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Gary Falk is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Department of Gastroenterology. He obtained his undergraduate degree in Biology/Geology from the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY, where he stayed on for his medical degree. From there, he did his medical residency at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, DC, and his Gastroenterology clinical and research fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. While in Ann Arbor, his division head was Dr Tadataka Yamada, and he worked in the laboratory of Dr Chung Owyang.
Professor Falk's initial interest was in GI motility, but has changed over the years to focus on esophageal diseases, in particular Barrett's esophagus, after moving to the Cleveland Clinic in 1986.
He is currently on the Governing Board of the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and the American Digestive Health Foundation.
He is married to Lynn Shesser and has one daughter, Amy, and one son, David.
- What made you decide to become a gastroenterologist?
- During my first month as a junior resident at the Washington VA Medical Center, my ward attending was David Fleischer. He was an ideal role model, and, after seeing him in action, I became very interested in digestive diseases. Furthermore, the nature of the disease processes involving gastroenterology were especially interesting to me.
- Who was the teacher you admired the most?
- I have been blessed to have many outstanding teachers over the years. These include David Fleischer in Washington, Timothy Nostrant, Tadataka Yamada, and Chung Owyang at the University of Michigan, and Joel Richter here at the Cleveland Clinic.
- Which research paper influenced you the most?
- The work by Doug Levine in the area of high-grade dysplasia in Barrett's esophagus stimulated my interest in this field (Gastroenterology 1994 Jun;106(6):1589-95).
- What is the most important fact that you have discovered?
- The most important study that I have been involved with was Joe Vicari's work, where I served as his research mentor. This study found a potential protective role for H. pylori in gastroesophageal reflux disease and its complications (Gastroenterology 1998; 115: 50-7).
- What is the biggest mistake that you have made?
- Probably the biggest mistake I made was to leave the University of Michigan prematurely. I spent my first few years at the Cleveland Clinic floundering as I struggled to develop my clinical research interests. Additional investment of time at the University of Michigan would have been invaluable.
- What is your unfulfilled ambition?
- My greatest unfulfilled ambition professionally is to obtain funding from the NIH.
- How do you relax?
- Many would say that I never do relax! However, I do find the time to go swimming or running every morning. In addition, I enjoy "dates" with my wife and the duties of being a father.
- What is your favorite sport?
- That's easy. If given the opportunity, I would ski every day each winter.
- What is your best place in the world?
- The place in the world associated with my fondest memories is my aunt and uncle's former dairy farm in upstate New York. Some of the happiest days of my childhood were spent at this wonderful location.
- What car do you drive?
- Volvo S80.
- What is your best electronic 'toy'?
- What book are you reading at the moment?
- "Failure is not an option" by Gene Krantz.
- Why did you get in involved in GastroHep.com?
- I thought the electronic media for communication was intriguing. Futhermore, I think that Roy Pounder has done nice work over the years. We will see how things work out.