Department of Pediatrics Annual Report – 2020

Clinician examines abdomen of child patient using ultrasound

Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition

Bench to bedside management of GI disorders and liver disease

The Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition provides comprehensive patient care for a broad range of gastrointestinal, nutritional, and liver disorders. We strive for excellence in clinical care, research, and teaching and maintain a group of physician-scientists who are committed to advancing the frontiers of our field.

Clinical Services

Our multidisciplinary team of providers, the largest program of its kind in the tristate area, maintains robust procedural, outpatient, and inpatient clinical services and offers cutting-edge diagnostic and therapeutic modalities, including advanced endoscopic procedures and motility testing.

We are recognized for providing seamless collaborations with other pediatric specialists, including surgeons, pulmonologists, cardiologists, clinical geneticists, speech and language pathologists, dietitians, social workers, and child life specialists. Our integrated approach provides comprehensive, innovative pediatric programs and centers in:


Our faculty are leaders in clinical, translational, and basic gastrointestinal research. With robust funding and one of the most active research programs in the nation, our physicians continue to expand our understanding of childhood digestive disorders and transform research advances into patient care, and we offer our patients access to the latest treatments through many exclusive clinical trials.

The division receives numerous extramural grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense for individual research endeavors. In addition, faculty hold a number of independent and mentored research awards, including R- and K-level NIH awards, and awards from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, CTRI Pilot Awards, and the Doris Duke Foundation. There are numerous internal research cores with pending P30 and P50 grants that include members of our division.

Our faculty publish in a range of scientific journals, including Journal of the American Medical Association, New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of Clinical Investigation, The Lancet, and Nature, and serve on highly regarded editorial boards, committees, and councils. The division includes more MD-PhD physician-scientists than any other pediatric gastroenterology program.


Through the Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition fellowship, we provide a broad clinical experience in outpatient and inpatient medicine, extensive procedural training, and in-depth didactics. Fellows participate in basic, clinical, or translational investigative research and produce high-quality projects under the dedicated supervision of an established faculty mentor. The majority of our fellows are supported by extramural funding, including a National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) T32 Training Grant in Gastroenterology and the prestigious NIDDK-supported K12 Physician Scientist Development Program.

New Appointments

New Programs

Obesity Initiative: A multidisciplinary program providing unparalleled support to our diverse community, patients and families, and professionals in interdisciplinary clinical, research, and educational endeavors. The program will serve as a platform for collaborative research and practice, including testing of pediatric obesity prevention and treatment interventions. Director: Jennifer Woo Baidal, MD, MPH (left); Associate Clinical Director: John Rausch, MD, MPH; Associate Research Director: Elena Ladas, PhD, RD.

Eosinophilic Esophagitis/Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders Program: This multidisciplinary program offers the highest quality care of children and families with eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders using the latest evidence-based advances, state of the art procedures for diagnosis and management, and offers consideration for participating in clinical trials for treatment of these disorders. This program integrates collaborative research efforts and clinical practice to advance the care of children and young adults living with eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders.

Honors and Awards

Neal LeLeiko, MD, PhD

  • Distinguished Service Award from North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition, 2019

Dominique Bailey, MD

  • AGA FORWARD Program Scholar, 2019-2020
  • CEGIR Trainee Scholar, 2018

Mercedes Martinez, MD

  • Selected as NASPGHAN Chair of the Hepatology Committee

Elizabeth Berg, MD

  • Oberfield Prize in Basic Clinical Science, Pediatric Fellows Poster Day, 2019

Amir Jayazeri, MD (fellow)

  • Silverman Award from NYP, which promotes training and excellence in quality assurance (QA)

Laurence Feinstein, MD (fellow)

  • Oberfield Prize in Basic Science, 2018
  • Distinguished Abstract, Disease Week, 2018

Sarah Lusman, MD

  • Top Doctors New York Metro Area (digital guide), 2020
  • Moffly Media Magazines/Fairfield County, 2019, 2020
  • Exceptional Women In Medicine, 2019

Major Grants

  • Study of drug in patients 1-16 years of age with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Pfizer. Principal Investigator: Joseph Picoraro, MD.
  • Study of new medical therapy for pediatric Crohn's disease or pediatric ulcerative colitis. Takeda. Investigator: Joseph Picoraro, MD.
  • Role of the enteric neuronal development in intestinal inflammation, NIH/NIDDK; K08DK093786. Principal Investigator: Kara Gross-Margolis, MD.
  • Defining the role of the 5-HT4 receptor in the brain, behavior and gut abnormalities resulting from in utero SSRI exposure. Department of Defense. Principal Investigators: Kara Gross-Margolis, MD/Mark Ansorge, PhD.
  • Microenvironment in enteric neuron development. NIH/NINDS; RO1NS015547-35A1. Principal Investigator: Kara Gross-Margolis, MD/Michael Gershon, MD.
  • Defining the role of SERT in brain, behavior and gut abnormalities resulting from in utero SSRI exposure. Department of Defense. Investigator: Kara Gross Margolis, MD/Mark Ansorge, MD.
  • Development of biomarkers of operational tolerance in pediatric liver transplantation.  Nelson Family Transplant Innovation Award. Principal Investigator: Mercedes Martinez, MD.
  • Social determinants of health, obesity, and COVID-19 in New York City. Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Principal Investigator: Jennifer Woo Baidal, MD, MPH.
  • LINC: Leveraging IT for Neighborhoods in Childhood. National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). Principal Investigator: Jennifer Woo Baidal, MD, MPH.

Selected Publications

Mallon D, Pohl JF, Phatak UP, Fernandes M, Rosen JM, Lusman SS, Nylund CM, Jump CS, Solomon AB, Srinath A, Singer A, Harb R, Rodriguez-Baez N, Buren KLWV, Koyfman S, Bhatt R, Rodriguez DMS, Sivagnanam M, Lee CK; NASPGHAN Training Committee COVID-19 Survey Working Group. Impact of COVID-19 on pediatric gastroenterology fellow training in North America. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2020 Apr 30. [Epub ahead of print]

Abramov A, Fan W, Hernan R, Zenilman AL, Wynn J, Aspelund G, Khlevner J, Krishnan U, Lim FY, Mychaliska GB, Warner BW, Cusick R, Crombleholme T, Chung D, Danko ME, Wagner AJ, Azarow K, Schindel D, Potoka D, Soffer S, Fisher J, McCulley D, Farkouh-Karoleski C, Chung WK, Duron VJ. Comparative outcomes of right versus left congenital diaphragmatic hernia: A multicenter analysis. Pediatr Surg. 2020 Jan; 55(1): 33-38.

Qiao L, Wynn J, Yu L, Hernan R, Zhou X, Duron V, Aspelund G, Farkouh-Karoleski C, Zygumunt A, Krishnan US, Nees S, Khlevner J, Lim FY, Crombleholme T, Cusick R, Azarow K, Danko ME, Chung D, Warner BW, Mychaliska GB, Potoka D, Wagner AJ, Soffer S, Schindel D, McCulley DJ, Shen Y, Chung WK. Likely damaging de novo variants in congenital diaphragmatic hernia patients are associated with worse clinical outcomes. Genet Med. 2020 Jul 28.

Miller J, Cantor A, Zachariah P, Ahn D, Martinez M, Margolis KG. Gastrointestinal symptoms as a major presentation component of a novel multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) that is related to COVID-19: a single center experience of 44 cases. Gastroenterology. Published online: 2020 June 4. **highlighted as a feature article on the AAP website

Cheung E, Zachariah P, Gorelik M, Boneparth A, Kernie S, Orange J, Milner J. Additional contributors: Johnson C, Gross-Margolis K, Lytrivi I, Chan A, Jonat B. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome related to COVID-19 in previously healthy children and adolescents in New York City. JAMA. Published online: 2020 June 8.

Hainz N, Griesemer A, Kinney J, Vittorio J, Lagana S, Goldner D, Velasco M, Kato T, Lobritto S, *Martinez M. A case of an infant with SARS-CoV-2 hepatitis early after liver transplantation. Pediatr Transplantation. 2020 Jun 19. PMID: 32559354.

Acker JP, Borlack R, Iuga A, Remotti HE, Soderquist C, Okada S, Tsumura M, Casanova JL, Picoraro JA, Puel A, Kinberg S, Demirdag YY. Ruxolitinib response in an infant with very-early-onset inflammatory bowel disease and gain-of-function STAT1 mutation. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2020 Jul 28. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000002854.

Berg EA, Picoraro JA, Miller SD, Srinath A, Franciosi JP, Hayes CE, Farrell PR, Cole CR, LeLeiko NS. COVID-19 – A guide to rapid implementation of telehealth services: A playbook for the pediatric gastroenterologist. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2020 Jun; 70(6): 734-740.


Leading IBD Experts Join Columbia

Two leading experts in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)—one in adult care and the other in pediatric care—have been named to positions at Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.


Columbia Pediatricians Join NYC Health Equity Initiative

In New York City, children from low-income neighborhoods have higher rates of asthma and obesity compared to kids from wealthier neighborhoods. Two pediatricians at Columbia University were recently selected to join a citywide initiative to help reduce those disparities. 


To Lower Childhood Obesity, Don’t Sugarcoat the Facts about Sweet Drinks

A new study at Columbia University suggests that giving mothers plain facts about the health risks of consuming sugary drinks during pregnancy and early childhood may offer a new strategy to reduce childhood obesity.


Giving Pain a Voice

Kara Gross Margolis, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, explains a new questionnaire she developed to enable caregivers to better identify and alleviate GI pain in non-verbal children with ASD.

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