Dr. Anjana Pillai is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. She completed her medical degree at the University of Miami School of Medicine, followed by internal medicine residency at University of Illinois Chicago, gastroenterology fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic and transplant fellowship at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. She is a practicing transplant hepatologist and is the Medical Director of the Liver Tumor Program and the Adult Living Donor Liver Transplant Program. She is also currently the Associate Program Director of the Gastroenterology Fellowship and will be transitioning her role to be the Program Director of the Transplant Hepatology Fellowship. Dr. Pillai was recruited to the University of Chicago from Emory University Hospital in 2016 to establish and direct the multidisciplinary liver tumor program which encompasses multiple specialists with expertise in benign and malignant tumors of the liver. This weekly multidisciplinary clinic provides collaboration between hepatology, transplant surgery, medical and interventional oncology and diagnostic radiology with the goal of identifying patients with both primary and metastatic tumors of the liver and to bring them innovative treatment options via a “one-stop-shop.” The program also includes a weekly multidisciplinary liver tumor board, a robust research infrastructure with the ability to enroll in multiple phase II and III trials and ultimately offers an individualized treatment plan for each patient. She and her colleagues are expanding this program further and created a transplant oncology program, offering liver transplantation for historically “untransplantable” malignancy states including colorectal cancer with liver metastasis and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. The impetus for this is the rapid rise in these malignancies in younger patients without traditional risk factors and limited treatment options.
Dr. Pillai’s passion for promoting liver cancer awareness and education prompted her to develop and be a co-founder of a new single topic national conference called HCC-TAG (or HCC-Therapeutic AGents) which took place in Park City, Utah in February of this year. The conference, which will occur annually, brought together clinicians and researchers for a focused interactive update to highlight the rapidly changing treatment landscape of HCC and the importance of a multidisciplinary team in providing these patients optimal care. Dr. Pillai is also involved in several national societies focused on liver disease and liver transplantation and has several leadership positions within these societies.
She is also personally committed to promoting the career advancement and development of trainees, especially promoting women in science and medicine. She organized a networking meeting for Women in Transplantation in Chicago in 2018 and is working on creating a regional chapter. She is a co- director of the annual University of Chicago Women in Digestive Diseases CME conference, and is a steering committee member of the Women in Medicine Summit symposium, an annual career development symposium held in Chicago. She was awarded the Gastroenterology Fellowship Teaching and Mentorship Award last year which she is especially proud of. On a personal level, she is the proud mom of a 3 year old and a 6 year old and enjoys running, reading novels and traveling internationally with her husband and children in her free time.