Meet the Experts
Ellen Li, MD, PhD. Dr. Li focuses her clinical practice on inflammatory bowel diseases and colon cancer. She received both her medical degree and doctorate from Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri. After pursuing internal medicine training at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, she returned to Washington University for a fellowship in gastroenterology. Dr. Li subsequently joined the faculty as a Professor of Medicine and Director of a NIDDK sponsored Digestive Diseases Research Core Center. Two years ago, she moved to Stony Brook Medicine, where in addition to seeing patients, she leads research into the role of the gut microbiome on digestive diseases. Learn more about Dr. Li.
Ramona Rajapakse, MD, FRCP(UK) Dr. Rajapakse, an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine and board-certified gastroenterologist, is a specialist in inflammatory bowel disease. She obtained her medical degree from the Royal College of Dublin, Ireland, followed by an additional two years of training in the United Kingdom, where she obtained Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCPUK). She then pursued an internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship at Lenox Hill Hospital/NYU in New York City. Dr. Rajapakse joined the faculty of Stony Brook Medicine in 2000. In addition to publishing and lecturing widely, she is involved in ongoing clinical trials for IBD and teaches medical students, residents and fellows. Her other clinical interests include general gastroenterology and women’s GI health. Learn more about Dr. Rajapakse.
Robert J. Richards, MD. Dr. Richards has more than 15 years’ experience in treating gastrointestinal disorders, with specialized expertise on Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. A graduate of New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY, he completed his gastrointestinal training at the Yale University Program of Bridgeport Hospital, Bridgeport, CT. He then went on to Harvard University, Boston, where he obtained a master's degree in health policy. Dr. Richards has received several prestigious NIH awards and has published more than 25 articles in peer-reviewed medical journals. In addition, he also gives numerous local and national lectures on inflammatory bowel diseases. Learn more about Dr. Richards.
Isabelle M. von Althen, MD. A specialist in women’s gastrointestinal health, Dr. von Althen is a board-certified gastroenterologist and the director of the fellowship program in gastroenterology at Stony Brook School of Medicine. She received her medical degree from the University of Ottawa, followed by a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in gastroenterology at Toronto University. In practice for 20 years, Dr. von Althen first worked at Stony Brook Medicine from 2001 to 2005, then returned in 2008 to teach gastroenterology fellows. Her clinical interests include general gastroenterology, inflammatory bowel disease, and liver and biliary endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). Learn more about Dr. von Althen.
Jeffrey Morganstern, MD. Dr. Morganstern is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and an expert on pediatric gastrointestinal conditions. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Dr. Morganstern attended Stony Brook School of Medicine. He completed his residency in general pediatrics at Schneider Children's Hospital (now Cohen Children's Medical Center) in 2003, followed by a fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology at The Children's Hospital at Montefiore. He returned to Stony Brook in 2006, where he currently maintains a busy practice, treating children with a variety of gastrointestinal conditions. Dr. Morganstern has a special interest in inflammatory bowel disease and is involved in a multicenter patient registry dedicated to better defining the natural history of IBD in children and adolescents. Learn more about Dr. Morganstern.
Paula Denoya, MD, FACS. Dr. Denoya is a colorectal surgeon with specialized expertise in minimally invasive surgery, preoperative surgery and anorectal reconstruction. She studied medicine and completed her residency in general surgery at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, NY, and then pursued specialty colorectal surgery training at the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, FL. She is currently a full-time colorectal surgeon at Stony Brook Medicine. Her interests include colorectal cancer, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis and fecal incontinence. Dr. Denoya teaches medical students, residents and fellows at Stony Brook School of Medicine and is actively involved in clinical research activities relating to colorectal diseases. Learn more about Dr. Denoya.
Leighann Litcher-Kelly, PhD. Dr. Litcher-Kelly is a health psychologist whose research examines the interaction between the psychosocial environment and symptomatology in people with chronic autoimmune disease. As a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stony Brook’s Applied Behavioral Medicine Research Institute, she pursues her interest in the relationship between stress and symptom exacerbation/relapse in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Specifically, she looks at how this relationship can be moderated using stress-reduction techniques such as relaxation, mindfulness or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Other research interests include conceptualizing chronic illness as a chronic stressor and how this affects the patient’s ability to handle daily stress, and the interaction between psychological risk and resiliency factors and environmental triggers to include risk of chronic gut inflammation.