Alain J. Benitez, MD

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Alain J. Benitez, MD, is the Director of Clinical Research with the Suzi and Scott Lustgarten Center for GI Motility at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Locations: Main Campus

Background

After completing his medical degree at Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE) in the Dominican Republic, Alain started his research career at the University of Miami focusing on autoimmune disorders. There, he not only applied his clinical experience in the design and implementation of translational research studies, but also was able to enhance his molecular biology techniques. After moving to Philadelphia, Alain took a position at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP), studying the psychosocial effect of traumatic injury in children.

In 2011, the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition became Alain’s new home where he developed clinical and animal studies focusing on inflammation, fibrosis, and microbiota of allergic disorders of the GI tract. One of his main accomplishments was joining forces with his past colleagues at CIRP in developing the first coping kit for children with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), EoE Cellie Coping Kit. Alain recently joined the Center for GI Motility where he hopes to build a comprehensive translational research program in which he would be able to study the role of brain-gut-microbiome interactions in the etiology of functional GI and motility disorders. 

Education and Training

Medical School

Doctor of Medicine - Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE), Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Titles and Academic Titles

Director of Clinical Research, Suzi and Scott Lustgarten Center for GI Motility

Departments and Services

Publications

Papers

2019

Whelan KA, Godwin BC, Wilkins B, Elci OU, Benitez A, DeMarshall M, Sharma M, Gross J, Klein-Szanto AJ, Liacouras CA, Dellon ES, Spergel JM, Falk GW, Muir AB, Nakagawa H: Persistent Basal Cell Hyperplasia Is Associated With Clinical and Endoscopic Findings in Patients With Histologically Inactive Eosinophilic Esophagitis. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. September 2019.

2018

Kasagi Y, Dods K, Wang JX, Chandramouleeswaran PM, Benitez AJ, Gambanga F, Kluger J, Ashorobi T, Gross J, Tobias JW, Klein-Szanto AJ, Spergel JM, Cianferoni A, Falk GW, Whelan KA, Nakagawa H, Muir AB.: Fibrostenotic eosinophilic esophagitis might reflect epithelial lysyl oxidase induction by fibroblast-derived TNF-α. J Allergy Clin Immunol December 2018.

Kasagi, Y.,  Chandramouleeswaran, P. M.,  Whelan, K. A.,  Tanaka, K.,  Giroux, V.,  Sharma, M.,  Wang, J.,  Benitez, A. J.,  DeMarshall, M.,  Tobias, J. W.,  Hamilton, K. E.,  Falk, G. W.,  Spergel, J. M.,  Klein-Szanto, A. J.,  Rustgi, A. K.,  Muir, A. B.,  Nakagawa, H.: The Esophageal Organoid System Reveals Functional Interplay Between Notch and Cytokines in Reactive Epithelial Changes. Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol 5(3): 333-352, March 2018.

Fahey, L. M.,  Chandramouleeswaran, P. M.,  Guan, S.,  Benitez, A. J.,  Furuta, G. T.,  Aceves, S. S.,  Wang, M. L.,  Liacouras, C. A.,  Muir, A. B.,  Sleiman, P. M.,  Hakonarson, H.,  Spergel, J. M.,  Cianferoni, A.: Food allergen triggers are increased in children with the TSLP risk allele and eosinophilic esophagitis. Clin Transl Gastroenterol 9(3): 139, March 2018.

2017

Menard-Katcher C, Benitez AJ, Pan Z, Ahmed FN1, Wilkins BJ, Capocelli K, Liacouras CA, Verma R, Spergel JM, Furuta GT, Muir AB: Influence of Age and Eosinophilic Esophagitis on Esophageal Distensibility in a Pediatric Cohort. American Journal of Gastroenterology May 2017.

Whelan, K. A.,  Merves, J. F.,  Giroux, V.,  Tanaka, K.,  Guo, A.,  Chandramouleeswaran, P. M.,  Benitez, A. J.,  Dods, K.,  Que, J.,  Masterson, J. C.,  Fernando, S. D.,  Godwin, B. C.,  Klein-Szanto, A. J.,  Chikwava, K.,  Ruchelli, E. D.,  Hamilton, K. E.,  Muir, A. B.,  Wang, M. L.,  Furuta, G. T.,  Falk, G. W.,  Spergel, J. M.,  Nakagawa, H.: Autophagy mediates epithelial cytoprotection in eosinophilic oesophagitis. Gut 66(7): 1197-1207, July 2017.

2016

Chandramouleeswaran Prasanna M, Shen Dawen, Lee Anna J, Benitez Alain, Dods Kara, Gambanga Fiona, Wilkins Benjamin J, Merves Jamie, Noah Yuliana, Toltzis Sarit, Yearley Jennifer H, Spergel Jonathan M, Nakagawa Hiroshi, Malefyt Rene deWaal, Muir Amanda B, Wang Mei-Lun: Preferential Secretion of Thymic Stromal Lymphopoietin (TSLP) by Terminally Differentiated Esophageal Epithelial Cells: Relevance to Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE). PloS one 11(3): e0150968, 2016

Muir AB, Dods K, Henry SJ, Benitez AJ, Lee D, Whelan KA, DeMarshall M, Hammer DA, Falk G, Wells RG, Spergel J, Hakagawa H, Wang ML: Eosinophilic Esophagitis-Associated Chemical and Mechanical Microenvironment Shapes Esophageal Fibroblast Behavior. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition 63(2), August 2016 Notes: DOI: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000001100.

2015

Muir Amanda B, Dods Kara, Henry Steven J, Benitez Alain J, Lee Dale, Whelan Kelly A, DeMarshall Maureen, Hammer Daniel A, Falk Gary, Wells Rebecca G, Spergel Jonathan, Nakagawa Hiroshi, Wang Mei-Lun: Eosinophilic Esophagitis Associated Chemical and Mechanical Microenvironment Shapes Esophageal Fibroblast Behavior. Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition Dec 2015.

Benitez Alain J, Hoffmann Christian, Muir Amanda B, Dods Kara K, Spergel Jonathan M, Bushman Frederic D, Wang Mei-Lun: Inflammation-associated microbiota in pediatric eosinophilic esophagitis. Microbiome 3: 23, 2015.

Merves J, Chandramouleeswaran PM, Benitez AJ, Muir AB, Lee AJ, Lim D,  Dods K, Mehta I, Ruchelli E, Nakagawa H, Spergel J, Wang ML: Altered esophageal histamine receptor expression in eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE): Implications on disease pathogenesis. PLOSone  10(2):e0114831, Feb 2015.

Muir Amanda B, Dods Kara, Noah Yuli, Toltzis Sarit, Chandramouleeswaran Prasanna Modayur, Lee Anna, Benitez Alain, Bedenbaugh Adam, Falk Gary W, Wells Rebecca G, Nakagawa Hiroshi, Wang Mei-Lun: Esophageal epithelial cells acquire functional characteristics of activated myofibroblasts after undergoing an epithelial to mesenchymal transition. Experimental cell research 330(1): 102-10, Jan 2015.

2014

Adam M Zahm, Calies Menard-Katcher, Alain J. Benitez, Daphne M Tsoucas, Claire L Le Guen, Nicholas J Hand, Joshua R Friedman: Pediatric eosinophilic esophagitis is associated with changes in esophageal microRNAs. AJP Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology 08/2014; 307(8). DOI:10.1152/ajpgi.00121.2014

2013

Muir AB, Lim DM, Benitez AJ, Chandramouleeswaran PM, Lee AJ, Ruchelli ED, Spergel JM, and Wang ML: Esophageal epithelial-mesenchymal cross-talk lead to features of epithelial to mesenchymal transition in vitro. Experimental Cell Research  319(6): 850-9, 2013.

Noti Mario, Wojno Elia D Tait, Kim Brian S, Siracusa Mark C, Giacomin Paul R, Nair Meera G, Benitez Alain J, Ruymann Kathryn R, Muir Amanda B, Hill David A, Chikwava Kudakwashe R, Moghaddam Amin E, Sattentau Quentin J, Alex Aneesh, Zhou Chao, Yearley Jennifer H, Menard-Katcher Paul, Kubo Masato, Obata-Ninomiya Kazushige, Karasuyama Hajime, Comeau Michael R, Brown-Whitehorn Terri, de Waal Malefyt Rene, Sleiman Patrick M, Hakonarson Hakon, Cianferoni Antonella, Falk Gary W, Wang Mei-Lun, Spergel Jonathan M, Artis David: Thymic stromal lymphopoietin-elicited basophil responses promote eosinophilic esophagitis. Nature medicine 19(8): 1005-13, Aug 2013.

Abstracts

2019

Rodriguez, Kelly O'Neil; Baber, Kari; Benitez, Alain Jesus;Ostapenko, Svetlana; Verma, Ritu: Demographic and Psychosocial Characteristics of Youth with Gastroparesis: a 5-year Retrospective Review of Patients Managed by Gastroenterology and Psychology. NASPGHAN Annual Meeting October  2019.

Mary Grace Murray, Julie Gang, Reshu Saxena, Alain Benitez, Maureen Demarshall, Gary Falk, Amanda Muir, Kelly Whelan: Interleukin-13-Mediated Release Of Mitochondrial Dna From Esophageal Epithelial Cells: A Novel Noninvasive Biomarker For Eosinophilic Esophagitis. NASPGHAN Annual Meeting October  2019.

Kari Baber, Ph.D., Kelly O'Neil Rodriguez, Ph.D.,  Alain Benitez, M.D., Svetlana Ostapenko, M.S., Ritu Verma, M.D.: Characterizing an Outpatient Sample of Pediatric Patients with Rumination Syndrome over a 5-Year Period NASPGHAN Annual Meeting October  2019.

Alain J. Benitez, Denis Jablonka, Varun Sahu, Craig Gluckman, Maureen DeMarshall, Svetlana Ostapenko, Gary Falk, Kristle Lynch, Calies Menard-Katcher, Amanda Muir: Sevoflurane Influences Esophagogastric Junction Distensibility In The Absence Of Esophageal Inflammation. NeuroGASTRO September 2019.

2018

Turco, Rossella; Benitez, Alain J.; Fiorino, Kristin; Mamula, Petar; Verma, Ritu; Piccoli, David; Boyle John T.: Natural History of Pediatric Achalasia: A Single Center Experience. NASPGHAN Annual Meeting  October 2018.

Benitez, Alain J.; Turco, Rossella; Shah, Amit A.; Muir, Amanda B.; Lynch, Kristle; Verma, Ritu; Fiorino, Kristin; Mamula, Petar: Esophagogastric Junction Distensibility in Pediatric Achalasia: A Useful Tool During Pneumatic Dilation. NASPGHAN Annual Meeting October 2018.

Benitez, Alain J.; Turco, Rossella; Ahmed, Faria N.; Gross, Jonathan; Li, Cynthia; Ashorobi, Tokunbo; Lynch, Kristle; Verma, Ritu; Menard-Katcher, Calies; Muir, Amanda B. : Esophagogastric Junction Distensibility is Decreased in Eosinophilic Esophagitis: Results From a Multicenter Pediatric Cohort. NASPGHAN Annual Meeting October 2018.

Benitez, Alain J.; McGar, Ashley; Kohser, Kristen; Gibbons, Troy; Muir, Amanda; Mascarenhas, Maria; Rossi, Carmen; Dogias, Francesca; Golden, Anneliese; Kassam-Adams, Nancy; Marsac, Meghan: Initial Acceptability, Feasibility and Post Intervention Efficacy Evaluation of the Cellie Coping Kit for Children with Eosinophilic Esophagitis. NASPGHAN Annual Meeting October 2018.

Webster, Jennifer; Benitez, Alain; States, Lisa; Zhuang, Hongming; Fiorino, Kristin: Study duration of gastric emptying scans in children: is longer better? Digestive Disease Week June 2018.

Lynch, Kristle L.; Benitez, Alain; Li, Cynthia; Gross, Jonathan; DeMarshall, Maureen; Falk, Gary W.; Muir, Amanda B.: Lamina propria fibrosis and eosinophil count do not correlate with esophageal distensibility in eosinophilic esophagitis. Digestive Disease Week June 2018.

Benitez, Alain J.; Turco, Rossella; Muir, Amanda; Lynch, Kristle; Fiorino, Kristin; Verma, Ritu; Mamula, Petar: Esophagogastric junction distensibility in pediatric achalasia: a useful tool during pneumatic dilation.  Digestive Disease Week June 2018.

Benitez, Alain J.; Turco, Rossella;  Ahmed, Faria; Gross, Jonathan; Li, Cynthia; Lynch, Kristle; Verma, Ritu; Menard-Katcher, Calies; Muir, Amanda: Esophagogastric junction distensibility is decreased in eosinophilic esophagitis: Results from a multicenter pediatric cohort.  Digestive Disease Week June 2018.

2017

Lynch KL, Benitez AJ, Kluger J, DeMarshall M,  Falk GW,  Muir AB: Esophageal Distensibility in Proton Pump Inhibitor Responsive Esophageal Eosinophilia Is Decreased Compared to Controls. Digestive Disease Week, Chicago, IL 2017.

Kasagi Y, Gambanga F, Whelan KA, Benitez AJ, Gross, J, Kluger J, Chandramouleeswaran P, DeMarshall M, Cianferoni A, Spergel J, Falk G, Nakagawa H, Muir AB: Lysyl oxidase is a novel fibrostenotic indicator in eosinophilic esophagitis induced via the TNFα-TGFβ axis in the epithelial-fibroblast crosstalk. Digestive Disease Week, Chicago, IL 2017.

Benitez AJ, Bittinger K, Tanes C,  Hofstaedter CE,  Kim D,  Gross J,  Spergel JM, Muir AB: Therapy associated bacterial and fungal dysbiosis in Eosinophilic Esophagitis. Digestive Disease Week, Chicago, IL  2017.

Benitez AJ, Bittinger K, Tanes C, Hofstaedter CE, Kim D, Gross J, Spergel JM, Muir AB: Therapy associated bacterial and fungal dysbiosis in Eosinophilic Esophagitis. NASPGHAN Annual Meeting  2017.

2016

Muir AB, Gambanga F, Kluger J, tanaka K, Benitez B, Modayr P, Whelan K, Nakagawa N: Epithelial-Fibroblast interaction drives pro-fibrotic milieu in eosinophilic esophagitis.  Accepted for oral presentation at Digestive Disease Week and the 117th annual meeting of the American Gastroenterological Association 2016.

Menard-Katcher C, Benitez A, Ahmed F, Kramer R, Spergel J, Verma R, Liacouras C, Nakagawa H, Furuta G, Muir AB: Esophageal distensibility provides measure of remodeling in pediatric EoE. Digestive Disease Week and the 117th annual meeting of the American Gastroenterological Association 2016.

Godwin, B. , Whelan, K., Benitez, A., Klein-Szanto, A., Spergel, J., Falk, G., Muir, A., Nakagawa, H.: Persistent Epithelial Changes in Inactive Eosinophilic Esophagitis: Is Inactive Really Inactive? Accepted for oral presentation. Digestive Disease Week and the 117th annual meeting of the American Gastroenterological Association 2016.

Posters and Presentations

2018

Benitez AJ, McGar A, Kohser K, Gibbons T, Muir A, Mascarenhas M, Rossi C, Dogias F, Golden A, Kassam-Adams N, Marsac M: Initial acceptability, feasibility and post intervention efficacy evaluation of the Cellie coping kit for children with eosinophilic esophagitis, Poster presentation. NASPGHAN Annual Meeting October 2018.

Yuta Kasagi, Kelly A. Whelan, Prasanna M. Chandramouleeswaran, Medha Sharma, Joshua Wang, Alain J. Benitez, Maureen DeMarshall, Andres J. Klein-Szanto, Veronique Giroux, Kathryn E. Hamilton, Gary W. Falk, Jonathan M. Spergel, Hiroshi Nakagawa, Amanda B. Muir: Inflammatory cytokines diminish Notch signaling to drive reactive epithelial changes in Eosinophilic Esophagitis.  Digestive Disease Week June 2018 Notes: Oral Presentation

Whelan K, Chandramouleeswaran P, Sharma M, Benitez A, DeMarshall M, Klein-Szanto A, Spergel J, Falk G, Muir A, Nakagawa H: Rapamycin-mediated autophagy activation ameliorates EoE-associated alterations in epithelial tissue architecture. Digestive Disease Week June 2018 Notes: Oral Presentation.

Muir, Amanda B.; Benitez, Alain; Turco, Rossella; Ahmed, Faria, Gross, Jonathan; Li, Cynthia; Verma, Ritu; Furuta, Glenn; Menard-Katcher, Calies D.: Esophageal distensibility in response to treatment in pediatric EoE: a prospective longitudinal study. Digestive Disease Week June 2018 Notes: Oral Presentation

Awards and Honors

2016, CHOP Cares Community Grant
2006, cum laude, Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE), Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic