Leading IBD Experts Join Columbia

November 20, 2019
Bo Shen and Neal LeLeiko
Bo Shen, MD, and Neal LeLeiko, MD, PhD

Two leading experts in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)—one in adult care and the other in pediatric care—have been named to positions at Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Effective Dec. 1, Bo Shen, MD, will be professor of medicine (in surgery) at CUMC and vice chair for innovation in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Surgery. His titles reflect the collaboration that his work will foster with colleagues in medicine and surgery. 

Neal LeLeiko, MD, PhD, joined VP&S in November as professor of pediatrics and director of the pediatric IBD program in the division of pediatric gastroenterology, nutrition, and liver diseases.

Shen, who also will be section head of IBD and director of the Interventional IBD Center in medicine and surgery, specializes in adult IBD, pouchitis, and ileal pouch disorders. Pouchitis is an inflammatory condition that occurs in the lining of a pouch created during surgery to treat ulcerative colitis and other digestive diseases. He estimates around 40% to 50% of adults with ulcerative colitis who undergo colectomy with ileal pouches subsequently suffer from pouchitis or other pouch disorders. He will join Columbia from the Cleveland Clinic, where he founded a pouchitis clinic and an interventional IBD unit, the first and the largest of its kind in the United States. He is a leader in using endoscopy to manage complications of IBD and IBD-related surgery, ranging from bowel blockage to surgical suture-line leaks.

“Clinical expertise and charisma are found here at Columbia,” said Shen. “There’s a great team in place. I see innovation coming from many sides, from the bench side in the form of translational research, to the surgical and medical treatment of patients, to delving more into theories of disease.”

LeLeiko, who specializes in digestive disorders in children and adolescents, including IBD and Crohn’s disease, has expertise in the role of nutritional therapy to treat pediatric digestive disorders. He joined Columbia from the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, where he directed the division of pediatric gastroenterology, nutrition, and liver diseases.

“Columbia is already a leader in providing the best outcomes in IBD surgery for those children who do not respond to other therapies,” said LeLeiko, who received his MD from New York Medical College and PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and previously spent more than 20 years in New York working at Mount Sinai, where he developed a major IBD center, nutrition program, liver transplant program, and small bowel transplant program. “Our great pediatric faculty have the expertise to care for any related or unrelated medical issues that arise in our patients and work hard embracing a holistic approach. I see tremendous synergy developing here.”

LeLeiko and Shen arrive at a pivotal moment for Columbia’s IBD programs, which are expanding services to improve interdisciplinary care for patients. One example is the ColumbiaDoctors White Plains practice, where a multi-faceted pediatric gastroenterology team has been assembled. LeLeiko is a member. 

The two new faculty also are excited about opportunities to conduct research and to get involved in clinical networks aimed at analyzing and improving patient care, as well as for collaboration between the adult and pediatric IBD programs. According to LeLeiko, by age 6 almost all IBD cases are of the type associated with older children and adults. He foresees developing a mechanism to transition older adolescent patients to adult providers while continuing to track long-term outcomes and partnering with Shen on nutritional therapies for adult IBD patients. 

“I’m a firm believer in nutritional therapy in IBD for the majority of patients,” said Shen, who earned his medical degree from Nantong Medical College in Jiangsu, China, and has treated patients internationally. “For some reason, nutritional therapy lags behind in the United States. In Japan, China, and Korea, nutritional therapy is routine. We need to take a broad-spectrum view and provide individualized treatment for every patient.”