Pancreas Research and Education Updates

November 16th, 2018

“Is pancreatitis in your genes?”  

Mission:Cure held a webinar that was join by hundreds of patients and healthcare workers.  The speakers were Professor David Whitcomb MD PhD (starting at 5:26 min) and Mark Haupt MD (starting at 30:10 min) from Ariel Precision Medicine, a health information technology company that integrates extensive genetic, environmental, biomarker and other data into a Clinical Report – the FIRST precision medicine offering for pancreatic diseases.

To view the Webinar click (here)

The talks focus on why our approach to pancreatitis must change, and how to use genetic information without being a genetics expert!  The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.  Consider passing it on as appropriate.  The PancreasDx test is now available through ARIEL.

PancreasFest 2019 dates have been set for July 24-26, 2019 on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh.  For more information please go to

Save the Date –> Click Here

PancreasFest 2018 was held from July 25 to July 27 2018.  The focus was on acute pancreatitis, precision medicine for recurrent acute and chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer – plus an NIDDK-supported emphasis on a drug development pipeline.

Pancreas Academy!  

Pancreas Academy is an intense primer on all aspects of pancreatic anatomy, physiology, pathology, disease types and treatment options.  It is designed for allied health care professionals and trainees who need a solid background for their jobs and in preparation for the intense topic discussions at PancreasFest.  PancreasFest organizers STRONGLY recommend that physicians and scientist from centers of excellence bring their key staff and trainees to Pancreas Academy for teaching from the world’s experts while established experts attend the NIDDK Workshop on Drug Delivery Pipeline (above).  This training is also designed to help industry representatives to learn from, and interact with the expert faculty as they learn the details of the diseases for which they offer products.

NIDDK Workshop: Accelerating the Drug Delivery Pipeline for Acute and Chronic Pancreatitis: Research Gaps and Opportunities.  The program was a resounding success.  Updates will be published in the November issue of Pancreas.

Publications from the workshop are posted here:

Updates and links to future programs will be posted when available.

CAPER Lifetime Achievement and Mentoring Award -2018

Image result for stephen pandol md image
Stephen Pandol MD received the 2018 CAPER Lifetime Achievement and Mentoring Award (Figure).  Prof. Pandol has supported PancreasFest and CAPER from years, and was a unanimous choice for this years award.





Previous PEaRLs – PEaRL Page

Hereditary Pancreatitis Study:

A research team has developed a new health survey to answer these questions and to inform genetic counselors. They are asking past participants, as well as individuals with a personal or family history of pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer, to help us by completing this survey. It can be completed in 15 minutes.

For additional information or questions, please contact Celeste Shelton, MS by calling 412-864-2826 or our toll-free number at 1-888 PITT-DNA/1-888-748-8362, or by email at

The study is IRB approved. Participation in this study is completely voluntary.

New CMS Code for Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

One of the problems faced by physicians and scientist caring for patients with pancreatic diseases is the limited options for documentation and billing using administrative codes such as ICD-9 and ICD-10.   In the latest CMS ICD-10CM 2017 release a new code has been added for Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency.  The code fall under “Other specified diseases of pancreas”(K86.8) as “Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency” (K86.81).  The other code under K86.8 is K86.89 “Other specified diseases of the pancreas” (aseptic pancreatic necrosis unrelated to acute pancreatitis, atrophy of pancreas, calculus of pancreas, cirrhosis of pancreas, fibrosis of pancreas, pancreatic fat necrosis unrelated to acute pancreatitis, pancreatic infantilism and pancreatic necrosis NOS unrelated to acute pancreatitis)

NEW Mechanistic definition of Chronic Pancreatitis.

The President of the European Pancreas Club in 2014, Professor Colin D. Johnson MD, commissioned Dr David C Whitcomb MD PhD to lead the development of a consensus definition of chronic pancreatitis, and diagnostic criteria.  The results began with the publication of a “mechanistic” definition of chronic pancreatitis, developed by leading experts from Germany, India, Italy, Japan, and the United States.  The definition is critical for the accurate diagnosis and targeted treatment of various pancreatic diseases.  The two parts of the definition include the “essence” and the “characteristics”

Essence – “Chronic pancreatitis is a pathologic fibro-inflammatory syndrome of the pancreas in individuals with genetic, environmental and/or other risk factors who develop persistent pathologic responses to parenchymal injury or stress”.

Characteristics – “Common features of established and advanced CP include pancreatic atrophy, fibrosis, pain syndromes, duct distortion and strictures, calcifications, pancreatic exocrine dysfunction, pancreatic endocrine dysfunction and dysplasia.”

The publication of the article in Pancreatology (the official journal of the International Association of Pancreatology) has triggered international debated and general acceptance (see below).

A video presentation of the concepts is provided here, with discussion on the official Pancreatology web site (

European Pancreas Club (EPC) and PancreasFest delegates Approve “Mechanistic Definition of Chronic Pancreatitis”

July 9, 2016.   The EPC, in conjunction with leaders of the International Association of scientist (IAP), the Japanese Pancreas Society (JPS) and the American Pancreatic Association (APA) are working to develop an international consensus on the the definition and diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis (CP).  This action is necessary because the older definitions were developed before a number of research and conceptual breakthroughs, and because of some conflicting recommendations among local, regional, national and societal recommendations.

July 26, 2016.  The PancreasFest attendees reviewed the new two-part mechanistic definition of chronic pancreatitis and voted to adopt the recommended definition and conceptual model.

The process of developing a consensus definition of CP, which was completed after two years of discussion, and publish in spring 2016 (see Pancreatology. 2016 Mar-Apr;16(2):218-24).  On July 9, 2016, in a special session, physicians and scientists attending the EPC meeting debated and then approved the new Mechanistic Definition, as published earlier this year.

Further work on Genetics, and on Pain are discussed at PancreasFest 2016 (see below), with definition and diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis discussed at the IAP meeting in Sendai Japan (August 2016).

CME Lecture – CFTR Mutations and the Pancreas.

Lecture by David C Whitcomb MD PhD.  (Link to UPMC CME)

NIDDK-NCI Fund New Pancreas Research Program

New Consortium to Study Chronic  Pancreatitis, Diabetes and Pancreatic Cancer (CSCPDPC)

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will support research into complex pancreatic diseases through the NIDDK and NCI.  The research leaders (principal investigators) and institutions include:

The Clinical Centers:

  • UC, ALIYE (University of Iowa)
  • PANDOL, STEPHEN J (Cedars Sinai LA)
  • CHARI, SURESH T. (Mayo Clinic)
  • PARK, WALYTER GWANG-UP (Stanford University)
  • FISHER, WILLIAM E (Baylor University)
  • FOGEL,EVANS (Indiana University)
  • FORSMARK, CHRISTOPHER E (University of Florida)
  • VAN DEN EEDEN, STEHPEHEN (Kaiser Foundation)
  • CONWELL, DARWIN LEWIS (Ohio State University)
  • WHITCOMB, DAVID Clement (University of Pittsburgh)

The Data Coordination and Management center:

  • FENG,ZIDING (University of Texas-MD Anderson )


CME Program on Chronic Pancreatitis

Drs Whitcomb & Forsmark discuss advances in science that translate into better treatment of chronic pancreatitis.


CME credit for physicians

YouTube Favorite 

(click on image to open a new page)

PRSS1 – Website.

A mutation web site provides information on the functional consequence of various cationic trypsinogen (PRSS1) mutations. The site is maintained by Dr. Miklos Sahin-Toth. Click here to visit.

Personalized approaches to treatment of Pancreatitis.


David Whitcomb MD PhD and Adam Slivka MD PhD discuss the advances in the treatment of pancreatitis using genetics. (View of the Whitcomb lab, University of Pittsburgh)

PEaRL .:. Pancreatitis Education and Research Letter

PEaRL news letter page – See “Patient Information” link above

previous PEaRLs PEaRL Page

Pancreas Eduction and Research News (PEARL)

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