Welcome to the Johns Hopkins Barrett’s esophagus blog. Many have enjoyed our website and discussion boards [and we appreciate those of you who have drawn our attention to problems that have come up from time to time]. Our intention is to offer an educational forum about Barrett’s esophagus and its complications. Many who visit our site have learned about the very worst complication, esophagus cancer, which is a horribly deadly type of cancer when caught late. However, the good news is that many who have visited the site have learned about Barrett’s esophagus at a point when treatment is effective, such as at the “precancerous” stage (also called “dysplasia”). We are thrilled that several individuals have prompted loved ones to undergo screening after studying the site. However, the site was first posted in about 2000 and we realize we could do more to be consistently current, hence this blog.
Let me introduce myself and in the next few weeks, other members of the team with different expertise will also introduce themselves. I studied chemistry at Johns Hopkins as a college student from 1976-1980 and attended medical school at George Washington University from 1980-1984 and completed my residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center [I was in the US Army from 1984 until late 1992]. After working at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and Georgetown University, I have been at Johns Hopkins since 1999. I am a pathologist, but not the type that is featured on CSI or other forensic programs. Most of my time is spent reviewing microscopic slides from biopsies from the gastrointestinal tract, and esophagus biopsies are a frequent type of sample! I work closely with gastroenterologists, oncologists, surgeons, and other pathologists and my title here is “Professor of Pathology and Oncology”. In the next few weeks, colleagues in other departments will introduce themselves, beginning with my colleagues Anirban Maitra, MBBS, who is a talented scientist in addition to being a diagnostic pathologist like I am, and Kerry Dunbar, MD, who is a terrific gastroenterologist. Before this happens, I would like to show some images of microscopic fields Barrett’s esophagus and dysplasia and introduce some of the research going on at Johns Hopkins. For example, I am very excited that a substance found in ordinary curry that we eat has potential as a treatment for esophagus cancer and our own Dr. Maitra has discovered a better way to deliver it to the cancer cells! Dr. Dunbar has been working on new endoscopic methods to better detect dysplasia in Barrett’s esophagus.
We are proud to note that we have received financial support from friends and family of Jerry D’Amato, “Phil” Ross, Roy Jeannotte, and many others. Kuwanna Dyer even did a charity sponsored running event and sent us a donation. These efforts have allowed for educational and scientific projects and we are grateful to everyone who has contributed.
This is how Barrett’s esophagus looks to the endoscopist (upper) and under the microscope (lower). This sample is from the esophagus of a 55 year old man.
The image above is taken at low magnification of an endoscopic mucosal resection sample that my colleague, Dr. Marcia Canto, performed. There is high grade dysplasia that has been removed. This patient did not need an esophagectomy.