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SLU Pediatrician, Researcher Named Next President of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN)

Ajay Jain, M.D., Takes the Helm of ASPEN’s 2024-2025 Board of Directors

The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) announced Monday, June 4, that Saint Louis University physician Ajay Jain, M.D., will be the organization’s next president.

Jain is a professor of pediatrics, pharmacology, and physiology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. He also serves as chief of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition; director of Pediatric Liver Transplantation; and director of the Healthy First Program at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.

Ajay Jain, M.D.

Ajay Jain, M.D., is a professor of pediatrics, pharmacology, and physiology. Submitted photo. 

“My focus is to provide the best possible care to patients through relentless clinical and research innovation and facilitate the next generation of leaders,” said Jain. “ASPEN has had a major impact on my career—they have been instrumental in developing evidence-based nutrition guidelines and policies, conducting research, pioneering the global Malnutrition Awareness Week initiative, and educating healthcare professionals to improve patient outcomes. It is truly an honor to serve as president of ASPEN.”

An active and engaged ASPEN member since 2014, Jain has chaired the Research Committee and served on the Dudrick International Award Committee and the board of the Rhoads Research Foundation. Since 2020, he has also served on ASPEN’s Board of Directors, Physician Engagement Committee, Program and Pediatric Program Committees, and the Dudrick International Award Committee.

“Dr. Jain brings a unique breadth of knowledge that will aid ASPEN in meeting today’s challenges. He is not only a caring clinician, outstanding researcher, inventor, and innovator, but he also has a firm grasp on the business of medicine. He understands our changing healthcare model and the connection between providing better care and its delivery at an equitable cost,” said ASPEN’s 46th President Ryan Hurt, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and director for the Home Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition Program at the Mayo Clinic.

Jain received his medical degree in 1998 from the Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India, and completed his pediatric residency there. He provided patient care at several hospitals and completed a research fellowship at the Indian Council of Medical Research in New Delhi, one of the oldest medical research bodies in the world. Jain received his Diplomate of National Board in Pediatrics in 2003.

After completing a pediatric residency at the Medical College of Georgia in 2006, Jain spent three years as a post-doctoral clinical fellow in pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition at the Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. He conducted research with Douglas Burrin, Ph.D., now a Distinguished Senior Research Scientist at USDA-ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center, Houston.

“I have had the pleasure to mentor and work with Ajay as a fellow. He is a rising star in pediatric gastroenterology and hepatology and is one of the most curious, energetic, and enthusiastic clinician research scientists I have known,” said Burrin.

In 2009, Jain joined the faculty of Saint Louis University School of Medicine. In addition to treating patients with liver and gastrointestinal diseases, he served on finance and compensation committees. It was his departmental chair who recommended that he pursue a master’s in health administration.

His interest in nutrition began during medical school when he cared for babies needing parenteral nutrition (PN). While PN sustained them, many had liver injuries that progressed as they stayed on PN and, thus, needed liver transplants. This motivated Jain to focus on novel strategies to mitigate the injuries and side effects of PN on patients.

His research is funded through several grant awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and various foundations. Jain’s contributions include groundbreaking work in parenteral nutrition-associated multisystem injury, interrogating pathways, and leading the development of novel systems to study pathogenesis, diagnosis, and therapeutic approaches for appropriate nutrition delivery and rehabilitation. 

He is also credited with developing unbiased discovery platforms and excellence in diagnostic and therapeutic testing of pediatric liver diseases and pediatric obesity.

Jain has mentored students, trainees, and faculty, served as an NIH study section panelist, has many patents, and is prominently recognized through multiple peer-reviewed publications. He has been honored with several national and international invited presentations and awards, including the Grant and John B. Watkins Award for Excellence in Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition; the Gerard Odell Prize from the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition; and ASPEN’s Stanley J. Dudrick Research Scholar Award and Harry M. Vars Award.

Jain has been recognized as “Best Doctor” for multiple consecutive years and was recently named “one of five physicians on the cutting edge of gastroenterology” by Becker’s Healthcare—GI & Endoscopy.

“There couldn’t be a more fitting clinician scientist than Dr. Jain to lead ASPEN as we mark the association’s 50th anniversary,” said ASPEN Chief Executive Officer Wanda Johnson. “A Rhoads Research Foundation Award in 2014 helped kickstart Dr. Jain’s groundbreaking research on mitigating the side effects of parenteral nutrition. Like our association’s founders, he is innovative and inventive as he searches for new answers in patient care.”

About Saint Louis University School of Medicine

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: infectious disease, liver disease, cancer, heart/lung disease, and aging and brain disorders.