Mount Sinai has been on the forefront of research, identification, and treatment of gastrointestinal illness since the division's early days. In the first part of the twentieth century, gastric secretion and duodenal contents were studied with the use of Rehfus tubes. An outpatient clinic was founded and devoted solely to GI diseases in 1913.

Some of the key researchers of that era, including Drs. A.A. Berg, Burrill Crohn, Eli Moschcowitz, Leon Ginzburg, Ralph Colp, Percy Klingenstein, and Gordon Oppenheimer, gave their medical and surgical services to Mount Sinai. In 1920, Drs. Eli Moschcowitz and A.O. Wilensky published a clinical and pathological study of intestinal granulomas.

Mount Sinai was the source of the seminal paper in 1932 by Drs. Crohn, Ginzburg, and Oppenheimer describing "regional ileitis." Dr. A.A. Berg, a disciple of Dr. Henry Billroth, perfected the subtotal gastrectomy for the treatment of peptic ulcer. In 1933, the drip treatment for peptic ulcer was described by Dr. Asher Winkelstein. 1936 saw the establishment of a dedicated research laboratory for the study of gastric secretions by Dr. Franklin Hollander, who originated the Hollander Test for completeness of vagotomy.

Stimulated by rapid technological advances, important new understanding of and approaches to gastroenterological problems burgeoned in the middle of the century. Drs. Hans Popper and Fenton Schaffner made great discoveries that expanded our knowledge of cirrhosis and hepatitis. Drs. Bernard Wolf and Richard Marshak elucidated the radiological changes in esophagitis, hiatal hernia, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Dr. John Garlock perfected the surgery of esophageal malignancy and inflammatory bowel disease. Dr. Henry Janowitz contributed to our understanding of peptic ulcer, elucidated the natural history of inflammatory bowel disorders, and together with Dr. David Dreiling, studied pancreatic secretion in the normal and diseased states. The important role of immunosuppressive therapy in inflammatory bowel disease was defined by Drs. Daniel Present and Burton Korelitz. Dr. Jerome Waye pioneered and perfected the use of GI endoscopy without fluoroscopy, making colonoscopy a practical tool for every gastroenterologist. A recent list of the top 50 most influential gastroenterology professionals of the 20th Century included six individuals from Mount Sinai — more than any other institution in the nation.

In 1958, the National Institutes of Health recognized the importance of Mount Sinai as a research center with a grant for gastroenterology fellowship training. This prestigious grant was re-awarded in 2000 as a combined GI/Liver training grant, making Mount Sinai currently the only medical school in the New York metropolitan area with this award.

The novel agent, vedolizumab, was approved by the FDA in spring 2014 for the treatment of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Landmark papers in the New England Journal of Medicine and Gastroenterology written by Drs. Sands and Colombel, along with others from the division, were published this year as part of the GEMINI I, II and III studies to demonstrate the drug’s efficacy and safety.