RGA Physician Brings Passion for IBD to Patient Care in Rockford

      Dr. Michael Manley

      Dr. Michael Manley is celebrating his 20th anniversary at Rockford Gastroenterology Associates (RGA) this year, which includes two decades of delving into complex digestive health conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

      He was raised in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, and discovered an early interest in the medical field thanks to a next-door neighbor who was a family doctor. Initially, he wanted to do something similar, becoming a general practitioner who possibly did surgery, too.

      Dr. Manley attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned both his bachelor's degree and medical degree. While pursuing his residency in Internal Medicine at Loyola University Medical Center, he enjoyed his rotation with the gastrointestinal (GI) team so much so that he completed a fellowship in Gastroenterology at Loyola in 1995.

      "There is a lot of variety in GI," he said. "You're able to see patients who require ongoing care for chronic conditions, but you also treat the urgent cases in the hospital, new patients in the clinic, and have the mix of procedures. You see a little bit of everything."

      After completing his medical training, Dr. Manley began his GI career at Rockford Clinic. He joined the RGA team in 2001 and still cares for patients who followed him from his time at Rockford Clinic.

      "For somebody who came from a multispecialty clinic, I was attracted to RGA being an independent practice," he said. "RGA has always been good at recruiting high-quality physicians who work so well together.

      "Besides having a great group of physicians, everybody in this building is really good at what they do and on the same page in providing excellent patient care."

      At RGA, Dr. Manley cares for patients with a variety of digestive disorders and has a special interest in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), which includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

      "Ages 15 to 45 are the peak years for when IBD is most often diagnosed," Dr. Manley explained. "Individuals with IBD often tolerate mild-to-moderate symptoms that can still be disruptive to everyday life until they're properly diagnosed by a GI specialist."

      Symptoms of Crohn's or ulcerative colitis can include diarrhea with blood, abdominal pain and unexplained weight loss. Some can manage with mild symptoms and be seen once a year while others have more complex cases, requiring medication or surgery and close follow-up care.

      "Our understanding of what's causing IBD remains unclear. It's an autoimmune condition, but we really don't know the cause. The immune system is attacking the lining of the intestine. Something is triggering it but what that something is remains unknown.

      "Fortunately, there have been just incredible advancements in the treatment of IBD with the development of biologic therapies," he noted. "There were no biologic agents when I started. Now the number of people requiring surgeries has really plummeted and quality of life for people has really improved due to these biologic medications. It's an exciting time to care for patients with IBD because we have more effective treatments that can make them better."

      When he's not taking care of his patients at RGA, Dr. Manley is spending time with his wife, Karol, and their three sons, whose school activities keep the family busy.