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History of the Section

Digestive Diseases at Yale traces its roots back to 1938 when Samuel Kushlan, MD, established a gastroenterology unit at New Haven Hospital (the precursor to Yale New Haven Hospital) and in 1941, was the first to perform GI endoscopy in Connecticut. In 1947, Gerald Klatskin, MD, performed the first liver biopsy at Yale and shortly thereafter founded the Liver Study Unit, which was the first such unit in the country, at Yale School of Medicine. In 1955, Howard Spiro, MD, was recruited to New Haven to establish and direct the Gastroenterology unit at Yale School of Medicine. James Boyer, MD, who trained under Klatskin, was recruited back to Yale School of Medicine, and combined the Liver and Gastroenterology units into the Section of Digestive Diseases in 1982. Boyer was chief of the combined section for nearly 15 years, followed by James Anderson, MD, PhD, and Michael Nathanson, MD, PhD, who served as chief from 2003 to 2018. The current chief is Loren Laine, MD.

The section has long been and continues to be at the forefront nationwide in terms of research, clinical care, and education. For example, many of the several hundred individuals who have completed fellowships here over the past half century have gone on to become section chiefs, department chairs, and deans.

The section has over 60 full-time faculty, including physicians based at Yale School of Medicine and at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, as well as research faculty. The faculty include some of the most distinguished digestive diseases physicians and researchers in the world. For example, one of our current faculty members received the AGA Friedenwald Award, the highest honor bestowed by the AGA; two received the AASLD Distinguished Achievement Award, the highest recognition offered by this society; and one received the Distinguished Achievement Award in Basic Science from the AGA. The section is home to the Yale Liver Center, one of the premier centers of liver research in the world. The Yale Liver Center was first established and funded in 1984 and is one of only three NIH-supported liver centers in the U.S. Our clinical program is similarly accomplished. For example, our Center for Advanced Endoscopy is among the busiest interventional endoscopy programs in the Northeast, performing complex advanced procedures not done elsewhere in the state. Yale’s Section of Digestive Diseases is committed to remain a leader in research, patient care, and education.