the eventual goal is to have a clinical application for HDACis in treatment of NASH.