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Kenneth Chang: Digestive Work Reaches Larger Audiences

Dr. Kenneth Chang is keeping busy on his mission to create a colon cancer-free Orange County.

Chang—the chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, the executive director of the Chao Family Comprehensive Digestive Disease Center (CDDC), and founder of the UCI Digestive Health Institute—has spent the last 30 years researching endoscopic modalities for stomach cancer, staging and therapy. His work can be seen in devices and methods practiced in medicine across the world.

After winning a Business Journal Innovator of the Year Award last September, Chang has more in store. He plans to ramp up and showcase his work at UCI’s $1.3 billion healthcare campus sprouting up at the corner of Jamboree Road and Birch Street.

The UCI project will span about 800,000 square feet combined and include a 144-bed acute care hospital with an emergency room.

The digestive institute is planning for an expansion to the new facility, where it will have three procedure rooms and 11 exam rooms at the center for advanced care.

While Chang was not available for an interview last week, institute officials told the Business Journal that he is looking forward to expanding his care at the new facility, which is expected to open in 2025.


Gut Feelings

More than 40 world-class physicians and 100 additional healthcare professionals have treated diseases and disorders of the gastrointestinal tract at the institute since Chang started it in 2017.

The center defines itself as an active medical system practicing and creating new medicine every day. Chang has contributed to this system through creating devices such as the Endoscopic Ultrasound Guided Portal Pressure Gradient that can assess liver health and diagnose the advance signs of fatty liver disease.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the device in 2020, and he has since taught the procedure to hundreds of top specialists around the globe through the institute.

His priority for teaching can be seen in the international strides his professional outreach has taken.

In April, Chang spoke at the Gastroenterology & Hepatology Symposium held at the Chao Family Disease Center in Orange. Over 1,100 individuals attended from across the U.S. and 63 other countries.

Chang’s teaching efforts were limited during the pandemic due to the travel lockdown, so he has since turned his focus to virtual teaching and has found a wider audience as a result.

In May, Chang was one of the 2022 American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) Master Endoscopist award honorees at one of the largest gastrointestinal conventions hosted in San Diego. ASGE highlighted the “disruptive technologies” he had brought to the field.

Other major developments are in motion at the health center, institute Marketing Manager Megan Sawyer hinted.

“Keep an eye on us,” she told the Business Journal.

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