Kate Ellery, DO

Kate Ellery, DO

Pediatric Gastroenterologist   
Medical Director, Center for Pancreatic Diseases

Kate Ellery, DO, was destined to become a doctor, thanks to the early influence of her family pediatrician. “Because she was such a great doctor, she inspired me to consider medicine as a career. I was lucky to have such an important role model in my life,” says Dr. Ellery. “We stay in touch even now. She’s taking care of our family’s next generation as the pediatrician for my sister’s babies.”

After earning an undergraduate degree in health and exercise science and a master of biomedical sciences at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Dr. Ellery went on to pursue medical studies at Midwestern University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Glendale, Ariz.

There, she planned to follow her mentor’s path and become a pediatrician. “But it wasn’t until I completed my gastroenterology/hepatology (GI) rotation that it all came together for me,” she says. “I became fascinated by the disease processes that are specific to children with GI conditions because they’re very different from those in adults.”

Dr. Ellery went on to do a residency in pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, where she also was awarded a fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology. Her GI interests ultimately led her to focus on pancreatic disorders in children — particularly recurring pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis.

After completing her fellowship, Dr. Ellery came to Pittsburgh in 2017 to advance her interests in pancreatic research and patient care at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Center for Rare Disease Therapy. Today, she is the medical director of its Pancreatic Disorders Center and also serves on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine as an assistant professor of pediatrics.

“Recurring and chronic pancreatitis are rare, painful, and life-disrupting conditions that can be very difficult to accurately diagnose and treat in children. That’s why we’re so committed to bringing such a multidisciplinary approach to our care,” notes Dr. Ellery. “Our team includes GI doctors, nutritionists and dietitians, imaging specialists, pain management specialists, psychologists, and surgeons, as well as other health providers.”

She believes the hallmark of the center, which treats children who range from toddlers to teens, is its focus on the care of individual patients and their families. “Our emphasis is on helping to improve the quality of our patients’ lives through our services,” she says.

UPMC Children’s is one of the few pediatric hospitals in the nation to offer patients total pancreatectomy with autologous islet-cell transplantation (TPAIT), a novel procedure designed to offer pain relief while greatly reducing a patient’s risk of developing diabetes. “This surgery isn’t for everyone, but it’s an effective option for the right patients,” explains Dr. Ellery, who is co-director of the TPAIT program.

Dr. Ellery currently is the local lead investigator on an international research project focused on chronic pancreatitis imaging and is a participant on a study of surgical management for chronic pancreatitis. She also has an interest in the effect of second-hand smoke on cystic fibrosis carriers and its link to an increased risk of recurring pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis in adults. Her research has been published in the Journal of Pediatrics, Pancreas, Journal of the Pancreas, and Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society.

“Ultimately, through our research and clinical care at UPMC Children’s, our goal is to better understand these disorders, discover new ways to deliver earlier treatment, and more effectively monitor these diseases,” says Dr. Ellery. “Most of all, our hope is to provide great care for these children and their families.”