Dr. Patricia Bloom – Connecting the Dots Between Gut Bacteria and Cirrhosis Complications

September 21, 2022

Patricia Bloom, MD, Assistant Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, is a hepatologist who diagnoses and treats patients with the multitude of conditions and diseases that can affect the liver. Dr. Bloom received her medical degree from the University of Massachusetts, and then went on to complete her residency in internal medicine, and also her fellowships in gastroenterology and transplant hepatology, at Massachusetts General Hospital. After finishing her fellowships, Dr. Bloom joined the faculty at Michigan Medicine in 2020.

Dr. Bloom focuses on building strong relationships with her patients, to better understand their disease and how it affects them, with the goal of finding the best treatment or management plan for them. When she's not caring for her patients, Dr. Bloom conducts research that examines the relationship between gut bacteria and complications of cirrhosis, and has made it her mission to find improved options to treat patients who suffer from this disease. In recognition of Dr. Bloom's research work, she was honored with the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) Clinical Research Award in 2018, American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) Advanced Hepatology Award in 2019, and the ACG Junior Faculty Development Grant in 2020.

Behind the Scenes with Dr. Patricia Bloom

Dr. Patricia Bloom

What is your research about?

My research investigates the connection between gut bacteria and complications of cirrhosis. In particular, I am trying to find ways we can influence gut bacteria in patients with cirrhosis to better treat their liver condition. For example, I am running a clinical trial of a microbiome therapeutic to treat hepatic encephalopathy, a very painful and dangerous complication of cirrhosis.

Why does this area of research speak to you?

Cirrhosis is a condition that leads to many burdensome symptoms for patients and their family members. We have some treatments for these symptoms, but not enough. Many of our patients still suffer from this condition, especially hepatic encephalopathy. In hepatic encephalopathy, patients suffer from sleep disturbance, confusion, personality changes, and can even require frequent hospitalization for these symptoms. My research is aimed at finding better treatments for these symptoms.

Dr. Bloom’s recent publications on her research include:

What is the ultimate goal of your research?

The goal of my research is to discover microbiome-based treatments for cirrhosis, which can improve the quality and quantity of life for our patients.

What are your clinical interests?

Clinically, I see patients with a wide range of liver disease in my hepatology clinic, including alcohol-related, autoimmune, inherited, medication-induced, and fatty liver disease. I also evaluate patients for liver transplant and treat patients after their liver transplant. Finally, I perform upper endoscopy and colonoscopy in our medical procedure unit. Watch Dr. Bloom talk more about her work in the clinic.

How did you become interested in the above?

I enjoy treating liver disease for a few reasons. First, many liver diseases are chronic and require a long-term relationship between the patient and the liver doctor. I enjoy building that long-term relationship with patients, learning over time what their preferences and goals are. Second, we have many treatments for liver disease! I enjoy how much we can do to improve the quality and quantity of liver in clinic. Third (and this is the nerdiest answer), I find liver disease very interesting. The biology of the liver is fascinating and throughout training, I found it to be a vital and interesting organ to focus on.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Professionally, I am most proud of the clinical trials I've performed in the past and currently. Clinical trials are vital to making progress in medicine.

Personally, I am proud that I was able to finish a half marathon recently. No, I am never running a full marathon!

What advice would you give to someone who is considering specializing in hepatology?

Do it. Hepatology is an incredible and fulfilling field, with a great future ahead.

What gives you the most satisfaction in your job?

Getting a patient through a liver transplant. Nothing beats helping a person get a second chance.

Is there a moment when you knew you had chosen the right career?

Every day I come to work.

Who has inspired you the most?

Not to be cheesy (but it's a cheesy question, so I think I get to), but my mom is my inspiration. She came to America when she was 18 years old, knowing no one here. Since then, she has raised a family, runs a successful business, and is just a model human overall.

More about Dr. Bloom…

You can find all of her publications and read more about her research at Michigan Research Experts

You can keep up with what she's doing on twitter @BloomPringle.