James Lewis has dedicated his 20-year career to optimizing IBD therapy and exploring novel treatment strategies through rigorous clinical study.
A first-of-its-kind award, the Sherman Prize for Excellence in Crohn’s and Colitis, was established to recognize outstanding contributions by health-care professionals, medical researchers, public health advocates and educators in the field of inflammatory bowel disease. Recently, Moorestown resident of 18 years, James D. Lewis, MD, MSCE, was given this honor for his remarkable contributions to the field.
“This was truly a great honor for me. It is always nice to be acknowledged by your peers, but this award also recognizes people who have given back to the field in a broader sense,” Lewis said. “I felt honored to have been nominated, much less to have been selected to receive the award.”
A professor of medicine and epidemiology and associate director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Lewis has dedicated his 20-year career to optimizing IBD therapy and exploring novel treatment strategies through rigorous clinical study.
“I became interested in gastroenterology during the first two years of medical school because I was also interested in treating patients with chronic diseases where there are complex decisions about what is the best treatment strategy. Inflammatory bowel disease was a logical focus,” Lewis said. “When I first started working in this area, it was not very popular among clinical researchers, and we did not have much in the way of effective therapies, and our patients were really struggling. That attracted me further to the field.”
Through exploring treatment strategies, the renowned clinician-scientist in the field of gastroenterology has focused his efforts specifically on the influence of diet and gut microorganisms on the course of IBD and has sought to identify the strategies that are not based on systemic immunosuppression. He hopes his work may lead to an increase in diet-based treatments for Crohn’s and colitis.
Additionally, Lewis is now spearheading the creation of IBD Plexus, an innovative IBD research and information exchange platform that will standardize data collection and sharing. The platform will also allow researchers to mine vast troves of patient data for new insights into the diseases.
“I owe enormous thanks to the team at CCFA, to my career mentors and colleagues, to the many patients who have participated in my research studies, to my students and to my family who have supported me in pursuing this line of work,” Lewis said.
For winning of this award Lewis will receive a $100,000 prize, designed to help award recipients advance their important work in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The recipients may determine the best way to direct the funds for this purpose, and each year, the Bruce and Cynthia Sherman Charitable Foundation fund two annual $100,000 Sherman Prizes and a $25,000 Sherman Emerging Leader Prize.
“My hope is that [IBD Plexus] will improve the experiences of patients and their physicians, improve patient outcomes and also facilitate research related to IBD,” Lewis said. “I anticipate using the prize money to further our development of this tool.”