Kenneth J Vega

Contact Information:
Kenneth J Vega


Vega, Kenneth J (HSC)

Department of:

College Of Medicine/Medicine - Gastroenterology -Professor of Medicine

Center of:

Peggy & Charles Stephenson Oklahoma Cancer Center -Member

Other Organization:

Department of Internal Medicine-Digestive Diseases and Nutrition -Director of Research


Cornell University Medical College   MD   1988
Department of Medicine, Boston City Hospital   Intern   1989
Department of Medicine, Boston City Hospital   Residency   1991
Temple University Hospital   Gastroenterology Fellowship   1995

Professional Interest/Expertise/Specializations:
Dr. Vega's research focuses on understanding factors leading to the development of Barrett's esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma as well as the differential increase of these entities among ethnic groups of the United States. Initially, his work focused on understanding esophageal function and acid exposure across healthy members of major US ethnic groups to determine if variation existed. Hispanic Americans and non-Hispanic whites were found to have equivalent esophageal motor function in the healthy state. Interestingly, African Americans were found to have higher resting lower esophageal sphincter pressure, lower esophageal sphincter length and distal esophageal contraction duration than non-Hispanic whites. This was not demonstrated to impact esophageal acid exposure in the healthy state by a following study in Dr. Vega's clinical research lab. However, in a group of patients presenting to endoscopy at his previous institution, he was able to demonstrate that gastroesophageal reflux disease complications occurred at equivalent rates between African Americans and non-Hispanic whites except for the presence of Barrett's esophagus. As part of a sequential investigation, African Americans were also found not to develop dysplastic Barrett's esophagus as frequently as non-Hispanic whites. Dr. Vega's is currently characterizing the histologic expression pattern of stem cell biomarkers in Barrett's esophagus during the transition to esophageal adenocarcinoma and correlating this with serum stem cell marker expression during disease progression and after radiofrequency ablation. Increased understanding of the progression from BE to EAC would allow for enhanced analysis of the disparity between non-Hispanic whites and African Americans regarding BE/EAC. The eventual goal of Dr. Vega's research is to understand the mechanisms resulting in formation of Barrett's esophagus so novel therapies can be developed to prevent such a premalignant event from occurring.


Department of Internal Medicine-Section of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition
Department of Internal Medicine-Faculty Listing
Peggy and Charles Stephenson Cancer Center

Research Projects:

Clinical Trial: An open-label, long-term safety and tolerability of plecanatide in patients with chronic idiopathic constipation (Synergy Pharmaceuticals) September 2015 [Vega Co-PI]
Clinical Trial: A combined phase 2/3, double blind, randomized, placebo controlled, induction and maintenance study evaluating the safety and efficacay of GS 5745 in subjects with moderately to serve ulcerative colitis (Gilead Sciences) September 2015 [Vega Co-PI]
Clinical Trial: A Multi-Center, Randomized, Open Label, Controlled Study to Investigate the Treatment Response of Intravenous Injectafer® (Ferric Carboxymaltose) vs. Oral Iron to Baseline Hepcidin Levels in Patients with Iron Deficiency Anemia(IDA) secondary to Inflammatory Bowel Disease(IBD) or Gastric Bypass (Luitpolk Pharmaceuticals) July 2014 [Vega Co-PI]
Clinical Trial: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group, Multicenter, Multiregional, One Year Study to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of Twice daily Oral Rifaximin Delayed Release Tablets for Induction of Clinical Remission with Endoscopic Response (Salix Pharmaceuticals) November 2014 [Vega Co-PI]

Selected Publications:

DCLK1 is detectable in plasma of patients with Barrett's esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma
2015    Whorton J, Sureban SM, May R, Qu D, Lightfoot SA, Madhoun M, Johnson M, Tierney WM, Maple JT, Vega KJ, Houchen CW
Dig Dis Sci. 2015 Feb;60(2):509-13. Epub 2014 Oct 5. PMID: 25283374
Change in bowel habit and heme positive stool
2015    Abegunde AT, Sawh RN, Vega KJ
J Gastrointest Dig Syst 2015; 5: i104
Gastrointestinal Kaposi's sarcoma: case report and review of the literature
2015    Lee AJ, Brenner L, Mourad B, Monteiro C, Vega KJ, Munoz JC
World J Gastrointest Pharmacol Ther 2015; 6: 89-95
African American ethnicity is not associated with development of Barrett's oesophagus after erosive oesophagitis.
2015    Alkaddour A, McGaw C, Hritani R, Palacio C, Nakshabendi R, Munoz JC, Vega KJ
Dig Liver Dis. 2015 Oct;47(10):853-6. doi: 10.1016/j.dld.2015.06.007. Epub 2015 Jul 2 PMID: 26188839
Higher prevalence of proximal colon polyps and villous histology in African-Americans undergoing colonoscopy at a single equal access center.
2015    Jackson CS, Vega KJ
J Gastrointest Oncol. 2015 Dec;6(6):638-43. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2078-6891.2015.096 PMID: 26697195
Intestinal stem cells and the colorectal cancer microenvironment
2014    Ong BA, Vega KJ, Houchen CW
World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Feb 28;20(8):1898-909. PMID: 24587669
Case Report: An Unusual Case of Cirrhosis
2014    Ahmad Alkaddour, Kenneth J. Vega, and Adil Shujaat
Case Rep Gastointest Med. 2014; 2014:670176 PMCID: PMC3978404
Neuroendocrine tumors of the gastrointestinal tract: Case reports and literature review
2014    Salyers WJ, Vega KJ, Munoz JC, Trotman BW, Tanev SS
World J Gastrointest Oncol. 2014 Aug 15;6(8):301-10. PMID: 25132927
Translational research on Barrett's esophagus
2014    Baruah A, Buttar N, Chandra R, Chen X, Clemons NJ, Compare D, El-Rifai W, Gu J, Houchen CW, Koh SY, Li W, Nardone G, Phillips WA, Sharma A, Singh I, Upton MP, Vega KJ, Wu X
Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2014 Sep;1325:170-86. PMID: 25266024
Patient prompting of their physician resulted in increased colon cancer screening referrals
2014    Le V, Syed S, Vega KJ, Sharma T, Madhoun MF, Srinivasan N, Houchen CW
World J Gastrointest Oncol. 2014 Jul 15;6(7):257-62. PMID: 25024817
Nonspecific motility disorders, irritable esophagus, and chest pain
2013    Krarup AL, Liao D, Gregersen H, Drewes AM, Hejazi RA, McCallum RW, Vega KJ, Frazzoni M, Frazzoni L, Clarke JO, Achem SR
Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2013 Oct;1300:96-109. PMID: 24117637 Review
African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, and non-Hispanic whites without GERD or reflux symptoms have equivalent 24-h pH esophageal acid exposure
2013    Vega KJ, Langford T, Palacio C, Watts J, Jamal MM.
Dig Dis Sci. 2013 Dec;58(12):3554-7. Epub 2013 Sep 14. PMID: 24036992
Females without reflux symptoms or gastroesophageal reflux disease have less distal esophageal acid exposure than males without reflux symptoms or gastroesophageal reflux disease.
2013    Vega KJ, Langford-Legg T, Palacio C, Watts J, Jamal MM.
Dis Esophagus.;26(3):246-9. PMID: 22676484
Ultrasound Marking by Gastroenterologists Prior to Percutaneous Liver Biopsy Removes the Need for a Separate Radiological Evaluation.
2013    Diteodoro LA, Pudhota SG, Vega KJ, Jama MM, Munoz JC, Wludyka P, Bullock D, Lambiase LR.
Hepatogastroenterology. 2013 Jun;60(124):821-4. PMID: 23282742
Decreased acid suppression therapy overuse after education and medication reconciliation.
2013    Gupta R, Marshall J, Munoz JC, Kottoor R, Jamal MM, Vega KJ.
Int J Clin Pract.;67(1):60-5. PMID: 23241049