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Board Members » William Whitehead



William E. Whitehead

William E. Whitehead, PhD

Professor of Medicine and OBGYN
Director, UNC Center for Functional GI and Motility Disorders
Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
UNC School of Medicine
Chapel Hill, NC, USA


Dr. William Whitehead came to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1993 to establish a gastrointestinal motility diagnostic laboratory. His research interests focus on the pathophysiology and treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), fecal incontinence, and constipation. His IBS studies focus on visceral pain sensitivity, genetics, diagnostic criteria, and the comorbidity with other somatic and psychiatric disorders. His pelvic floor research focuses on the treatment of constipation and fecal incontinence with biofeedback, drugs, and education.

Dr. Whitehead is a full-time researcher with continuous NIH funding since 1978. Currently he is principal investigator of two RO1 grants from NIDDKD ("Psychophysiology of Irritable Bowel Syndrome" and "Biofeedback for Fecal Incontinence and Constipation"). He shares the principal investigator role on an infrastructure grant titled "Gastrointestinal Biopsychosocial Research Program," and participates extensively in mentoring junior faculty and research fellows. He is also co-investigator on multiple NIH project grants dealing with the treatment of pediatric functional gastrointestinal disorders with cognitive behavior therapy and hypnosis, the treatment of adult IBS with complimentary medicine techniques, and the treatment of pelvic floor disorders with surgical and behavioral approaches. Dr. Whitehead is a member of the planning committee for the NIH State of the Science Conference on the Prevention of Fecal and Urinary Incontinence, a fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology and the American Gastroenterological Association, and a member of the board of the Rome Foundation. He is also a member of the GCRC advisory council at UNC and Co-Director of the UNC Center for Functional GI and Motility Disorders. He has published more than 200 articles, books, and book chapters on functional gastrointestinal disorders.