UNC Online Symposium for Health Professionals “Treating IBS Effectively” on November 2, 2013

October 27, 2013

The University of North Carolina Center for Functional GI and Motility Disorders has announced that it will be offering  real-time online access to its on-site continuing medical education symposium, “How to Treat IBS Effectively.” The full day event will take place on Saturday, November 2, 2013 from 8:00 a.m-5.45 pm. Registrants may participate in the full event or specific sessions of interest to them. The symposium will be conducted by leading experts in irritable bowel syndrome at UNC and other major institutions in the field of functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders.

Topics will include the latest scientific information on the etiology of IBS, presented by William Whitehead, MD of UNC, the doctor-patient relationship presented by Douglas Drossman, MD, president of the Rome Foundation, pharmacological treatment options, presented by William Chey, MD of the University of Michigan and Lin Chang, MD of UCLA,  probiotics, antibiotics and diet. presented by Magnus Simren, MD of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and Sheila Crowe, MD of the University of Virginia, and effective psychological interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy, gut-directed hypnotherapy and mindfulness and relaxation, presented by Jeffrey Lackner, PsyD of the University at Buffalo/State University of New York, Olafur Palsson, PsyD of UNC, and Laurie Keefer, PhD of Northwestern. Dr Drossman, Dr Whitehead  and Dr. Chang will also conduct a session on appropriately using the Rome criteria for diagnosis of IBS, and on the revisions to the criteria that are currently under development for Rome IV.

For those who attend the symposium online and who do not need certificates of attendance or CME/CEU credits, the event is offered by UNC free of charge. You will receive full access to the sessions and resources over a  real-time video feed, be able to download a book of numerous symposium handouts on IBS geared toward treating medical professionals, and have the opportunity to submit questions online to be answered during the panel discussions in each session, equivalent to those who attend in person in Chapel Hill. Registration is required by Wednesday, October 30, 2013 on the following page:


The link above includes further links to the full schedule. Other questions can be directed to Stefanie at sjeremia@med.unc.edu Please note that for participants who do require certificates of attendance or CME/CEU credits for this symposium, UNC asks that you register through the Charlotte Area Health Education Center on the following page for a small fee.


IBS Impact encourages medical and mental health professionals to attend. We thank the UNC Center for Functional GI and Motility Disorders for its long commitment to making state of the science, expert patient and professional education more widely accessible worldwide through online technology, and all of the presenters for their long years of clinical care, research and education in moving the field forward and improving the lives of people with functional GI disorders like IBS. It is in our interest as a community of people with IBS to support the continuing medical education of professionals who may provide treatment to us or others with IBS.

IBS Wellbeing Day in Sheffield, UK November 16, 2013 To Feature Resources and Narratives of IBS

October 23, 2013

The IBS Network, formerly The Gut Trust, which is the national charity for people with irritable bowel syndrome in England and Wales has announced that it will hold this year’s annual IBS Wellbeing Day in Sheffield on Saturday, November 16, 2013. According to the organization’s website and social  media, attendees may drop in anytime from 10:30 a.m, to  4:00 pm for seminars and workshops on IBS, IBS management and diet, relaxation sessions, consultations to ask questions of experts in IBS, as well as a wide range of exhibitors. All activities are free of charge. To see the official announcement and exact location of  the IBS Wellbeing Day, as well as further updates as the date approaches, click the following link.


One interesting local resource that reports it will be among the exhibitors on that day is Storying Sheffield’s Knowing as Healing project. Storying Sheffield is itself an ongoing initiative of the University of Sheffield aimed at telling the stories of the diverse groups of people and identities found in the city of Sheffield. Knowing as Healing describes itself as a participatory research project that pairs medical students with people with IBS who have agreed to share narratives of living with IBS.  The lead individual on the Knowing as Healing team is Vicky Grant, who, the Storying Sheffield site states, has herself lived with irritable bowel syndrome for over 30 years. As stated in a recent post on the Storying Sheffield site, besides collecting personal stories of people with iBS, Knowing as Healing is working with a local artist to create objects for its Wellbeing Day exhibit. The University of Sheffield also conducts other medical research regarding IBS.

To read the post on the upcoming exhibit, and to access links to Knowing as Healing and the rest of the Storying Sheffield site, see the link below.




Northwestern University Survey for Mental Health Professionals on Treating Gastrointestinal Conditions

October 14, 2013

The Center for Psychosocial Research In GI at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University in Chicago is an active center for research into gastrointestinal conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other less commonly known digestive disorders. In particular, this research usually has focused on the psychosocial aspects of gastrointestinal conditions, such as stigma, social impact and perceived quality of life from the point of view of people living with these chronic conditions. As a blog and website founded by people with IBS, most of the time, we have chosen to highlight resources, open studies and other information of interest to that group, However, we also have many readers, social media followers, and supporters among the various health and human service professionals who specialize in gastrointestinal disorders, chronic illness or chronic pain.

Researchers of irritable bowel syndrome have long recognized that the dysfunctions in the brain-gut axis involved in IBS make psychological treatments such as gut-directed hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and occasionally other psychological approaches particularly effective for many people with IBS, even those who do not have coexisting mental health issues. In addition, a statistically significant subset of people with IBS do have overlapping conditions of anxiety and/or depression, either as preexisting diagnoses, or as a result of living with the symptoms and stresses of chronic IBS.

Historically, the number of available mental health professionals who are knowledgeable and well-experienced specifically in IBS and other functional gastrointestinal disorders has been relatively small, making it difficult for most affected people who might benefit from these treatment options to gain access to appropriate, affordable care in or near their home communities. This is true even in many major metropolitan areas with renowned teaching medical centers. It is in the interest of people with IBS as a community to support the continuing education and training of more therapists and other professionals who might encounter people with IBS in their practices, or find IBS to be a new area of interest or focus. Consequently, IBS Impact encourages mental health professionals to consider completing the following brief online survey by CRPGI regarding your experience or lack thereof with gastrointestinal conditions and possible interest in further training in this area. This survey is being conducted by Sarah Kinsinger, PhD and Laurie Keefer, PhD, and the estimated time for completion is 2 minutes.


IBS Impact thanks CRPGI for its continuing commitment to gastrointestinal disorders and mental health, and hopes for a robust and fruitful response to guide its future endeavors.

Update on American Gut and uBiome Human Microbiome Research Projects

October 6, 2013

As many readers of this blog are probably aware, the potential roles of “good” and “bad” gut bacteria in gastrointestinal disorders like IBS is somewhat of a “hot topic” in recent years, capturing much attention in both scientific and mainstream media. This field of research appears to be promising, but despite the hype, actual scientific understanding is still at a very early stage.  On December 31, 2012, this blog reported that two separate teams of researchers, American Gut and uBiome, were using the Internet and the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to recruit members of the general public. For monetary donations of varying amounts depending on the number of test kit one wished to receive, one was able to submit stool, and/or mouth or skin samples for analysis. Participants of both projects were asked to complete detailed online surveys on diet, health and daily lifestyle factors that may affect the microbiome.

The initial Indiegogo campaigns ended in February 2013. American Gut attracted about 4000 people throughout the U.S. in Phases I and II, began shipping kits this past spring, and recently began releasing preliminary general results. Individual results will be available to the specific participants over the next several months.  uBiome’s approximately 2500 recruits recently began receiving their kits and providing their samples and questionnaires. Both projects are currently continuing to invite public participation.

Both American Gut and uBiome welcome those who are currently healthy and those with medical conditions. In Phase III of American Gut, over 6000 U.S. resident adults and children older than 3 months have signed up.  uBiome is open to people from any country in the world where postal regulations allow transport of kits and biological samples.  Both American Gut and uBiome have privacy policies whereby samples will be coded and personally identifying information will be protected according to standard research protocols and U.S. health privacy laws.

Although this unconventional recruiting approach differs from standard, controlled clinical trials, these are legitimate research endeavors involving collaborations among scientists and social scientists associated with well-regarded academic, medical and scientific research institutions. Donated samples for American Gut are received and coordinated by the University of Colorado at Boulder, but will also be used by researchers at more than two dozen sites in the United States, Belgium and Australia. uBiome is located in the San Francisco Bay Area of the United States, but involves people with ties to several countries. According to the uBiome website, its founders and scientific advisors have varied high-level expertise and honors in biochemistry, biophysics, molecular cell biology, biotechnology, medicine, computer science, economics, entrepreneurship and social innovation.

It should be emphasized that although each team of researchers will provide participating donors with individual analyses of their own or their participating family members’ samples, and other reports about their research findings in general, these do not constitute formal recommendations or means of prevention, diagnosis or treatment of IBS or any other medical condition. Scientific understanding of the human microbiome has not reached that point yet. Readers of this blog post who choose to volunteer should do so in the spirit of, in the words of uBiome, “citizen science,” the public good and future understanding of how the microbiome works and influences human health. With that in mind, these appear to be very interesting opportunities, and IBS Impact wishes all the involved researchers useful insights and progress toward those ends.