The research interests of Lesley A. Houghton, Ph.D., include the causes, pathophysiology, genetics and treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs), particularly irritable bowel syndrome, functional dyspepsia, functional constipation and noncardiac chest pain.

Additional interests include why and how (physiologically and genetically) these conditions are often associated with gastroesophageal reflux, psychopathology, alterations in gut microflora and extraintestinal disorders, such as chronic cough, asthma and fibromyalgia. The roles of race, ethnicity, gender and stress are also of interest.

Focus areas

  • Pathophysiology and treatment of irritable bowel syndrome
  • Gastroesophageal reflux and mechanisms linking it to chronic cough and asthma
  • Effects of race, ethnicity, gender and stress on FGIDs
  • Better physiological phenotyping of patients with FGIDs
  • Pharmacogenetics of FGIDs

Significance to patient care

FGIDs are very common — they account for more than half of referrals to gastroenterology clinics, result in significant absenteeism from work and considerably impact quality of life.

Management of FGIDs remains notoriously difficult, so there's a strong need for new and safe treatment options. Better understanding of the physiological mechanisms and genetics associated with these bothersome conditions will enable the development of more-effective treatments, which in turn will improve patient care and socioeconomic status.

Professional highlights

  • Co-Chair, Multinational Rome IV Working Committee to Develop Criteria for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (Age, Gender, Women's Health and the Patient Section), 2011-present
  • Fellow, American Gastroenterological Association (AGAF), 2011-present
  • Honorary Professor of Neurogastroenterology, The University of Manchester, U.K., 2011-present
  • Fellow, American College of Gastroenterology (FACG), 2010-present
  • Fellow, Society of Biology (FSB), U.K., 2002-present



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