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UCI Health names new co-directors of the Digestive Health Institute

Dr. John G. Lee and Dr. Skandan Shanmugan will continue legacy of innovative healthcare and research

July 02, 2024
Dr. John G. Lee smiling in business attire.
UCI Health gastroenterologist Dr. John G. Lee. 

Orange, Calif. — UCI Health is pleased to announce that Dr. John G. Lee and Dr. Skandan Shanmugan have been appointed co-directors of the Chao Digestive Health Institute. They each bring a wealth of experience and deep knowledge in their respective areas of expertise as leaders of a center renowned for its commitment to innovation, clinical excellence, education and scientific discovery. Together they will propel the institute to new heights of discovery and innovation and bring a dedication and commitment to providing the highest level of quality and safety for our patients.

“The Chao Digestive Health Institute is one of the few comprehensive centers in the nation to provide state-of-the-art care to patients with all digestive diseases,” said Chad T. Lefteris, president and CEO of UCI Health. “Drs. Lee and Shanmugan provide the deep experience and expertise that will lead the institute to even greater achievements in advancing care for digestive health.”

Innovation at the Chao Digestive Health Institute is, like other multidisciplinary UCI Health centers, powered by one of America’s premier public research institutions, UC Irvine. No other organization in Orange County combines basic scientific discovery with translational and clinical research with a commitment to improving medical, endoscopic and surgical treatments of gastrointestinal (GI) oncology, foregut, hepatobiliary, inflammatory bowel disease, and colon & rectal disorders.

Lee has served as associate director of the flagship Chao Family Comprehensive Digestive Disease Center in Orange and directs pancreaticobiliary services at UCI Medical Center. He specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the pancreas and biliary tract using minimally invasive techniques, including interventional endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). Lee is also skilled at treating gastrointestinal bleeding and removing difficult and large colonic polyps. He is a professor of clinical medicine at the UC Irvine School of Medicine and is an author of more than 180 peer-reviewed publications.

Dr. Skandan Shanmugan in business suit.UCI Health colorectal surgeon Dr. Skandan Shanmugan.

Shanmugan is chief of the Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery who specializes in laparoscopic and robot-assisted surgical approaches to treating diseases of the colon and rectum, including advanced colorectal cancers and complex inflammatory bowel diseases. He is an associate professor of surgery in the Department of Surgery at the UC Irvine School of Medicine and an author or co-author of numerous peer reviewed publications. Previously, Shanmugan served as chief of colon and rectal surgery at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center/University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he received multiple surgical and teaching awards.

Lee and Shanmugan lead a deeply experienced multidisciplinary team of gastroenterologists and surgeons and will advance the Chao Digestive Health Institute as a globally recognized leader in surgical and digestive disease diagnoses, treatments and innovations. With nine locations around the region, including the new Joe C. Wen & Family Center for Advanced Care in Irvine and the flagship Chao Family Comprehensive Digestive Disease Center in Orange, the institute brings comprehensive, world-class, patient-focused healthcare to Southern California.

“UCI Health has always been a leader in digestive health, especially in complex cases that require collaborative, multidisciplinary approaches to diagnosis and treatment,” said Dr. Michael J. Stamos, dean of the UC Irvine School of Medicine, one of the nation’s foremost colorectal surgeons and a past president of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) and the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery (ABCRS).

“The combined expertise of the Chao Digestive Health Institute clinicians working with the specialists at one of only 57 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers is an unmatched example of this approach.

"The ability to discover and innovate — whether through basic, translational or clinical research, or establish new and best practices to deliver exceptional healthcare — is the engine that drives our success and our promise to patients and families,” said Stamos.

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About UCI Health

UCI Health is the clinical enterprise of the University of California, Irvine, and the only academic health system based in Orange County. UCI Health is comprised of its main campus, UCI Medical Center, a 459-bed, acute care hospital in in Orange, Calif., four hospitals and affiliated physicians of the UCI Health Community Network in Orange and Los Angeles counties and ambulatory care centers across the region. Listed among America’s Best Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report for 23 consecutive years, UCI Medical Center provides tertiary and quaternary care and is home to Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centerhigh-risk perinatal/neonatal program and American College of Surgeons-verified Level I adult and Level II pediatric trauma centergold level 1 geriatric emergency department and regional burn center. UCI Health serves a region of nearly 4 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County. Follow us on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and Twitter.