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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Faculty Profile: Stephen B. Hanauer, MD, Professor of Medicine-Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Stephen B. Hanauer, MD

More than one million Americans suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), divided between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. A distinguished physician-scientist and international leader in the treatment of IBD, Stephen B. Hanauer, MD , and his colleagues have come so far in understanding and treating IBD that their work may become a model for treating other immune-mediated inflammatory disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and lupus.

Hanauer joined Feinberg in January 2014 as the Clifford Joseph Barborka Professor of Medicine and the medical director of the Digestive Disease Center.

He serves as chair of the International Organization for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, secretary-elect of the American College of Gastroenterology, and is a member of the GI Specialty Board of Internal Medicine, the American College of Physicians, and American Gastroenterology Association. He previously served as chair of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Gastrointestinal Drugs Advisory Committee, where he authored the FDA’s “Guidelines for Clinical Evaluation of Drugs for Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease.”


What are your research interests?
My research has been focused on understanding factors that influence the development and course of IBD, primarily to develop therapeutic approaches to optimize and personalize treatments that improve short and long-term treatment outcomes.

I have been engaged in numerous clinical trials regarding new drugs for IBD, including a variety of delivery systems for mesalamine, an anti-inflammatory drug, non-systemic corticosteroids, optimizing immunosuppressives including thiopurines and methotrexate, in addition to biologic agents including infliximab, adalimumab, certolizumab, golimumab, natalizumab, and vedolizumab. I also have clinical trials on treatments for severe colitis including cyclosporine.

What is the ultimate goal of your research?
The goal of my research is to improve the care for patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. My research has been instrumental in developing and expanding treatment guidelines for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

What types of collaborations are you engaged in across campus?
My collaborations have been with both basic researchers to translate bench-to-bedside and bedside-to-bench discoveries as well to develop treatment algorithms with national and international multi-institutional clinical trials.

How did you become interested in this area of research?
I became interested in IBD at the University of Chicago, where I was mentored by Joseph Kirsner, MD, PhD. Helping young individuals cope with chronic, socially incapacitating GI disorders and to improve their outcomes is an incredibly rewarding experience. I now care for the children of many of my patients.

What kind of research do you think is needed to advance the understanding of ulcerative colitis, IBD, and other digestive diseases?
We need more clinical effectiveness trials comparing different classes of agent. Secondly, our safest and most effective (biologic) agents are best used early in disease to prevent progression, however, due to high costs, are used later when they are less effective and associated with more side effects.

Which honors are you most proud of, and why?
I have been recognized by the American Gastroenterological Association for both excellence in Clinical Research and Clinical Care, and by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation for Clinical Research in IBD. I am proud, first and foremost, for recognition as a clinician, but the advances in treatment will impact even more individuals than the ones I treat.