Question: What inspired you to work in digestive health and, more specifically, with FGIMDs?
Answer: When I was in my twenties, I was diagnosed with IBS and underwent extensive testing and workups for many years. I spent years just teaching myself to live with my illness.
In 2008 I accepted a job with the Rome Foundation, the international nonprofit organization responsible for developing the Rome Criteria
- the symptom based criteria used by physicians and other healthcare professionals to diagnose FGIMDs. As a patient myself, this opportunity allowed me to assist this valuable organization in further legitimizing the FGIMDs.
For the past nine years, I have helped to develop and manage various projects which have furthered the education for physicians in this field. I found the opportunity to increase awareness and education very fulfilling; it makes my work more than a job - but an opportunity to help others like myself and my daughters (two have FGIMDs as well).
Q: While increasing attention is being paid to FGIMD research, many FGIMDs remain poorly understood. What has been the most challenging part of working to improve awareness, education, and research for these disorders?
A: IFFGD, the Rome Foundation, and others have made a tremendous amount of headway in raising awareness for these conditions, but there is much more to do. Many of these disorders continue to be misunderstood or ignored, and both physicians and patients are often hesitant to discuss them.
Increasing the dialogue and getting people to recognize the needs of this patient population has been a struggle.
Q: What drew you to IFFGD?
A: The Rome Foundation and IFFGD work together on many things. I have been blessed to be able to participate in IFFGD National Advocacy Days as well as attend the IFFGD medical conferences in previous years. Through this I had the pleasure of meeting and working with IFFGD Founders Nancy and Bill Norton. They have always been an inspiration to me and I enjoyed any opportunity I had to work with patients like myself.
With the completion of the Rome IV project this year, I felt this was the perfect time to focus my attention more on how to meet the needs of the patient. With two daughters with FGIMDs, I hope that the work I do will help make their path easier to navigate.