Edwin EnglertEdwin Englert, Jr., MD

Edwin Englert, Jr., MD, (1926-1985) was the first gastroenterologist in Utah with a full-time academic appointment. As founder and chair of the Division of Gastroenterology at both the University of Utah and Salt Lake City Veteran’s Administration, he established the nation's first VA research and education training program in gastroenterology. He served for more than thirty years on the SLCVA and University of Utah Department of Medicine staffs as chief of the SLCVA medical service from 1966-1970, and chief of the SLCVA Gastroenterology Section from 1960-1980.

Dr. Englert was the first to forge a lasting link with his surgical colleagues. In 1968, Dr. John Dixon, a surgeon who later became Dean of the University of Utah School of Medicine, joined the Division of Gastroenterology. Today, our faculty gastroenterologists continue to work closely with the University of Utah foregut and colorectal surgeons.

James FrestonJames Freston, MD, PhD

James Freston, MD, PhD, is an internationally recognized expert in the clinical pharmacology of gastrointestinal drugs and diseases. Trained in clinical pharmacology, gastroenterology, hepatology, and aerospace medicine, Dr. Freston received his medical degree from the the University of Utah and then completed his residency training under the renowned hematologist, Dr. Maxwell Wintrobe in internal medicine and his fellowship under Dr. Edwin Englert in gastroenterology at the University of Utah. He then went on to receive his PhD from the University of London.

Upon returning to Utah, he directed the gastroenterology and clinical pharmacology divisions at the University of Utah, where he won the Outstanding Professor Award six times, and then became the chair of internal medicine at the University of Connecticut for 17 years. He was the founding Chair of the Gastroenterological Association's Foundation, President of the AGA, and also the past Chair of the American Digestive Health Foundation. A prolific researcher, Dr. Freston was instrumental in the development of Prevacid, which has had tremendous impact on the management of peptic acid disease.

Randall BurtRandall W. Burt, MD

Randall W. Burt, MD, is internationally recognized as a leading expert on familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). Dr. Burt received his medical degree from the University of Utah, completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at Washington University and Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, and completed fellowship training in gastroenterology at the University of Utah under Dr. James Freston. He is the Former Senior Director of Prevention and Outreach, Huntsman Cancer Institute Professor, Interim Senior Director of Clinical Affairs, Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

Burt held the D. Keith Barnes, MD, and Ida May "Dotty" Barnes, RN, Presidential Endowed Chair in Medicine. In addition, he was Director of the Familial Colon Cancer Clinic and Co-Director of the Family Cancer Assessment Clinic at Huntsman Cancer Institute. He is a member of the Cancer Control and Population Sciences Program and was co-leader of the Colon Cancer Program. Past studies by Dr. Burt and members of his group have shown that inheritance is a critical determinant in colon cancer, possibly playing a role in up to half of all cases.

In 1987, a group led by Dr. Burt and Ray White, PhD, discovered the chromosomal location of the gene for a dangerous inherited colon cancer syndrome called familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). Soon after, the sequence of the gene and mutations responsible for the syndrome were identified. An important outcome of this research is that genetic testing is now available to identify persons with the inherited syndrome. These tests may soon become available for detecting common colon cancer. Dr. Burt's research focused on looking at new gene mutations that cause predisposition to common colon cancers. As part of a large, randomized, controlled study, he researched the impact of diet on the occurrence of colon cancer.

Advances in Patient Care

What advances in patient care, historic or current, come from the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition that directly impacts patient care today?

  • Dr. Randall Burt's work on familial colon cancer genetics revolutionized care for afflicted patients. 
  • Dr. Malcolm Berenson's proof of concept study started the whole field of ablation of Barrett's esophagus. 
  • Dr. Kathy Peterson's clinical research added and transformed the whole field of eosionophilic esophagitis. 

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