Dr. Charlene Prather joined the Department of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology as a professor in September of 2022. Her clinical goals are to provide advanced, patient-centered clinical care using a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach for patients with disorders of gastrointestinal motility and gut-brain function (such as irritable bowel syndrome). She aims for her patients to feel that they have been listened to and understood as partners in their healthcare. Inspired from observations of the needs of the patients in her clinical practice, she plans to focus her research on better understanding the causes and treatments of lower gastrointestinal motility and pelvic floor disorders (such as constipation/dyssynergia and bowel incontinence). She will accomplish this using skills from her background in gastrointestinal physiologic research, outcomes research and experience in the development and performance of randomized controlled trials. Her clinical research will seek to identify how best to use anorectal manometry and other techniques in the diagnosis of motility disorders and the role of pelvic floor therapies in the treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction.
As her patient base expands, she plans to incorporate randomized controlled trials for the treatment of lower gastrointestinal motility disorders such as constipation and irritable bowel syndrome, so as to offer the broadest range of therapies for her patients while advancing an improved understanding of the scientific basis of these disorders. As a clinician educator, Dr. Prather’s career has focused on educating and mentoring the next generation of physicians, especially gastroenterologists through their fellowship training. Her primary mentoring focus will continue to be women and those who have been traditionally under-represented in academic medicine and administrative leadership roles. In addition to teaching about disorders of gastrointestinal motility and gut-brain function, her foundational teaching interest is skill development for effective interpersonal and communication skills allowing trainees to more effectively connect with and care for their patients. Outside of medicine, Dr. Prather avidly enjoys the outdoors, gardening, hiking, camping, kayaking, and fishing with her family and friends. She enjoys participating in many community volunteer opportunities, including supervising at a medical student run free clinic serving the St. Louis city population.