UChicago Medicine earns prestigious pancreas center designation

UChicago Medicine earns prestigious pancreas center designation

Academic medical center is only Illinois facility to receive National Pancreas Foundation honor

September 4, 2015

The University of Chicago Medicine has been named a National Pancreas Foundation Center, one of only 30 facilities in the country to receive the prestigious designation from the health advocacy group.

The National Pancreas Foundation (NPF), a nonprofit group that works to provide education and hope for patients with pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer, created the NPF Center designation in order to help patients find high-quality, multidisciplinary care. Designated centers also seek to advance research and lead the way for heightened awareness and understanding of pancreatitis and related conditions among community physicians, allied health professionals, patients, families and the general public.

"Patients with pancreatic disorders need comprehensive care provided by a multidisciplinary and integrated team of experts," said Andres Gelrud, MD, an associate professor of medicine and director of the University of Chicago Medicine's Center for Pancreatic Disorders. "We're particularly proud to be recognized as one of the nation's premier health care facilities for treating these patients and helping them improve their quality of life."

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas caused by an activation of digestive enzymes inside the organ. Treatments are geared toward helping the pancreas recover from inflammation, preventing problems with other organs such as the kidneys and lungs, and reducing pain and other symptoms.

Approved NPF Centers had to go through an extensive auditing process and meet the criteria developed by a task force made up of clinical specialists and patient advocates. The criteria included having required expert physician specialties, along with more patient-focused programs such as a pain management, psychosocial support and more.

"Having the NPF Center designation will help distinguish institutions whose focus is on patient-centered care either for the treatment of their disease or to get an expert second opinion," said Christopher E. Forsmark, MD, a Florida physician who was on the NPF Center Task Force that chose the 30 Centers.

The UChicago Medicine pancreatic disease care team includes physicians from a variety of specialties, including gastroenterology, interventional endoscopy, surgery, oncology, radiology, pathology, pain management and genetics. It also extends to include highly trained nurses, genetic counselors and nutritionists. These specialists are recognized leaders in pancreatic disease care, and can offer diagnostic and treatment options that are not available at most hospitals.

UChicago Medicine is one of only a handful of centers in the nation to offer comprehensive surgical options for pancreatitis, including islet autotransplantation. This specialized procedure is performed by Jeffrey B. Matthews, MD, chairman of the Department of Surgery, and Piotr Witkowski, MD, PhD, director of the Pancreatic and Islet Transplant program. Clinicians also perform sophisticated minimally invasive procedures that can provide a more thorough diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, chronic pancreatitis and other complex problems.

Researchers at the medical center are also working to discover new treatments for digestive diseases through the Digestive Disease Research Core Center, one of a dozen such NIH-supported research programs in the nation.

UChicago Medicine is the only NPF Center in Illinois, Indiana or Wisconsin. It's also ranked among the best cancer (#34) and gastrointestinal disorders (#25) programs in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report. Other NPF Centers include Johns Hopkins Medicine, the Mayo Clinic, New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and Brigham and Women's Hospital among others. A complete list of NPF Centers is available here.

About the University of Chicago Medicine
The University of Chicago Medicine & Biological Sciences is one of the nation's leading academic medical institutions. It comprises the Pritzker School of Medicine, a top 10 medical school in the nation; the University of Chicago Biological Sciences Division; and the University of Chicago Medical Center, which recently opened the Center for Care and Discovery, a $700 million specialty medical facility. Twelve Nobel Prize winners in physiology or medicine have been affiliated with the University of Chicago Medicine.

About The National Pancreas Foundation
Founded in 1997, the National Pancreas Foundation provides hope for those suffering from pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer through funding cutting-edge research, advocating for new and better therapies and providing support and education for patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals. The NPF is the only foundation dedicated to patients suffering from all forms of pancreas disease. For more information visit: www.pancreasfoundation.org.