Centers of Excellence and Areas of Emphasis

Virginia Mason's Digestive Disease Institute optimizes patient care through innovations in research, education, and a multidisciplinary approach to quality treatment of digestive and liver diseases.

Centers of Excellence

The Digestive Disease Institute’s eight centers of excellence promote new knowledge and treatment through research and education.

Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence

As the leader of Virginia Mason’s high volume practice for management of complications after bariatric surgery, Jeff Hunter, MD, is guiding residents in studying management of persistent gastric sleeve leaks.

Esophageal Center of Excellence

Donald Low, MD, is leading an international group of high volume centers collecting data on sarcopenia, cancer cachexia and body composition in order to study their effect on outcomes in esophageal cancer patients.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center of Excellence

The IBD team welcomes colorectal surgeon Jennifer Kaplan, MD, who completes the multidisciplinary team as it embarks on a novel phase three clinical trial with hyperbaric therapy for patients hospitalized with severe ulcerative colitis.

Liver Center of Excellence

Led by Asma Siddique, MD, the team is celebrating the 10th year of Virginia Mason’s Hepatology Fellowship, focusing on inpatient and ambulatory care, research and participation in a robust portfolio of liver clinical trials.

Liver, Pancreas and Biliary Surgical Center of Excellence

Led by Scott Helton, MD, the HPB team has expanded its reach to central Washington, enhancing access in an underserved population, and continues to lead a two-year HPB surgical fellowship, including one full year dedicated to research.

Nutrition Center of Excellence

Jonathan Stoehr, MD, PhD, is leading collaborations with primary care providers to apply evidence-based medicine to management of weight loss in a model aimed at expanding the reach of current services.

Pancreatic Center of Excellence

Led by Vincent Picozzi, MD and Shayan Irani, MD, the team is working with pharmacist colleagues to implement an innovative model for lowering cost of pancreatic enzymes. Their work to reduce length of stay for pancreatitis continues.

Therapeutic Endoscopy Center of Excellence

Led by Andrew Ross, MD, the team is focusing on trans-oral incisionless fundoplication, exploring the role of disposable duodenoscopes, and expanding indications for enteral anastomoses and endoscopic drainage techniques.

Areas of Emphasis


Blaire Burman, MD, is enhancing the University of Washington-Virginia Mason Gastroenterology fellowship, overseeing international Visiting Scholars and hosting patient lectures.

Furthering the diversity of the clinical trial portfolio in digestive disease, Val Simianu, MD, is working with the team on the Comparison of Surgery and Medicine on the Impact of Diverticulitis (COSMID) trial.