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5.17.2018

Dr. Maria T. Abreu Inducted into Association of American Physicians

Maria T. Abreu, M.D., professor of medicine and professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and the Martin H. Kalser Chair in Gastroenterology, has been inducted into the prestigious Association of American Physicians (AAP). Induction into the association, which was founded in 1885 for “the advancement of scientific and practical medicine” and includes Nobel laureates in its membership, is considered an exceptional honor.

Abreu, who is director of the Elaine and Sydney Sussman Family Crohn’s & Colitis Clinic at the University of Miami Health System, is an accomplished researcher, educator, clinician, and leader of national professional organizations. She was inducted into the AAP on April 20 at the organization’s annual meeting in Chicago.

“We are so proud that Dr. Abreu has been honored for her extraordinary contributions to the field with membership in the Association of American Physicians,” said Edward Abraham, M.D., Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, CEO of UHealth, and Dean of the Miller School of Medicine. “Her research and care have made a difference for countless patients, and this recognition of her impact is a great honor for the Miller School of Medicine.”

Abreu’s research focuses on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and host-bacterial interactions. Her basic research interests include the role of toll-like receptor signaling in intestinal inflammation and colon cancer. Her translational work has focused on genotype-phenotype relationships in inflammatory bowel disease and prediction of response to medical therapies.

“There is a paucity of physician-scientists addressing translational questions in IBD and even fewer who are active, sought-after clinicians – a combination offering a uniquely advantageous viewpoint,” Stephan R. Targan, M.D., Feintech Family Chair in Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Cedars-Sinai, wrote in nominating Abreu for AAP membership. “Dr. Abreu is further distinguished by the extent to which she inspires young physician-scientists to pursue academic careers.”

Targan was Abreu’s first mentor, the person she credits with inspiring her interest in science and inflammatory bowel disease during her fellowship in gastroenterology and post-doctoral fellowship in molecular and cancer biology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“I am so honored that Dr. Targan nominated me for membership in the AAP, and that I have been chosen to join this remarkable group of distinguished colleagues,” Abreu said.

In addition to the ceremony inducting her into the association, Abreu was one of only two new members invited to address the annual meeting. Her presentation – titled “The rising incidence of inflammatory bowel disease in immigrants: Is it all in the genes?” – described research she and her colleagues are conducting to determine the possible role that changes in environment and diet play in a rise in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis among people who move from Latin American countries to South Florida.

“This ability to study a new population of patients is very striking,” Abreu said. “On any given day there is a dramatic increase in the number of Hispanic or Hispanic American patients we’re seeing in our Crohn’s and Colitis Clinic. It is very likely that we will be able to identify risk factors that are changing in our environment for everyone.”

Abreu completed her medical degree at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, where she was inducted into the Iron Arrow Honor Society. Her postdoctoral training included an internship and residency in medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and the fellowships at UCLA.

She was director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center and associate professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York before returning to the University of Miami.

Abreu is a Diplomate of the National Board of Medical Examiners, the American Board of Internal Medicine, and the American Board of Gastroenterology, as well as a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. She serves a leading role in several professional societies, including as the American Gastroenterological Association Council Chair, and the next Chair of the International Organization for the Study of IBD. Additionally, she is listed in Castle Connolly as one of America’s Top Doctors.

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