20 June 2017

International acclaim for leading gluten expert

Professor David Sanders first person in UK since 2005 to win prestigious Benjt Ihre Medal for groundbreaking work into gluten related problems

A LEADING gluten expert who is responsible for running the country’s foremost clinic for gluten and gut related problems has become the first person in the UK in an over a decade to win a highly sought after international prize in his field.

Professor David Sanders, consultant gastroenterologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Professor of Gastroenterology at the University of Sheffield, has been awarded the prestigious Bengt Ihre Medal from the Swedish Society of Gastroenterology.

The international award – which is one of the most prestigious in the field of gastroenterology – has only been awarded to UK gastroenterologists on three previous occasions in its history.

Professor David Sanders has played a pivotal role in helping advance understanding of the impact of gluten on lifestyles and health. Based at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s Gastrointestinal Unit, his landmark research has benchmarked the prevalence of coeliac disease and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity within the UK and demonstrated that patients presenting with irritable bowel syndrome could have previously undetected coeliac disease.

The Sheffield unit has pioneered diagnosis and new treatments that has resulted in The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guideline recommendations for these patients. It also looks after the largest population of coeliac disease patients in the UK.

Together with his colleague Professor Marios Hadjivassiliou, also from the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, he established the Sheffield Institute of Gluten-Related Disorders (SIGReD) in 2013.

This world-leading centre brings together some of the most distinguished researchers and academics and aims to increase recognition of symptoms of coeliac disease not always connected to the bowel.

He is also the chair of Coeliac UK’s Health Advisory Council.

Professor David Sanders said: “For a Society to pick out your work from thousands across the globe is a real honour, and great peer recognition of the groundbreaking work being led from our Sheffield unit, which is arguably the foremost unit of its kind in the country.

"This is absolutely wonderful news and I am delighted to have received this prestigious award. I will cherish it and it reflects all the support I have received from patients and colleagues over the years.”

Sarah Sleet, chief executive of Coeliac UK, said: “This award is a well-earned acknowledgment for the groundbreaking work Professor Sanders has done over many years in the field of coeliac disease. He has contributed both to changes in clinical practice national and internationally which will improve patient lives for years to come. What’s more he has done so in partnership with patients and as a clear advocate for their needs.”

The Benjt Ihre Medal was presented to Professor David Sanders at the recent annual scientific meeting of the Swedish Society of Gastroenterology in June.

Here he addressed an audience of 1,000 medics, surgeons and nurses working in the field as the 2017 Benjt Ihre honorary lecturer, highlighting recent advances in coeliac disease and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity research.

At present, the only known treatment for coeliac disease, which can cause chronic diarrhoea, fatigue and growth deficiency as well as other symptoms, is following a lifelong gluten-free diet.

Around 1% of the UK population suffer with coeliac disease, with a further three-quarters of the population believed to be undiagnosed. The Sheffield unit looks after more than 1,500 coeliac disease patients, the largest population of patients within the UK. But despite this there may be up to 4,500 undiagnosed cases in Sheffield alone.

Gastroenterology is a specialist field of medicine where doctors investigate, diagnose, treat and prevent disease affecting the stomach, intestines, liver, the pancreas and gallbladder.




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