Sandler steps down as chief of Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Robert Sandler, MD, MPH, will focus his efforts on the research activities of the Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease. Nicholas Shaheen, MD, MPH, has been named interim division chief.

The leadership transition took place on July 1, 2013. The Department of Medicine is already engaged in an internal search and hope to have a new division chief appointed by the end of this summer.

Dr. Sandler will remain the Nina C. and John T. Sessions Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Professor of Epidemiology. He joined UNC faculty in 1981, after receiving an MD at Yale University and an MPH from UNC. He is recognized in the field of cancer epidemiology and outcomes research, and his primary research interests include colon cancer etiology, screening and prevention. He is principal investigator of multiple studies, including the North Carolina Colon Cancer Study, a population-based study that explores the different factors that could explain the diverging black-white incidence and mortality trends for colorectal cancer.

“We owe Dr. Sandler a debt of gratitude and appreciation for his outstanding leadership over the past 12 years in his dual roles as Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and Director of the Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease,” said Marschall Runge, MD, PhD, Chair of the Department of Medicine and Executive Dean for the School of Medicine. “What has always been a top-tier program in gastrointestinal diseases has become one of the world’s elite programs under Dr. Sandler’s leadership.”

“That said, given the new initiatives for the division at Hillsborough and other locations, and our need to continue our tradition of excellence in this field, it important to have outstanding leadership in Gastroenterology and Hepatology and to establish that leadership in the near future,” Runge continued. “Like Dr. Sandler, Dr. Shaheen is an internationally recognized clinician, educator and investigator and has excelled in a number of important administrative roles at UNC.”

Dr. Shaheen is Professor of Medicine at the UNC School of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology at the UNC School of Public Health. He joined the UNC faculty in 1998, having earned his medical degree at the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine, where he also fulfilled his internship and residency requirements. Dr. Shaheen is the Director of the Center for Esophageal Diseases and Swallowing and is an expert on Barrett’s esophagus, reflux disease, and esophageal cancer. He has authored national guidelines for GERD, Barrett’s esophagus, eosinophilic esophagitis, and the use of upper endoscopy, and serves as Senior Associate Editor for the American Journal of Gastroenterology.