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      Illinois-born RGA Physician Brings Academic Training, Experience to RGA

      Dr. Bowyer

      Dr. Brad Bowyer has specialized in the gastrointestinal field for nearly four decades, with a dozen of those years spent at Rockford Gastroenterology Associates (RGA) caring for individuals with a broad range of digestive health conditions.

      Dr. Bowyer grew up in southern Illinois and remembers from a young age wanting to pursue a career in healthcare. He saw great examples of healthcare providers in his small town.

      "I remember riding home from church, and I must have been 5 or 6 years old, sitting in the back seat and talking about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a doctor or a dentist or a vet," he recalled.

      Dr. Bowyer followed his childhood dream and completed his pre-med studies at Eastern Illinois University, earning his Bachelor of Science in 1976, followed by his medical degree in 1979 from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. His initial plan was to be a family doctor, but he discovered a passion for internal medicine during medical school, finding interests in both Cardiology and Gastroenterology. He pursued residency training at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine in Minnesota and completed a fellowship in Gastroenterology at Mayo. He’d been accepted into Mayo’s prestigious cardiology program but chose GI for the long-term, honing his skills during training with advanced procedures such as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).

      After completing his training, Dr. Bowyer and a former colleague from Mayo would go on to be the first two GIs employed at a new Mayo clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, starting in 1986 through 1994.

      "It was an exciting time – all of us young and enthusiastic GIs bringing a model of integrated healthcare to Florida," he said. "It was fun being part of something we knew was so big."

      Dr. Bowyer met his future wife Sonya during that time as well. Years later, he moved to a private GI practice in LaGrange, Georgia. By 2009, he and his wife had a daughter, and they were exploring different options for work and home, including moving back closer to family in Illinois. That’s when RGA entered the picture. Dr. Bowyer was familiar with the practice, having trained with retired RGA physicians Dr. Mark Shiels and Dr. Chris Moore at Mayo. He also was attracted to RGA because of the balance between cutting-edge techniques and academic outreach.

      "RGA was known for its landmark publication with the New England Journal and leadership with the AGA and ASGE," he recalled. "It was a seamless transition – except I didn’t have a winter coat."

      At RGA, Dr. Bowyer continues to perform advanced procedures such as ERCP and specializes in caring for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. He noted how far IBD treatment has come in recent years, including advancements in medications with fewer side effects for patients that reduce the need for surgical interventions.

      Dr. Bowyer also is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford. Earlier this year, he was the lead author on a clinical study published in the medical journal Gastrointestinal Endoscopy for research performed at RGA regarding COVID-19.The study looked at outcomes of 1,000 people who were screened and tested for COVID before their endoscopic procedures at RGA, with the goal of comparing rates at a community-based ambulatory surgery center to those at academic centers. The infection rate was comparably low in this population, and results supported the need for both a screening questionnaire and COVID test before patients underwent procedures.

      Away from RGA, Dr. Bowyer loves spending time outdoors, whether that’s taking a walk with his dog in the woods, archery, hunting, or gardening. He lives in Rockford with Sonya and their teenage daughter, as well as two Labrador retrievers (they used to train labs for competition).