Juanita Merchant, M.D., Ph.D.

juanita merchant

Dr. Juanita Merchant

Juanita Merchant, M.D., Ph.D., is the H. Marvin Pollard professor of gastrointestinal sciences in internal medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Molecular and Integrative Physiology at the University of Michigan. She also has a faculty appointment in the cellular and molecular biology graduate program.  Dr. Merchant has made paradigm-shifting contributions to our understanding of the gastric response to chronic inflammation.

Dr. Merchant grew up in Los Angeles. Her mother was an elementary school teacher who instilled in her a respect for education. Always interested in math and science, she did not consider medical school until she was in college. “I didn’t have any role models,” she says. Straight A’s in high school opened doors to many top-flight universities. Merchant chose Stanford, where she received her B.S. degree in biology. She then set her sights on medical school and discovered how much she loved working in the laboratory. One of her early mentors offered some life-changing advice by recommending that she get an M.D. and a P.h.D. degree. She did just that by enrolling in Yale University where she received both her M.D. and Ph.D. degrees.  She completed her internal medicine residency and a research fellowship in gastroenterology at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and her clinical fellowship in gastroenterology at UCLA.  She was then recruited to the University of Michigan where she has developed her research in transcriptional control mechanisms in the gastrointestinal tract.

Dr. Merchant is a reviewer for multiple journals and has served on the editorial boards of Gastroenterology, American Journal of Physiology—GI, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Digestive Disease Sciences and Physiological Reviews.

She currently serves on several national advisory boards including the Robert Wood Johnson-sponsored Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program, where she was a fellow; the advisory boards for NIH-sponsored P30 Digestive Disease Centers for UCLA/CURE, Washington and Vanderbilt Universities. She was one of the inaugural members of the Council of Councils, which directly advises the current NIH director, Dr. Francis Collins, on future trends for NIH.

In addition, during the course of her education and throughout her faculty tenure, Dr. Merchant has received numerous prestigious awards and honors. She is a member of nine professional associations. She was a 2008 inductee into the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. As a part of her administrative responsibilities with the University of Michigan, she is a member of the Organogenesis, Cancer and Peptide Centers and is also an associate director of the Peptide Center. As an associate director of the University of Michigan Medical Scientist Training (MD-PhD) Program, she has developed a clinical preceptorship for MSTP students and a summer pre-MSTP experience for under-represented groups interested in pursuing both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical fields.

Dr. Merchant's primary research interests include transcriptional control mechanisms regulating cell growth and differentiation and microbial-host interactions in the upper GI tract. She has authored or co-authored over 90 peer-reviewed research publications and is the editor or co-editor of two books and several book chapters. Several press releases on her work related to the role of gastritis in the development of ulcers and gastric cancer have been published nationally.