Meet our experts and staff
Dedication and commitment to the celiac disease community
The University of Chicago is fortunate to have world-renowned celiac disease experts leading the organization, including:
- Stefano Guandalini, MD
- Bana Jabri, MD, PhD
- Carol Semrad, MD
- Sonia Kupfer, MD
- Lara Field, MS, RD, CSP, LDN
- Lori Rowell Welstead, MS, RD, LDN
- Carol McCarthy Shilson, Executive Director
- Ronit Rose, Program Director
- Diane McKiernan, Research Study Coordinator
In addition to our lean staff, The Celiac Disease Center is supported by a dynamic team of doctors, nurses, and registered dietitians as well as an expansive network of doctors in related specialties.
Professor of Pediatrics, University of Chicago
Chief of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition University of Chicago Children’s Hospital
Founder and Medical Director, The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center
Dr. Guandalini is founder and medical director of The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. Dr. Guandalini received his medical degree from the University of Messina, Italy, in 1971, where he graduated with high honors. After his pediatric residency at the University of Messina, he completed his fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology at the prestigious University of Naples, where he became an assistant professor. He spent 2 years (1977-1979) as a research associate in the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago, where he did active bench research on the pathophysiology of diarrheal disease. Shortly after he returned to Italy, he received a promotion to associate professor and then became a full professor at the University of Naples in 1988. From 1990 to 1995, Dr. Guandalini served as the Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Catanzaro.
Dr. Guandalini’s scientific and professional career has focused on diarrheal diseases of children, with a major emphasis on celiac disease. In 1990, he coordinated a national effort in Italy resulting in the publication of the largest series of patients ever published, which resulted in the revision of the 20-year-old European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) guidelines for diagnosing celiac disease. These new guidelines are currently used worldwide for both pediatric and adult celiac disease patients.
Dr. Guandalini joined the University of Chicago Department of Pediatrics in 1996, where he serves as section chief of the Department of Pediatrics Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition.
Dr. Guandalini was president of ESPGHAN from 1998 to 2001, and was selected from a worldwide pool of candidates as the first president of the Federation of International Societies for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (FISPGHAN). Dr. Guandalini was born in Rome, and spent his childhood in Messina, Italy, where his mother’s family originated. His father’s family is from the northern Italian town of Modena.
Professor, Department of Medicine and Pediatrics
Director of Research, The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center
Dr. Jabri is one of the leading researchers of celiac disease in the world and has directed the research team at The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center since 1999. With her leadership, The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center research team continues to make great strides in determining what triggers the abnormal reaction to gluten in celiac disease and is working toward finding a cure for the disease.
Dr. Jabri is a professor in the departments of medicine, pathology, and pediatrics at the University of Chicago Medical Center and is a member of the Committee on Immunology. She is also co-director of the University of Chicago Digestive Disease Research Core Center.
Dr. Jabri completed her residency in pediatric gastroenterology in 1991 at the Assistance Publique Hopitaux de Paris, and received her PhD in immunology at the University Paris, VII in 1996. From 1999 to 2002, Dr. Jabri worked in research at Princeton University, after which she joined the University of Chicago. During this period, she served as ad-hoc reviewer for the Celiac Program Project at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.
She has coauthored numerous articles in peer-reviewed publications on celiac disease and other digestive disorders. She has also been awarded the coveted Warren Prize for Excellence in Celiac Disease Research—a first for anyone in the United States. One area of focus of Dr. Jabri’s current research is on discovering markers that can identify gluten sensitivity before antibodies to gluten are present. She has received grant support for this work from the NIH.
Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine
Division of Gastroenterology & Nutrition
Director of Adult Clinical Research, The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center
Dr. Semrad is the primary adult celiac disease specialist at the University of Chicago and part of the medical leadership of The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center.
Dr. Semrad is a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center and received her MD from Columbia University in New York in 1982. She completed her residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in gastroenterology at the Presbyterian Hospital in New York. She also completed a visiting clinical fellowship in nutrition at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. From 1990 until 2003, Dr. Semrad continued to work in various capacities at Presbyterian Hospital, New York Presbyterian, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, including a position as associate attending physician from 1999 to 2003 at New York Presbyterian Hospital.
In 2003, Dr. Semrad accepted a position as associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center. She specializes in adult celiac disease at the university, as well as diarrheal infections, malabsorption syndromes, and nutrition. She is the recipient of a number of awards, including the American Gastroenterological Association’s Senior Research Fellow Award and Research Scholar Award, and Columbia University Chapter Outstanding Woman Physician Award. She has also authored or coauthored numerous peer-reviewed articles, including “Bone Mass and Gastrointestinal Disease” (Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2000;904:564-570) and “Seeing the Light with Celiac” (Clinical Immunology 2005;115:236-238).
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Department of Gastroenterology
Director of Clinical Genetic Research, The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center
Dr. Kupfer is an adult gastroenterologist at the University of Chicago. Dr. Kupfer grew up in Highland Park, Illinois, and attended Yale University for undergraduate studies. She completed medical school, residency, and gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Chicago.
In 2005, Dr. Kupfer served as a chief resident in internal medicine. Her clinical work and research are focused on inherited gastrointestinal disorders, including celiac disease and hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes. She is currently funded by a career development grant from the NIH.
She is a board member of The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center and gives presentations on celiac disease both locally and regionally. Dr. Kupfer lives in Hyde Park with her husband and two children.
Lara Field, MS, RD, CSP, LDN is a pediatric dietitian specializing in digestive diseases, including celiac disease and food allergies. Lara not only utilizes creative ways to plan a healthful menu, but also teaches parents techniques that will leave a lasting, healthy impression on their children while managing their food intolerance.
Lara always has had a passion for kids’ nutrition. She has over nine years experience in clinical practice at two of the top ranked pediatric hospitals in the country, our own University of Chicago Medical Center, and Children’s Memorial Hospital.
Lara is board certified as a specialist in pediatric nutrition (CSP) and has completed the requirements of the Food Allergy & Intolerance Management & PAC Registered Dietitian Consultant Training Program. She is interviewed frequently in various nationwide media, including WGN, WCIU, Fitness, Men’s Health, Runner’s World, and Kiwi magazines and quoted in numerous publications on her perspective on celiac disease and the gluten-free diet.
Lara received her Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She completed her Master’s of Science degree and dietetic internship at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Lori Rowell Welstead, MS, RD, LDN, is a Registered Dietitian and works within the Section of Gastroenterology as their Outpatient Dietitian. She sees a variety of adult patients with gastrointestinal conditions ranging from Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), fatty liver and obesity. She provides dietary education and counseling to these patients to help manage their condition and improve their quality of life.
Lori has a passion for promoting health and wellness through nutrition education. She helps individuals develop realistic, gradual changes that are tailored to personal preferences and lifestyle. Lori aims to motivate and inspire individuals to enjoy and incorporate nutritious foods into their life.
Lori earned her B.S. in Food, Nutrition, and Dietetics at Illinois State University, as well as her M.S. in a combined dietetic internship program with an emphasis on research in nutrition. She co-authored a chapter regarding weight control in Dr. Felix Bronner’s Nutritional and Clinical Management of Chronic Conditions and Diseases. She has also written articles for the Gastrointestinal Research Foundation (GIRF) as well as the American Liver Foundation and Impact, the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center’s newsletter. She has patient as well as professional lectures, including the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) Illinois’ chapter symposium. She has also volunteered at a variety of Chicago institutions including CommunityHealth, the largest free clinic in the state of Illinois, and Erie House, and has conducted cooking classes and grocery store tours. Lori is also certified in Adult Weight Management by the American Dietetic Association.
Mrs. Shilson is a former publishing and public relations executive who joined The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center as executive director in February 2007. Mrs. Shilson has served as deputy press secretary to the lieutenant governor of the State of Illinois; public relations director and associate production director with Chicago magazine; and, most recently, as senior vice president of Imagination Publishing, a leading custom publishing firm based in Chicago.
Mrs. Shilson was biopsy diagnosed with celiac disease in 2005 (after more than 10 years of misdiagnosis) and is a passionate advocate for celiac disease. She is the youngest of 12 children, is an avid tennis player, was raised in Detroit, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.
Ms. Rose joined The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center in 2004 and has been an integral part of the organization’s success.
Ms. Rose has a background in journalism and is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College. She is responsible for publishing The Celiac Disease Center’s newsletter Impact and also oversees the Annual Blood Screening and the Care Package Program as well as many other programs.
Ms. McKiernan serves as our research study coordinator, organizing administrative and clinical aspects of several research projects at the Celiac Disease Center. She is a graduate of Simmons College in Boston, where she majored in environmental chemistry and minored in sustainability. During this time, she worked at the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and then continued on to work in Oncology Translational Medicine at Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research. Diane was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2009 while in college, and since then has found a passion for celiac research and education.