Investigator Track


The Investigator Track of the Gastroenterology Fellowship Program aims to prepare the next generation of leaders in research in digestive and liver diseases. The Fellowship Program offers up to three years of protected research training time supported by an NIH-sponsored T32 training grant. Most trainees are physicians pursuing parallel clinical training in Gastroenterology and Hepatology, which is typically accomplished with a combined curriculum of four years (1.5 years of clinical rotations and 2.5 years of research training).

Positions are also available for postdoctoral Ph.D. trainees. The research opportunities offered through this track include basic research training as well as translational and clinical research in fields of relevance to digestive and liver diseases. Positions are offered to applicants with exceptional potential and a clear commitment to academia.

NIH regulations governing the T32 training grant only allow U.S. citizens or permanent residents to participate.

Research Training Environment

UT Southwestern Medical Center is a premier research institution, ranked among the top research universities in the United States. The excellence in research at UT Southwestern is reflected in the achievements of its distinguished faculty.

With more than $167 million in NIH funding, the Medical School ranked 22nd in 2009 among peer institutions in terms of overall funding from NIH, with the Department of Internal Medicine contributing more than $40 million. The Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases itself includes 11 NIH-funded investigators and many others with active industry-funded and other clinical research.

This academic excellence provides ample opportunities to identify appropriate mentors for fellows on the research track. Trainees pursuing an academic career in clinical research are also supported to pursue formal training in clinical research through the Department of Clinical Sciences, which offers a Masters Program in Clinical Sciences.

Fellowship Training Curriculum

Physicians who enter the research track as part of their clinical fellowship in Gastroenterology and Hepatology typically devote their first year to clinical training through inpatient rotations at our three affiliated hospitals, as well as training in the outpatient setting through a weekly continuity clinic. During this time, trainees are assisted in identifying the appropriate research mentor and in formulating a proper career plan. At the end of the first year, the program offers two and a half years of protected research time, followed by six additional months of clinical rotations in the last year of fellowship, pursuant to the 18-month clinical training requirement of our ACGME-accredited program.

Three years of work in the outpatient continuity clinic are also required. Our clinical research trainees in this track have the opportunity to train and develop clinical programs directly relevant to their research interests during their allotted protected research time. Funding is available to cover the costs of travel to relevant national meetings, as well tuition pursuant to a Masters in Clinical Sciences.

Obligations under the T32 Training Grant

Participation in the T32 training grant is reserved for trainees who will pursue an academic career centered on research. During their research training, individuals enrolled in this program will receive a stipend that is covered by our NIH-T32 training grant. The stipend is typically greater than that for clinical track trainees. Pursuant to NIH guidelines, this benefit incurs a payback obligation of one year of the received stipend; trainees that go on to pursue an academic career are exempt from this obligation.

Application Process

Applicants interested in the Investigator Track of the Gastroenterology Fellowship Program should indicate so in their ERAS application and in their personal statement. Competitive applicants will be contacted to arrange an interview date. Interested applicants are encouraged to identify investigators and potential mentors in the Medical School that they might have an interest in meeting during their interview date.

Slots for Ph.D. scientists pursuing postdoctoral training are offered on an annual basis through an internal competition process or through external recruitment when appropriate. Applicants are encouraged to email Ezra Burstein, M.D., with specific questions about the program.

Participating Faculty

Listed below are the participating faculty and their corresponding Departments and Centers. For further review, please visit their faculty pages following the links provided.

Ezra Burstein, M.D., Ph.D.
Program Director
Professor and Chief, Internal Medicine – Digestive and Liver Diseases; Molecular Biology

Jay Horton, M.D.
Associate Program Director
Professor and Director, Center for Human Nutrition; Internal Medicine – Digestive and Liver Diseases; Molecular Genetics

John Abrams, Ph.D.
Professor, Cell Biology

Bruce Beutler, M.D.
Professor, Center for Genetics of Host Defense; Immunology

Michael Brown, M.D.
Professor, Molecular Genetics, Internal Medicine

Jeffrey Browning, M.D.
Associate Professor and Chair of Clinical Nutrition, Internal Medicine – Digestive and Liver Diseases; and Advanced Imaging Research Center

Michael Buszczak, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Molecular Biology

Zhijian "James" Chen, Ph.D.
Professor, Molecular Biology and Genetics of Host Defense

Ondine Cleaver, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Molecular Biology

Ralph DeBeradinis, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor, Children's Medical Center Research Institute (CRI); Pediatrics; McDermott Center

Joel Elmquist, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Professor and Division Chief, Internal Medicine – Hypothalamic Research; Psychiatry; and Pharmacology

Luke Engelking, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine – Digestive and Liver Diseases; Molecular Genetics; and Center for Human Nutrition

Joseph Goldstein, M.D.
Professor and Chair, Molecular Genetics; Internal Medicine

Helen Hobbs, M.D.
Professor, Internal Medicine – Clinical Genetics; Molecular Genetics; Director, The Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development

Lora Hooper, Ph.D.
Professor, Immunology, Microbiology, Center for Genetics of Host Defense

Steven Kliewer, Ph.D.
Professor, Molecular Biology, Pharmacology

William Lee, M.D.
Professor, Internal Medicine – Digestive and Liver Diseases

Craig Malloy, M.D.
Professor, Advanced Imaging Research Center; Internal Medicine – Cardiology; Radiology

David Mangelsdorf, Ph.D.
Professor, Pharmacology, Biochemistry

Jorge Marrero, M.D.
Professor, Internal Medicine – Digestive and Liver Diseases

Mack Mitchell, M.D.
Professor and Vice President of Medical Affairs, Internal Medicine – Digestive and Liver Diseases

Sean Morrison, Ph.D.
Professor, Children's Medical Center Research Institute (CRI); Pediatrics

Kim Orth, Ph.D.
Professor, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry

Joyce Repa, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Physiology, Internal Medicine – Endocrinology

Philipp Scherer, Ph.D.
Professor, Internal Medicine – Touchstone Diabetes Center; Cell Biology

Amit Singal, M.D.
Associate Professor, Internal Medicine – Digestive and Liver Diseases; Clinical Science

Jerry Shay, Ph.D.
Professor, Cell Biology

Vanessa Sperandio, Ph.D.
Professor, Microbiology, Biochemistry

Emre Turer, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine – Digestive and Liver Diseases; Center for Genetics of Host Defense

Sebastian Winter, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Microbiology

Hao Zhu, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Children's Medical Center Research Institute (CRI); Internal Medicine – Hematology and Oncology; Pediatrics