Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common diagnoses made by gastroenterologists and primary care providers alike, yet the underlying causes of IBS are poorly understood. Advances in genetics and genomics during the past decade, including sequencing of the human genome and DNA sequencing technologies, have made it possible to discover the genetic basis for many diseases. With the discovery of multiple genetic loci for other gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn's disease, we believe there are discoverable genes for IBS. As genetic research in IBS is relatively nascent, much opportunity, as well as many challenges, exists in identifying the genes responsible for IBS.

Our patient-oriented research is centered on the study of the genetics of IBS in families, identification of environmental and social risk factors for IBS, patient education, diet and nutritional factors, and treatment efficacy in patients with IBS. Through funding by the National Institutes of Health, a current study seeks to identify patterns of symptom transmission through family members and potential genes responsible for bowel symptoms.

The ultimate goal of our research program is to better understand the mechanisms underlying IBS so that better diagnostic tests and treatments can be identified and created for patients.

About Dr. Saito Loftus

Yuri A. Saito Loftus, M.D., is a gastroenterologist and associate professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota. She received her bachelor's degree in biology, medical degree, and master's degree in public health from the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Saito Loftus has always been interested in science and math and applying these interests to clinical and epidemiological research of gastrointestinal disorders was a natural choice.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an extremely common disorder that affects many, yet is relatively understudied and poorly understood. Her hope is that by focusing on this field, she can move the field forward so that the quality of lives of those living with IBS can be greatly improved.