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About Our Team


Swallowing Center GI Team

John Jacobs, MD, FACG

Dr. John Jacobs is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the Joy McCann Culverhouse Center for Swallowing Disorders at the University of South Florida, where he has been since 2014. He graduated medical school from the University of Miami, completed his Internal Medicine residency at the University of Texas Southwestern, and his Gastroenterology fellowship at Indiana University. Named among the Best Doctors in America for gastroenterology, he focuses on esophagology, particularly gastroesophageal reflux disease and complex esophageal disorders. Dr. Jacobs has authored numerous papers and textbook chapters, with research interests in achalasia, esophagogastric junction outflow obstruction, and eosinophilic esophagitis.
Headshot of Bailey Blankenship, MSN, APRN, FNP-C in whitecoat with USF Health Department of Internal Medicine Division of Gastroenterology

Bailey Blankenship, MSN, APRN, FNP-CS

Bailey Blankenship is an advanced practice registered nurse, board certified by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). She specializes in gastroenterology with a particular interest in gastrointestinal motility. She evaluates and treats complex esophageal disorders at the University of South Florida Joy McCann Culverhouse Center for Swallowing Disorders in Tampa, Florida. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Thomas More University and her Master of Science in Nursing from Northern Kentucky University.

Samuel Slone, MD

Dr. Slone is a board certified gastroenterologist who specializes in esophageal diseases and swallowing disorders with particular interest in eosinophilic esophagitis and achalasia. He completed undergraduate training at the University of Florida and all of his medical training (medical school, residency, fellowship) at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, where he served as both the chief resident and chief fellow.

Swallowing Center Speech Pathology Team

Jaimie Anderson

Jaimie Payne Anderson, MS, CCC-SLP, BC-ANCDS

Jaimie Anderson is a medical speech-language pathologist (SLP), board certified by the Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences (BC-ANCDS). She currently evaluates and treats complex multiphase swallowing, voice, upper airway and motor speech disorders in a multidisciplinary team at the University of South Florida Joy McCann Culverhouse Center for Swallowing Disorders in Tampa, Florida. She earned a Master of Science at Florida State University. Clinical experience includes UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, Cleveland Clinic Florida and Memorial Regional Hospital. She serves on committees for ANCDS, Dysphagia Research Society and ASHA Special Interest Group 2 Neurogenic Communication Disorders.

Joy Gaziano, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-S

Joy Gaziano is a medical speech pathologist and board-certified specialist in swallowing and swallowing disorders (BCS-S) from ASHA. She has served the USF Center for Swallowing Disorders for over 30 years focusing on management of complex upper-aerodigestive disorders. She has an active clinical practice, teaches graduate SLP students at USF, and mentors practicing clinicians seeking BCS-S. Research interests include assessing efficacy of swallowing interventions and esophageal dysphagia. Joy has authored several publications; most recently, as the only SLP author in the The Esophagus, 6th Ed., the most comprehensive reference on evaluation and management of esophageal disorders.


Swallowing Center GI Surgery Team

Christopher DuCoin, MD, MPH, FSAGES, FASMBS, FACS

Dr. DuCoin, a board-certified general surgeon with advanced training in esophageal surgery, performs minimally invasive procedures including laparoscopic, robotic, and incisionless endoscopic surgery. His training spans the U.S., Argentina, and Germany. At Tulane Medical School, he developed a Regional Esophageal Center and held the Honorary Henderson Chair of Surgery. Currently, he is the Division Chief of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Interim Division Director of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition, Vice Chair of Surgery and Fellowship Director of Advanced GI & Bariatric Surgery at USF Health. He is also the Director of Tampa General Hospital’s Digestive Diseases Institute. Active in national societies, he holds high-ranking positions, has numerous publications, and has been awarded Top Doctor in Tampa and the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award.
Dr. Adham Saad

Dr. Adham Saad

Adham R. Saad, MD, FACS, is a board certified general surgeon with advanced training in Minimally Invasive GI surgery. He graduated with honors at Austin College in Texas. His medical school training was at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He then completed his General Surgery residency training and research fellowship in Thoracic surgery at University of Texas Health in San Antonio. After residency, he practiced as a General Surgeon in Guam for almost five years. Following his time in Guam, he completed a Fellowship in Advanced Minimally Invasive GI and Bariatric Surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He joined our team as Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of South Florida and faculty at the Joy McCann Culverhouse Center for Swallowing Disorders in October 2017. His clinical interests include benign and malignant diseases of the Upper GI tract and Abdominal Wall Hernias. He performs Minimally Invasive (Robotic, Laparoscopic, and Endoscopic) surgeries for treatment of hiatal (and paraesophageal) hernia, achalasia, and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). He also serves as Director of the University of South Florida Hernia Center. Dr. Saad prides himself on training future surgeons and serves as the Associate Program Director for both the General Surgery Residency Program and the Advanced GI and Bariatric Surgery Fellowship. He has been awarded the Medical School Teaching award two out of his three years at the University of South Florida. He is well published in peer-reviewed journals and textbooks. He is a member of Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract (SSAT) , Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES), and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS).

Joseph Sujka, MD, FACS

Dr. Sujka is a board-certified general surgeon at USF Health, specializing in gastroparesis, foregut, and intestinal malrotation. As part of the region’s only academic medical center, he utilizes advanced technology, including robotic-assisted surgery, to achieve optimal patient outcomes. Dr. Sujka is also an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. Born in Buffalo but raised in Florida, he earned his medical degree from St. George’s University and completed his residency at Orlando Health, followed by a fellowship in Bariatrics and Foregut at USF Health. He has over 27 peer-reviewed publications, contributed to 8 book chapters and is active in severalprofessional societies.

Retired Faculty

Joel Richter, MD

Joel Richter, MD

Joel E. Richter, MD, joined our USF Health faculty in September 2011. He served USF Health as Professor of Medicine, Hugh F. Culverhouse Chair for Esophagology, Director, Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition, which incudes the Joy McCann Culverhouse Center for Swallowing Disorders. 

Dr. Richter received his MD from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas. He completed his internship at the Naval Regional Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He went on to complete his residency in medicine and fellowship in medicine (gastroenterology) at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Among past academic appointments, Dr. Richter was chairman, Department of Gastroenterology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Ohio, for 10 years and Chairman of Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA for 7 years.

Dr. Richter is past president of the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) and served as director, ACG, Institute for Clinical Research and Education from 1995 to 2004. He is the recipient of several awards for his work in digestive diseases, including the Berk/Fise Lifetime Clinical Achievement Award from ACG, Joseph B. Kirsner Award in Gastroenterology (2000), the Janssen Award in Gastroenterology for Clinical Research in Digestive Diseases (2001), and The Samuel Weiss Award for Outstanding Service to the ACG (2001). In 2019, he was inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Former Students by Texas A&M University's College of Science. From 2002 to 2003, he served as president of the World Organization for Specialized Studies on Diseases of the Esophagus. He was co-editor in chief for the American Journal of Gastroenterology from 2003-2009. He was named to the Best Doctors in America for gastroenterology multiple times.

Dr. Richter is the author or coauthor of more than 325 original papers, 140 editorials/reviews, 15 books, and 116 book chapters. He and Don Castell are the editors of the new 5th Edition of The Esophagus. His research interests include gastroesophageal reflux disease, achalasia, Barrett’s esophagus, esophageal chest pain and eosinophilic esophagitis.

Vic Velanovich, MD

Dr. Vic Velanovich completed his undergraduate education at the University of Chicago, graduating with honors in the biological sciences. He completed medical school at Wayne State University, graduating with a “Distinction in Biomedical Research.” Having had a military scholarship for medical school, he completed his general surgery residency in the Army, receiving the Joseph H. Baugh Resident’s Award from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He was staff surgeon at Fort Knox, Kentucky and completed his military obligation in 1996.  He became staff surgeon at Henry Ford Hospital, where he was Division Head of General Surgery and Professor of Surgery (Clinician Educator) at Wayne State University.

In 2011, he moved to Tampa to become Director of General Surgery, Professor of Surgery, the Vivian Clark Reeves/Joy McCann Culverhouse Endowed Chair for Pancreatic Cancer and Digestive Disorders, and faculty at the Joy McCann Culverhouse Center for Swallowing Disorders at the University of South Florida.  His clinical practice is general surgery, with an emphasis on the foregut and pancreas. His research interests focuses on diseases of the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, and minimally invasive surgery, with emphasis on quality of life and outcomes. He has participated in both single center and multi-institutional clinical trials, including those related to pancreatic surgery.  He has published over 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals and 16 book chapters. He presently serves as the Program Chair for the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract. He has served as peer-reviewer for numerous journals, and presently serves on the editorial boards of the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery, World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pathology, and the Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery. 




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