Discovering New Approaches to the Greatest Medical Challenges

At the University of Chicago Medicine's Center for Endoscopic Research and Therapeutics (CERT), we are pioneering new techniques and tools to advance the diagnosis and treatment of many conditions, including Barrett's esophagus, esophageal cancer, biliary disorders, pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and colon cancer.

Our practice is shaped by an ongoing commitment to discovery and innovation in gastrointestinal interventional endoscopy. We strive to integrate state-of-the-art clinical care with leading-edge research, which helps us continually discover new approaches to the greatest medical challenges.

Research Programs

As a leader in endoscopic research, our physician-scientists are involved in the development of laboratory research programs and clinical trials. We collaborate with our clinical partners in surgery, pathology and oncology to establish new standards of care. We routinely use confocal laser endomicroscopy, which is a tool for real-time imaging of the GI tract. This gives us a detailed picture of internal organs and, in turn, allows us to better care for Barrett's esophagus, pancreatic cysts and indeterminate strictures of the bile duct. In addition, we sample blood from the portal vein to capture circulating tumor cells. We investigate these circulating tumor cells to explore more information about pancreatic cancer and to develop better strategies for therapy.

Clinical Studies and Trials

At the Center for Endoscopic Research and Therapeutics, we commit to innovation and learning through our participation in clinical trials. Our studies range from pilot and feasibility studies on novel technologies to randomized, multi-center clinical trials. With more ongoing clinical trials than any other hospital in Illinois, we give our patients access to novel treatments and therapies that often aren't available elsewhere.

A few goals of our current multi-center clinical trials include:

  • Improving detection of precancerous cells in Barrett's esophagus
  • Optimizing resection of large colon polyps
  • Improving drainage methods for the treatment of fluid collections

MERIT (Multi-Center ESG Randomized Interventional Trial)

Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty (ESG) is an endoscopic minimally invasive weight loss procedure where a commercially available, FDA approved, full-thickness endoscopic suturing device is used to reduce the stomach volume by eighty percent through the creation of a restrictive endoscopic sleeve. The ESG procedure has been performed clinically for three years in the United States. Investigators are completing this study to compare how effective the ESG is for achieving long-term weight loss when compared to lifestyle modification only, as well as to evaluate the long-term safety and durability of the procedure and its impact on quality of life.

Learn more about the MERIT clinical trial

BURN (Eradicating Barrett’s Esophagus Using Radiofrequency Ablation or a Novel Hybrid Argon Plasma Coagulation Technique

Barrett's Esophagus can be the starting point for the development of cancer (esophageal adenocarcinoma). Currently, there is evidence that this change is initiated by acid reflux from the stomach which then could progress in a stepwise manner. Surgery is considered the standard therapy for this cancer which involves the risk of death and complications with quality of life impairments.

New possibilities for treatment have evolved with endoscopic therapies which allow for treatment of early changes prior to the occurrence of cancer. Currently radiofrequency ablation (RFA) has been suggested as the standard therapy for BE treatment. Although effective, the re-appearance of Barrett’s epithelium and the occurrence of complications such as strictures causing swallowing impairments for food have also been observed. A recently developed method is Hybrid APC® which combines argon plasma coagulation (APC) with a fluid injection function by a water beam. The water beam allows to establish a fluid right beneath the Barrett’s prior to thermal ablation thereby protecting the esophagus wall from heat during ablation of epithelium with APC. The goal of this randomized controlled study is to investigate if HAPC is non-inferior to RFA in the stricture-free eradication of the dysplastic BE epithelium.

Learn more about the BURN clinical trial

EndoRotor DEN (Direct Endoscopic Necrosectomy)

Infected walled of pancreatic necrosis (WOPN) is a complication of acute pancreatitis. Direct endoscopic intervention is a means to remove the necrosis and improve patient recovery. The EndoRotor® Endoscopic Resection System is an automated mechanical endoscopic resection system for use in the gastrointestinal tract for benign neoplastic or pre-malignant tissue removal by interventional gastroenterologists and GI surgeons. It performs both tissue dissection and resection with a motorized rotating cutting tool driven by an electronically controlled console. Because the system automatically suctions and cuts between 1000 and 1750 times a minute, resected tissue is immediately aspirated away from the resection site and collected.

Learn more about the EndoRoter DEN clinical trial