Apr 04 2013

Dr. Doug Morgan Keeps His Focus on Stomach Cancer in Central America

Published by chelsea at 10:21 pm under Newsletter,Spring 2013 Newsletter

Doug Morgan recently joined the Vanderbilt School of Medicine faculty as an associate professor in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition. His primary interest is cancer epidemiology and prevention in Hispanic-Latino populations, with a particular focus on stomach cancer in Central America. Globally, gastric cancer is the second leading cause of cancer mortality, and the leading infection-associated cancer, with a particular prevalence in the mountainous regions of Latin America and among U.S. Hispanics. He joins the team of researchers at Vanderbilt, a national leader in stomach cancer research.

Dr. Morgan arrives in Nashville after a decade at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In addition to his work in gastroenterology, he served as director of the UNC Center for Latino Health (CELAH) 2007–2011 and director of the UNC Program in Nicaragua. With grant funding, CELAH was created to address language barriers to care for the rapidly growing Spanish-speaking community in the Southeastern U.S. CELAH has developed an innovative model for culture and language concordance in the provision of clinical care for the Hispanic population. It includes features of patient navigation and medical home, which reaches to the sub-specialties. The infrastructure has provided a natural platform for research and teaching initiatives. CELAH now offers rotations and practicums for students and trainees, which are formal electives (in Spanish) within the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Public Health. It also has become a network for bringing together Hispanic faculty in the health sciences.

In 2011, Dr. Morgan was presented with the Ohtli Award on behalf of CELAH, the highest honor from the government of Mexico, for innovations in health care in the service of the North Carolina Hispanic-Latino population. Past Ohtli Award winners include: Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, and President of the United Farm Workers Arturo Rodriguez.

Dr. Morgan has been anchored in Central America since his service as a Peace Corps engineer in Honduras, where he worked on rural electrification projects with the municipios. While at UNC, he established collaborations in gastrointestinal disease and cancer epidemiology in Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, with funding from the NIH, the Gates Foundation, and other sectors. In Honduras, the initiatives are partnered with the Ministry of Health in the Copán region, and in western Nicaragua, with the National Autonomous University (UNAN) in León. The epidemiology initiatives have spawned a variety of education offerings, including clinical, research, and practicum electives in medicine, nursing, and public health. He is hoping to restart the summer field epidemiology elective for health sciences graduate students in the Mosquitia region of Nicaragua, a partnership with UNAN.

Dr. Doug Morgan attended Dartmouth College and received his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University. He completed his postgraduate training in internal medicine and gastroenterology at the University of California, San Francisco, with a master’s degree in public health in epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley.

A Peace Corps adage: volunteers returning from Asia speak of mysticism; those from Africa are smiling; while those returning from Latin America converse about revolution and politics and change. Así es.

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