Two DOM faculty receive named, distinguished service professorships

Two Department of Medicine faculty have received distinguished service professorships or named professorships effective January 1, 2022: Bana Jabri,MD,PhD has been named the Sarah and Harold Lincoln Thompson Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Pathology, Pediatrics and the College, and Monica Peek,MD has been named as the Ellen H. Block Professor for Health Justice in the Department of Medicine.

Dr. Jabri is a world expert in the study of celiac disease and mucosal immunology and has made seminal discoveries relating to the mechanisms underlying the development of complex inflammatory disorders such as IBD & type-1 diabetes. Her work has led to new insights in determining what triggers the abnormal reaction to gluten in celiac disease and recent discoveries have demonstrated the possibility that vaccines could one day be used to prevent the disease.

Dr. Jabri received her MD at the Institut Pasteur in Paris France where she achieved clinical certification in Pediatrics and GI.  She completed her fellowship training at NIH in Molecular Biology and Allergology before returning to Paris to earn her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Paris. She has held positions in Paris, at Princeton University and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in NY. In 2002 she arrived at the University of Chicago as an Assistant Professor in Pathology. In 2006, she joined the Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition as Associate Professor and was promoted to full professor in 2011. In 2017 she was named as the  Sarah and Harold Lincoln Thompson Professor. The distinction of distinguished service professor is honor that reflects the respect in which Dr. Jabri is held by her colleagues and appreciation of her outstanding contributions to scholarship, teaching, and the intellectual community of the University. She also serves as Vice Chair for Research, Chair of the Committee on Immunology, and PI on the NIH P30 Center for Interdisciplinary Study of Inflammatory Intestinal Disorders (formerly the DDRCC) grant.

Dr. Jabri’s groundbreaking work includes the discovery that signals from tissue cells control effector immune responses, in particular combinations of stress-induced ligands and IL-15 license cytotoxic T cell to mediate tissue damage.  She also identified the mechanism underlying the association between HLA-DQ8 and celiac disease. Her research group went on to develop the first-ever mouse model of celiac disease, which will allow for the testing of new vaccines and therapeutic strategies.  Using this model, her team demonstrated critical roles for both Vitamin A and IL-15 in the pathogenesis of celiac disease. These findings have had profound implications not only for celiac disease but also for the fields of both autoimmunity and mucosal immunology, including the engineering of oral vaccinations and understanding how dysregulated immune responses to luminal food antigens can lead to the development of food allergies and inflammatory bowel disease. Her work has directly led to the testing of novel therapies aimed at blocking IL-15 signaling in severe cases of celiac disease.

Dr. Jabri’s seminal work has been published in dozens of high impact journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, Science, Nature and Cell. She is the 2010 recipient of the international William. K Warren Jr. Prize for Basic Research in celiac disease, the Lloyd Mayer Mucosal Immunology Prize,and an elected member of the prestigious Association of American Physicians, and most recently a winner of the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education.

Dr. Peek is a talented translational and health equity investigator who aims to improve diabetes care and medical outcomes for residents on the South Side of Chicago and explores how racial and cultural barriers impact physician-patient relations and shared decision-making. Her research has explored promoting equitable doctor/patient relationships among racial minorities, integrating the medical and social needs of patients, and addressing healthcare discrimination and structural racism that impact health outcomes (e.g., diabetes, COVID-19).

Dr. Peek has conducted ground-breaking research in shared decision-making (SDM) among marginalized populations with diabetes.  She has developed and tested conceptual frameworks for understanding SDM among African-Americans, and developed evidence-based interventions to improve SDM among this population, and created tools to support SDM engagement within marginalized populations, such as a culturally tailored SDM video sponsored by the journal Health Affairs and an educational PBS documentary. This work informed practice guidelines about SDM among vulnerable populations.

Dr. Peek received her MPH in Health Policy and Management and her MD from Johns Hopkins University prior to completing her clinical training as an Internal Medicine Resident from Stanford University Hospital. She then worked for the National Health Service Corps for two years at a community health center for the medically underserved in Ohio before joining the faculty of the Department of Medicine in 2006.  In September 2021 she was promoted to the rank of professor.

Dr. Peek’s outstanding work is focused on improving the health and health care for marginalized populations. Her  early work engaging the South Side Diabetes Project which melded patient engagement, provider training in cultural competence, clinic systems enhancement for quality improvement, and community engagement with multiple stakeholders such as food pantries, farmers’ markets, pharmacies, grocery stores, Park District, and others, is nationally known and  has become a best-practice standard which has been highlighted by numerous professional organizations, as well as the media and multiple peer-reviewed scientific publications.   She is currently the Co-PI for the national program Bridging The Gap: Reducing Disparities in Diabetes Care, which supports healthcare systems to combine medical and social care needs of marginalized populations to improve diabetes health outcomes. Her efforts this year are particularly noteworthy as she worked as a clinician, bioethicist, public health expert and health services researcher to advocate for policy and clinical solutions to disparities in COVID-19 prevention (e.g. vaccine distribution), care and health outcomes.

Dr. Peek has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed research papers in journals such as Health Affairs, JAMA, Medical Care, Health Services Research and the American Journal of Public Health. She has served as the principal investigator of multiple grants from institutions such as NIH/NIDDK, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Greenwall Foundation and the Merck Foundation.  She is a Senior Associate Editor for the journal Health Services Research, a member of the Executive Council for the American Diabetes Association and a recent member of the National Advisory Council (NAC) for the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ).

Dr. Peek was recently appointed as Associate Vice Chair for Research Faculty Development for the Department of Medicine where she will work closely with Drs. Gilad and Mirmira to advise and mentor research fellows and faculty underrepresented in medicine (UiM) in their scholarly activities and career advancement.