"I think the fact that there are so many unknown questions and answers still ongoing and I think we are at a good position to answer those questions. The fact that I can take those questions and answers and translate them into clinical medicine that may help the children get better and have fulfilled lives, maybe not now but definitely in the future, it’s a changing field, which is what is really important to me. " — Aliye Uc

Meet Aliye Uc, MD

Aliye Uc, MD, is director of the division of pediatric gastroenterology at University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. She studied at the Istanbul University School of Medicine, and completed a pediatric residency and pediatric fellowship at the University of Iowa. She joined UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital in 2000.  

Why did you decide to become a doctor?

As long as I can remember, I wanted to become a doctor. As a child, seeing my father, who was a general practitioner, and how he cared for his patients affected me deeply. When he was off duty, he would take house calls no matter what day of the week or hour of the day. I wanted to one day create that special bond my father had built with his patients. In high school, I was fascinated by science and biology, which further consolidated my decision to become a doctor.

What attracted you to the University of Iowa?

Initially, it was through my husband, Ergun Uc, MD who is a professor of neurology with University of Iowa Health Care. The strong neurology residency program attracted him here, and thus me to complete my pediatric residency and pediatric gastroenterology fellowship. It did not take me long to become a fan of the University of Iowa. In 2000, I was recruited to pediatric gastroenterology as a faculty member after spending three years in Little Rock, Arkansas. The collegiality, the collaborative spirit, the cutting-edge clinical care, and the commitment to research have pulled me back here.

What drew you to pediatrics, and specifically pediatric gastroenterology?

When I was probably 12 or 13 years old, I thought that I could make the biggest impact in children’s lives by becoming a pediatrician. It was always fun and easy to make connections with children, make them laugh, and be silly with them. My interest in pediatric gastroenterology started during my pediatric residency in Turkey. Pediatric gastroenterology was not a very established fellowship then, and many of our questions remained unanswered. I was always drawn to understanding the unknown. That was a major factor for me in coming to the U.S. to train in pediatric gastroenterology.

What is your interest in research?

I was always interested in academics, but I was not involved in research until I was a first-year pediatric gastroenterology fellow at the University of Iowa. My research interest is in pancreatic disorders, pancreatitis, and cystic fibrosis (CF) – related pancreatic diseases. I collaborate with world-renowned CF researchers on the unique animal models developed here at the University of Iowa. I study the mechanisms of CF-related pancreatic disease in animal models. I am also the principal investigator of the first National Institute of Health-funded multicenter, multinational pediatric pancreatitis registry, the International Study group of Pediatric Pancreatitis: In search for a Cure (INSPPIRE). In pancreatitis, children suffer from acute, sometimes recurrent or chronic, inflammation and debilitating pain. The lives of these patients and families are dramatically altered by multiple hospital admissions, along with physical, emotional, and social stress. Little is known about these diseases in pediatrics. We have found that pancreatitis in children has distinct risk factors compared to adults. For example, alcohol and smoking are more common in adults versus in children, and genetic and anatomical factors are predominant. The socioeconomic burden of pancreatitis in children is also enormous. It is amazing that pancreatic diseases in children have not received much attention for so many years. We learned a lot within the last eight years since we built INSPPIRE, but still have ways to go before we find a cure.

What is your favorite part of UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital?

It is the most modern and advanced children’s hospital that I have ever visited. All the rooms are private and spacious with attractive design, colors, and advanced electronic systems, all dedicated to children and families’ health, safety, and comfort. Being able to concentrate all pediatric-focused expertise—including generalists, pediatric specialists, surgeons, anesthesiologists, radiology, nursing, procedures and ancillary services—under one roof is absolutely amazing. This comprehensive pediatric hospital is something that the state of Iowa should be proud of.

What is the best part of your job?

Being able to make a positive change through patient care, research, teaching, and communication. I also enjoy building strong collaborations and using team science to address complex problems, mentoring younger generations and seeing them become independent and contributing members of the [medical] society, and improving the health of children with gastrointestinal (GI) diseases.

Pediatric gastroenterology is a well-respected division that also includes pediatric hepatology, pancreatology, and nutrition. In our division, we have excellent faculty and staff dedicated to patient care and teaching. My goal is to expand our clinical services to provide compassionate and cutting-edge clinical care to children with GI illnesses and train future generations with a quest to learn, teach, and integrate new knowledge from research to clinical care to best serve our patients. 




Pediatric Specialties

  • Gastroenterology


200 Hawkins Drive
Iowa City, IA 52242



MD, University of Istanbul, Istanbul


Pediatrics, University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, Iowa City, Iowa


Pediatric Gastroenterology, University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, Iowa City, Iowa

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Cancer Research Program

Program 3: Free Radical Metabolism and Imaging (FRMI)

Cancer Center Membership Status

Full Member

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4.77 out of 5 (58 ratings)