Maria T. Abreu, M.D., a renowned gastroenterologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, was honored with the “Lifetime Disruptor” award at the American College of Gastroenterology’s 2020 virtual meeting. Healio, an in-depth specialty clinical information service, presented the award, which was based on votes from her peers.
“I am always challenging the accepted wisdom,” said Dr. Abreu, who is professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology, and director of the University of Miami Health System Crohn’s & Colitis Center. “There is always more to learn about a certain condition or treatment to see if we can do something more to help our patients.”
A leader in basic science, translational research, clinical care and education, Dr. Abreu focuses her work on finding better treatments for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other debilitating gastrointestinal conditions. She is also a leader in bringing the genetic and environmental factors of IBD development in the Hispanic population into research and clinical care.
“In my laboratory work, I look for new approaches to improving patient care, such as reducing an inflammatory response from the immune system or providing a healthy diet to reduce IBD flare-ups,” she said.
The Healio “Lifetime Disruptor” award, presented this year on Oct. 26, goes to a gastroenterologist or hepatologist who has consistently pushed the gastroenterology field forward through innovative treatments, practice management, patient care, or research. This year more than 1,000 readers and followers voted on eight awards for Healio Disruptive Innovators.
In 2019 Dr. Abreu received the Sherman prize awarded by The Bruce and Cynthia Sherman Charitable Foundation to recognize outstanding achievements in the fight to overcome Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. “Taking care of patients and finding new ways to help them has been my life’s purpose,” she said at the time. “That’s what inspires my research – the possibility of helping both my patients, as well as those that I’ll never see.”
Earlier this year, Dr. Abreu was honored with the “Research Mentor Award” by the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute Council’s Immunology, Microbiology & Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Section. “It is so important to be educating and mentoring young professionals and help them move ahead with their careers,” Dr. Abreu said. “They are the future of medicine.”