The Sherman Prize: David Rubin, MD

Dr Rubin discusses his work at the University of Chicago in the relationship of inflammation to colorectal cancer, his clinical research at the Rubin Lab, and his lifelong commitment to advocating for his patients to ensure they receive the care they need, which has led to his recognition as a 2020 Sherman Prize winner.


David T. Rubin, MD, is chief of gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition, Joseph B Kirsner professor of medicineand codirector of the Digestive Diseases Center at UChicago Medicine.



Hi, I'm Dr. David Rubin. I'm at the University of Chicago. I'm truly honored to be one of the recipients this year of the Sherman Prize. I want to especially thank Bruce and Cynthia Sherman for creating this incredible award and acknowledging the colleagues of ours who have contributed to IBD.

As a recipient of the award this year, I think it's important to highlight some of the priorities that we have in the field of IBD, which has really given me direction and helped give character to my career. That's specifically the role of working together to address many of the different challenges people with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis live with.

I run a laboratory group that focuses predominantly on clinical research and outcomes‑based research. I'm really fortunate to work with a diverse group of individuals. Our original work was related to understanding some of the risks for pre‑cancer in cancer associated with colitis and demonstrating that the degree of inflammation is associated with those outcomes.

Not only has that been an important finding and contributed to what others have shown but also has led to our work progressing then to thinking about how can we measure and how can we manage inflammation more effectively. I've really been a proponent of this concept of disease modification in IBD.

A lot of the work that our lab group has done and the outcomes we've done looking at novel therapies as well as considering how it impacts the quality of life of patients; this has driven the work that we continue to do.

In addition, I've always been an advocate of using technology to improve how we deliver care. That has led to some of the work with biosensors and specifically looking at Fitbit devices and other ways to measure our normal physiology and try to assess whether that can be predictive of IBD‑related relapses.

For example, physical activity, heart rate, or sleep quality, all can be used to actually understand better who is in remission, who has active disease, and most importantly, use it as a predictor of people who are starting to have a relapse before they may even feel it.

We're excited about using that to actually transform some of the ways that we're going to monitor and manage IBD as chronic conditions.

One of the other things that I've obviously been passionate about has been advocating on behalf of our patients with IBD, whether it represents government‑level advocacy in conjunction with the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, the AGA, and the ACG, or whether it actually just represents what we all do every single day for individual patients: raising awareness about the inequities in delivery of care and some of the big challenges we face in getting our patients the treatments they need and helping people afford the care that they need. Whether it's related to advocacy, education, or ongoing research that we're doing, I just want to acknowledge that a prize like the Sherman Prize is never won in isolation.

It represents the work of so many people that come together and contribute in the best way to improving the lives of people with Crohn's and colitis. I'm truly honored to receive it and also to acknowledge all the people who've contributed to that in my life. Thank you very much.