Ravy K. Vajravelu, MD, MSCE

  • Assistant Professor of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, & Nutrition
  • Chief Information Officer, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, & Nutrition
  • Core Faculty, Center for Health Equity Research & Promotion, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System

Dr. Vajravelu is a practicing gastroenterologist who also performs research to develop personalized medicine strategies that aim to improve the diagnosis and treatment of individuals with gastrointestinal conditions. He is working toward this goal by designing new biostatistical techniques to accurately and efficiently analyze big health data and by identifying clinical strategies that improve patient outcomes for common gastrointestinal diseases. In particular, he studies strategies for gastrointestinal cancer screening, causes of common gastrointestinal conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, gastrointestinal bleeding, and intestinal infections, and gastrointestinal side effects of common medications. His research has been published in high-impact gastroenterology and informatics journals, such as Gastroenterology, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. Based on this experience, he serves as Associate Editor for Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety and Evidence Based GI.

Outside of work, Dr. Vajravelu enjoys doing home improvement projects and gardening with his wife and two children.

Education & Training

  • BS (Biomedical Engineering), Johns Hopkins University, 2008
  • MD, Case Western Reserve University, 2012
  • Internal Medicine Internship & Residency, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 2015
  • Gastroenterology Fellowship, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 2018
  • MS (Clinical Epidemiology), University of Pennsylvania, 2018

Representative Publications

Vajravelu RK, Mamtani R, Scott FI, Waxman A, Lewis JD. Incidence, risk factors, and clinical effects of recurrent diverticular hemorrhage: a large cohort study. Gastroenterology. 2018 Nov;155(5):1416-27.

This cohort study of nearly 15,000 individuals with a history of diverticular bleeding demonstrated that antiplatelet agents are associated with repeat diverticular bleeding episodes, but blood thinners are not.

Vajravelu RK, Scott FI, Mamtani R, Li H, Moore JH, Lewis JD. Medication class enrichment analysis: a novel algorithm to analyze multiple pharmacologic exposures simultaneously using electronic health record data. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2018 Jul;25(7): 780-9. 

This manuscript describes the development and implementation of two new biostatistical techniques: pharmacopeia-wide association studies and medication class enrichment. These techniques are used to quickly identify medications that could cause unanticipated side effects.

Vajravelu RK*, Shapiro JM*, Ni J, Thanawala SU, Lewis JD, El-Serag HB. Risk for post-colonoscopy irritable bowel syndrome in patients with and without antibiotic exposure: a retrospective cohort study. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2021 Sept; Epub ahead of print. 

This cohort study of more than 400,000 individuals who underwent screening colonoscopy demonstrated that antibiotic use around the time of colonoscopy is not associated with developing irritable bowel syndrome.

Vajravelu RK, Mehta SJ, Karasic TB, Mamtani R, Scott FI, Lewis JD. Understanding characteristics of who undergoes testing is crucial for the development of diagnostic strategies to identify individuals at risk for early-age onset colorectal cancer. Gastroenterology. 2021 Mar;160(4): 993-8. 

This cohort study of nearly 24,000,000 individuals between age 18 – 49 describes patterns of gastrointestinal testing that could lead to incidental diagnoses of early-age-onset colorectal cancer. Additionally, this study describes the healthcare utilization of individuals diagnosed with early-age-onset colorectal cancer.

Click here for a more complete bibliography of Dr. Vajravelu’s works.

Research Interests

  • Pharmacoepidemiology
  • Cancer screening
  • Machine learning
  • Health care utilization