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Alumni Interview

Portrait: Fayez Gishan, M.D.

Fayez K. Ghishan, M.D.


Dr. Ghishan is an international authority on developmental regulation of intestinal transport and has made a number of seminal observations that have formed the basis for our current understanding of fundamental aspects of intestinal function. Recognized for his life-long scientific and educational contributions to the field of pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition, Fayez is Professor and Head of Pediatrics and Director of the Steele Children's Research Center at the University of Arizona and resides in Tucson, AZ. He is the recipient of the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine’s Distinguished Alumni Award for Achievement.

What is your hometown?

Tucson, Arizona

How/when did you become interested in science and medicine?

I have been interested in medicine since I was a small child; it was instilled in me by my mother. I became interested in basic science research during my fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology at the University of Iowa in the late 70’s. During my two years fellowship, I published 16 papers. Thanks to my mentor, M. Kabir Younoszai (66F-Pediatrics, 70R, 70F-Internal Medicine) who was the chief of pediatric gastroenterology and who introduced me to basic science research, as well as to the late Drs. Sam Fomon and Harold Schedl (55MD), and also Drs. Jean Robillard (74F-Pediatrics), Ekhard Ziegler (70F-Pediatrics), Doug LaBrecque, and Ken Hubel.

Please highlight your major career achievements, awards, discoveries, etc.

I am Chairman of Pediatrics at The University of Arizona’s Health Sciences Center and the Director of the Steele Children’s Research Center. Additionally, I am the Horace Steele Endowed Chair in Pediatric Research.

My major achievements include molecular cloning of several transport proteins responsible for nutrient transport across the epithelium of the gastrointestinal tract and the kidney. I have worked with gene regulation of the cloned transport proteins. I have defined the role of inflammation on the renal/gut/skeletal axis which controls phosphate homeostasis and bone formation. I discovered a novel compound which alters the course of inflammatory bowel disease.

I was associate editor of the major textbook, Physiology of the Gastrointestinal Tract and have made major contributions to numerous textbooks in liver disease, pediatric gastroenterology, nutrition, and general textbooks of pediatrics. I have published 220 scientific papers and more than 200 abstracts and presentations at national meetings.

I am Chairman of numerous National Institutes of Health (NIH) Study Sections and the VA MERIT reviews and have received two MERIT Awards from the NIH with continuous funding for the past 30 years. I also received the Shwachman Award for Lifelong Contributions to the Field of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.

Please describe your professional interests.

My professional interests relate to the fact that I am a very active clinician and educator. I have won the Best Teaching Award from the Vanderbilt Housestaff.

What are some of your outside interests?

My outside interests include hiking in the beautiful Santa Catalina Mountains of Sabino Canyon, history and politics. And, of course, my family is the top of my list of interests. My wife Joan and I have raised four wonderful children, two of whom were born in Iowa City. We welcomed our first grandchild this past May.

What is the biggest change you've experienced in medicine since you were a student?

The biggest change I have witnessed in medicine is the rapidity in which discoveries are made and translated into patient care.

What one piece of advice would you give to today's medical students?

My single best advice is for the students is to read, read, and then read some more!


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