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Maisam Abu-el-haija, MD

Dr. Abu-El-Haija is currently an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati, and a Pediatric Gastroenterologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.  She serves as the Medical Director of the Pancreas Care Center at Cincinnati Children’s, the Medical Director of the Ohio/ Kentucky Chapter- National Pancreas Foundation (NPF), one of the five NPF Fellows Sympsoisum Course Directors, Chair of the pancreas committee for the National American Pediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN), a member of APA, AGA, amongst other professional societies. She is currently the President-Elect of the Collaborative Alliance for Pancreatic Education and Research (CAPER), these highlight some of the national leadership positions that she’s served in the last few years.

Dr. Abu-El-Haija earned her medical degree from Jordan University of Science & Technology in Jordan in 2003, and finished residency and fellowship training from the Children’s Hospital of Iowa in 2009. Her training included bench laboratory and clinical research applying state-of-the-art genetic, molecular, and cellular work to study the pancreatic consequences of cystic fibrosis (CF) as well as research on immunological involvement in pancreatic diseases. When she joined Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, one of her main goals was to establish a unique first-of-its-kind multi-disciplinary Pancreas Care Center dedicated to treating and improving the quality of life of pediatric pancreas patients. It was successfully launched in 2012. Since then the center has served over 450 children with pancreatic disease from around the nation. In her current position as the Medical Director of the center, she developed a well-curated database of our patient population, developed diagnostic and clinical care algorithms that include biochemical and radiological methods. These algorithms helped facilitate the care for patients with pancreatic disorders.

As Dr. Abu-El-Haija moves in her career path, she builds on her past research experiences and continues with her current research focus on pediatric pancreatitis, to help design studies that will lead research dedicated to advancing the care of children with pancreatic disease. She is currently the Principle Investigator on multiple projects; a Pancreas Gene Panel that screens effectively for genetic mutations in pancreatic disorders, also the lead PI on the NIH funded acute pancreatitis registry that is housed in Cincinnati, amongst radiological studies to study pancreatic function, and the site investigator for the international pancreatitis study group, in search for a cure: INSPPIRE under the CPDPC. This work has the potential to advance understanding and management of pancreatic disorders in the pediatric population and lead to improved outcomes of pediatric pancreatitis. Dr. Abu-El-Haija aspires to be the voice of children and families that seek our help from around the world, to ask the questions they need in research, to find answers through scientifically sound methods, and then integrate the new knowledge inpatient care to allow effective delivery that leads to better outcomes.

On a personal level Dr. Abu-El-Haija enjoys and values family time. She is the mother to two amazing young boys who know so much already about the pancreas at their elementary school level! She enjoys cooking, travel, and exercise especially when there is beautiful weather that allows outdoor activities.