The history of The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center

The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center was founded in 2001 by Dr. Stefano Guandalini, a world-renowned pediatric gastroenterologist and celiac disease expert.
Read more about Dr. Guandalini.

Largely meant to combat the misconception that celiac disease is a rare disease and to properly educate both the general public and the medical profession, The Celiac Disease Center got its start as The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Program with the help of Robin Steans and Leonard Gail, parents of one of Dr. Guandalini’s celiac disease patients at the University of Chicago. Dr. Guandalini, originally from Rome, Italy, was shocked to learn how few Americans were diagnosed with celiac disease when he came to the United States in the late 1990s. Dr. Guandalini quickly discovered the reason for the lack of diagnoses in the United States.  It wasn’t that celiac disease was less common (in fact, current research shows that celiac disease occurs in approximately 1 in 100 Americans); rather, it was that US medical doctors had for years been taught that celiac disease was extremely rare. Therefore, they were not screening patients for the disease.

Determined to raise awareness, education, and diagnosis rates, and to get research underway, Dr. Guandalini joined forces with the Steans-Gail family and established a passionate advisory board and a bold mission: to cure celiac. As The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center focuses on research toward the cure, we also aim at raising awareness and diagnosis rates through education and advocacy. In 2007, as a result of its success, the organization was renamed The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center.

In 2014 The Friends of The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center was established. The Friends of The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center Founding Board is made up of a passionate group of individuals who have committed to The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center for many years.

This unique Board leads fundraising and awareness efforts across the country.  Serving as champions and mentors, the Board is the primary network to assist anyone interested in raising funds through local events and promotions toward the broader work of The Center.  Those who host or co-host an event or promotion which raises $2,500 or more per calendar year will be listed on www.cureceliacdisease.org  as a “Friend of the University of Chicago Celiac Center” for that year.

In addition to conducting leading research and providing education and patient services for celiac disease, The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center consists of a network of doctors who specialize in neurology, infertility, thyroid disease, dermatology, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases and disorders that are often associated with celiac disease.  These specialists collaborate to offer comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center is led by the medical director and executive director and is supported by a talented and diverse advisory board consisting of doctors, dietitians, nurses, business people, and lay people, each of whom has a special interest in celiac disease and is dedicated to the mission of the organization.

Since its founding, The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center has directly assisted more than 100,000 people throughout the United States. The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center continues to advance, maintaining its status as a leading authority on celiac disease. We are completely funded by donations.