John Kwon, M.D., Ph.D.

John Kwon, M.D., Ph.D., an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, leads one of the few medical programs in Texas that focuses solely on treating patients with IBD.

This singular focus allows Dr. Kwon and his team to provide a concierge level of service for those suffering from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, offering patients access to gastroenterologists, colorectal surgeons, radiologists, and pathologists in a single, convenient location.

“When patients come to UT Southwestern for their inflammatory bowel disease, they’re getting doctors, physical assistants, and staff whose sole purpose is to treat inflammatory bowel disease,” Dr. Kwon says. “Our entire team is focused on IBD. Working together in the same room, we take time to concentrate and discuss specific cases. That greatly benefits the patient.”

Leading the Search for Better Treatments

As the director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program at UT Southwestern, Dr. Kwon leads both IBD clinical and research efforts at the Medical Center. UT Southwestern is one of the few institutions in the region that focuses at both an institutional and national level on helping researchers find better treatment and diagnostic options for IBD.

And for patients suffering from IBD, this is a particularly encouraging time, with promising new treatments on the horizon.

“In the next few years, we expect at least two to three new medications to come out for ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease,” Dr. Kwon notes. “Starting in the 1960s, we went nearly 50 years with only one new class of therapies being approved. Thanks to research, we’ve seen two new therapies in the last two years and at least two new therapies coming out in the next two. For patients, it's a very exciting time.”

Understanding IBD

Dr. Kwon has been focused specifically on IBD since 2003. He says the field has always fascinated him because it encompasses so many facets of medicine.

“IBD involves both acute and chronic disease management, and it impacts patients of all ages, from children to people who are 70 years old,” he says. “Plus, it requires managing both surgical and medical options. It really involves every area of medicine.”

In addition to his clinical work with patients, Dr. Kwon’s research lab conducts translational studies on epigenetics, which explores the factors that make genes switch on and off. He and his team have been exploring the various causes of IBD, including both the genetic components and environmental factors that seem to make some people more susceptible.

His clinical patients are also an important part of Dr. Kwon’s research work. His team invites patients to consider participating in clinical trials , which can provide access to emerging treatments that are available only at UT Southwestern.

“Our goal is to create tools to help scientists both here and around the world better develop treatments and diagnoses,” Dr. Kwon says.