Department of Medicine

Department of Medicine

  Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

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photo David Levinthal, MD, PhD

Director, Neurogastroenterology & Motility Center


Phone: 412-864-7075

Office: Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition - 200 Lothrop St.
UPMC Presbyterian Hospital M2, C Wing -
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Phone: 412-864-7075
Fax: 412-864-7080
Administrative Assistant:
Gwen Tolliver
Address: Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition-200 Lothrop St
UPMC Presbyterian Hospital M2, C Wing
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Phone: 412-864-7075
Fax: 412-864-7080
Education and Training
B.S., Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, 1998
Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh, 2004
M.D., University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 2006
Internal Medicine Internship, University of Michigan Hospitals, 2007
Internal Medicine Residency, University of Michigan Hospitals, 2008
Gastroenterology Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 2012
Research Interest
An Assistant Professor of Medicine, Dr. Levinthal's lab uses both neuroanatomical tracing and neurophysiological techniques to explore the neural basis for central nervous system influences over autonomic regulation in both health and disease. Dr. Levinthal's research focuses on the neural mechanisms by which the cerebral cortex influences GI tract function. Our initial studies have uncovered the surprising finding that a visceromotor map of sympathetic function is embedded within the classic somatotopic map of motor function. Further work is aimed at understanding the cortical regions that influence vagal function. The goal of this effort is to use the maps to guide brain stimulation in order to influence GI tract function. This line of work will lead to the development of brain-based therapies for those with forms of severe GI dysfunction refractory to standard treatments.
Clinical Interest
Descending neural commands from the cerebral cortex can have a profound influence on GI tract function. Uncovering the neural basis for these "top-down" influences on gut function is particularly relevant for understanding the pathophysiological mechanisms contributing to functional GI and motility disorders. Our group is interested in the cognitive and emotional determinants of GI symptom severity in these disorders, with an interest in developing new integrative medicine models of care. We also are interested in understanding the nature and extent of GI symptoms in those with central nervous system disorders. Finally, we hope to translate our basic work into novel, brain-based therapeutic strategies for those with forms of severe GI dysfunction refractory to standard treatments.
For my complete bibliography, Click Here.
Selected Publications:
Dum, R.P., Levinthal, D.J., Strick, P.L. The spinothalamic system targets motor and sensory areas in the cerebral cortex of monkeys. The Journal of Neuroscience. 2009; 29(45): 14223-35.
Levinthal, D.J., Strick, P.L. The motor cortex communicates with the kidney. The Journal of Neuroscience. 2012; 32(19): 6726-31.
Levinthal, D.J., Rahman, A., Nusrat, S., O'Leary M., Heyman, R., Bielefeldt, K. Adding to the burden: gastrointestinal symptoms and syndromes in multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis International. 2013; 2013: 319201.
Levinthal, D.J., Bielefeldt, K. Adult cyclical vomiting syndrome: a disorder of allostatic regulation. Experimental Brain Research. 2014; 232(8): 2541-7.
Levinthal, D.J., Bielefeldt, K. Systematic review and meta-analysis: Gastric electrical stimulation for gastroparesis. Autonomic Neuroscience. 2016; S1566-0702(16): 30033-9.
Sponsored Research/Activities
Title: Treating Anorectal Dysfunction Associated with Multiple Sclerosis
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Agency: Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers
Start Year: 2016
End Year: 2016
Title: Cerebral Cortical Influences on the Stomach
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Agency: National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, & Kidney Disease
Grant Number: K08 DK101756
Start Year: 2014
End Year: 2019
Notable Achievements
Member, Society for Neuroscience (SfN), 1999-present
Member, American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), 2010-present
Member, American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), 2012-present
Member, American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society (ANMS), 2014-present
Member, American Psychosomatic Society (APS), 2015-present
Invited Member, Adult Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS) Clinical Guidelines Committee; co-sponsored by the CVS Association and ANMS, 2015-present
Invited Member, American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute Research Awards Panel (RAP) Committee, 2015-present
20th Annual Ludwig Robert Muller Lectureship, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany, Feb 2014
Young Investigator Forum Award, Best Basic Science Research, American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society, July 2014
American Gastroenterological Association Future Leaders (one of 18 national awardees), 2015-present