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      New RGA Physician Brings Passion for Public Health to GI Work

      Dr. Nabil Baddour

      Dr. Nabil Baddour entered the field of digestive health in a most interesting way, bringing a background in public health and time spent overseas working on international healthcare issues to his new role at Rockford Gastroenterology Associates (RGA).

      He was born in Texas and grew up in south Georgia, eventually landing in New Orleans for college. He'd go on to spend about 20 years in New Orleans, aside from a brief relocation to Colorado after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 and travel that included time in Cuba and studying abroad in Australia.

      Life after the hurricane and efforts to rebuild the city of New Orleans inspired Dr. Baddour to pursue public health. He completed both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Public Health at Tulane University in New Orleans.

      "Understanding of New Orleans itself really shifted," he recalled. "People would visit and see the destruction caused by the storm. But many areas looked bad before the storm. I was interested in how to rebuild the city and do it correctly."

      After completing his master's degree, Dr. Baddour moved to Switzerland to work with the International Centre for Migration, Health And Development. He focused on health needs of refugee populations (including studying Iraqi refugees in Syria) but eventually grew frustrated by government red tape that slowed progress on projects.

      He eventually moved back to New Orleans to work with health department and federal health officials on lead abatement. As the city had started to rebuild and old structures were being renovated or torn down, lead poisoning rates had started to skyrocket. Dr. Baddour did education and outreach, forming a concerned citizens organization and leading efforts to do lead remediation at seven playgrounds across the city.

      As he dove deeper into public health, medicine was still on the back of his mind. In 2011, he enrolled at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and completed his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) in 2015.

      He returned to Tulane University to complete a residency in Internal Medicine and fellowship in Gastroenterology and Hepatology. When he started his residency training, he was most interested in policy and public health. But an elective rotation in Gastroenterology pointed him in an unexpected – but welcomed – direction.

      "That month was such a pleasant month," he recalled. "I had a great relationship with the other fellows, and I liked what they were doing. There was a mix of being in the clinic and talking with patients and also working in the endoscopy lab.

      "The truth is it felt right. This feels like I found my place."

      He came to RGA in August 2021 and was already familiar with Rockford. His brother lives here and his parents also had relocated to the Forest City, so the idea of being closer to family was very appealing.

      And just as he felt at home with GI during his medical training, he felt at home at RGA.

      "It was very evident when I visited that there was something different about RGA," he said. "The first thing that struck me was the bullpen (a shared office space for RGA physicians). Having that communal space is so important to interact and bounce ideas off each other. Culture is irreplaceable to me, and it was very evident from the moment you walked in that the culture here is like a community."

      And his interest in public health continues to overlap with digestive health, whether that be studying the advancements in hepatitis C treatment or removing a precancerous polyp during a colonoscopy in an effort to prevent colon cancer.

      He's especially interested in nutrition and food policy – from food choices to food deserts to awareness of how food affects digestion – and looks forward to exploring issues of microbiomes and gut health that have been at the forefront of gastrointestinal (GI) research.

      Dr. Baddour lives in Rockford with his wife, Liljana, and their two daughters, ages 5 and 2. They are passionate about dog rescue and look forward to connecting with a local rescue organization to continue that work in the Rockford area.

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