The University of Arizona College of Medicine offers a three-year Gastroenterology fellowship program (clinical track) combining clinical training, education and research opportunities at Banner University Medical Center-Tucson, Tucson VA Medical Center and the Banner University Medical Center-South Campus. The Gastroenterology Fellowship program is fully accredited (most recently for 5 years) by the ACGME. Number of fellows: 2-3 per year.

Program Overview:

Clinical training is provided at the Banner-University Tucson (main teaching hospital) , the Tucson VA Medical Center and at Banner-University South hospital. The combined program offers access to approximately 750 beds, a diverse patient population, renowned faculty and opportunities for research.

All fellows rotate through continuity clinics, one half-day per week with an attending for periods of six months, leading to one-on-one instruction in six different areas of digestive disorders. Fellows attend additional clinics during Hepatology months and at the VA.  There are three State of the Art endoscopy centers that perform basic and advanced procedures.  First year fellows are provided endoscopy rotations free from inpatient consultation duties. Established metrics are used for monitoring progress and determining competence in endoscopic skills. Instruction is also provided in esophageal and anorectal motility, capsule endoscopy, as well as pH and impedance studies. Opportunities exist for more focused training in a fellow’s specific area of interest during the third year of the fellowship, including clinical research and advanced endoscopy. Web based interactive learning is used throughout the fellowship, with monitoring of progress. All fellows perform QA/QI and Systems – based projects.  Fellows are expected to identify a research project and mentor in the first year, are given time to perform the research in the second year and are expected to complete, present and publish their work in the final year.  In addition, fellows are encouraged to study for a Certificate in Public Health or Translational Research through the College of Public Health at the University of Arizona.


Fellows participate in conferences within the division of GI as well as multi-disciplinary conferences:

•GI grand rounds- once a week

•Pathology conference- once a week

•Journal club- once a month

•GI Fellows' research conference- once a month

•Liver transplantation meeting- once a week

•Biliary-pancreatic cancer multidisciplinary conference- once a week

•Optical Imaging Research Conference - Monthly - 2nd Friday

•IBD Pathology Conference - Monthly - 2nd and 4th Monday

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Nutrition Education Module


The faculty of the Division of GI are involved in a variety of clinical, translational and basic research projects in the digestive tract, liver and pancreas. The faculty work closely with the Arizona Cancer Center, the only NCI designated cancer center in the southwest. The University of Arizona has top rated researchers and unparalleled resources in optical sciences and biomedical engineering. The following list gives a selection of research interests of current GI faculty members.

BARRETT’S ESOPAHGUS– Karyometry to identify the presence of or predict the future development of dysplasia.  Development of 3-D in-vivo multiphoton imaging.

TUMOR IMAGING: Use of receptor-targeted microbubbles for the identification of cancer at surgical margins.  Project involves ligand development, micro- / nano- bubbles, multi-photon microscopy, optical coherence tomography, murine models of cancer. 

NOVEL IMAGING DEVICE DEVELOPMENT:  New optical instrument design and prototype development to enhance vision beyond the capability of human eyes.  Close collaboration with Optical Sciences.  Examples include the real-time imaging of eosinophils, direct imaging of aberrant crypts and optical devices that offer unprecedented fields of view.

COLORECTAL CANCER: Clinical and translational research on the prevention and early detection of colorectal cancer. This includes high throughput studies using human biospecimens to study the molecular pathology and genetic epidemiology of colorectal cancer, phase III chemoprevention studies for its prevention and comparative effectiveness research on methods for colorectal cancer screening.

ADVANCED ENDOSCOPY:  pancreatic cystic lesions, double balloon enteroscopy.

MOTILITY: Mechanisms of gastro esophageal reflux in a state of the art physiology/motility lab equipped with cutting edge devices that can assess GI physiology.


Dr. Desai’s long-term research goals are focused on health services research in hepatology with the broad aims of eliminating health care disparities while improving the quality of medical care for patients with chronic liver disease. She is conducting studies to evaluate the impact of health care delivery models on the quality of care for patients with cirrhosis. The results of these stuides will inform us of the current gaps in care for patients with liver disease and the reasons that underpin the quality chasm in hepatology in a high risk underserved patient population.  

LIVER INSTITUTE (CLINICAL): Clinical research activities of the Liver Research Institute include trials to evaluate the performance of FDA-approved and prospective drugs for the treatment of Hepatitis C. Various categories of drugs under investigation include viral protease inhibitors, cytokines, and drugs to support blood platelet levels. Additionally, a trial to evaluate a vaccine against Hepatitis C is underway.

Several trials to evaluate drugs for the treatment of NASH, non-alcoholic steohepatitis, and for the prevention of Hepatic carcinoma (a type of cancer) are also being conducted.

Prerequisites for Application:

•Graduate from a medical school recognized by the ACGME or Graduate of foreign medical schools who have a valid certificate from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates.

•All fellows must have proof of passing all parts of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE), Part I, Part II and Part III.

•Either board certification in internal medicine or proof that the candidate will be board-eligible in internal medicine by the time he/she starts the fellowship.

•US citizen, permanent resident or J-1 visa status only. Our fellowship program is unable to accept candidates with H1B visas.

GI Fellowship Application Process:

*The GI Fellowship program offered at the University of Arizona College of Medicine is a clinical track with opportunities for clinical and translational research.

Applications should be through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS), and will be part of the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). Please provide all information requested by ERAS, including the following:

Three (3) letters of recommendation, a letter/evaluation from the Department Chair or Training Program Director, a personal statement, current CV and a copy of medical diploma are required.