Profile: Mark R. Corkins, MD

Published On 09/22/2015

Gastroenterologist builds comprehensive program

Dr. Mark CorkinsMark R. Corkins, MD, saw potential in Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Gastroenterology program. Hospital leadership knew the importance of growing the program, and much of the infrastructure – including a newly built hospital – was already in place. So he committed to lead the program and take it to the next level – moving from Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health to Memphis, Tenn., in 2011.

Nearly five years later, Corkins – a veteran pediatric gastroenterologist with a special focus on nutrition – has expanded the program’s research, teaching and clinical efforts, making it a sought-after program for pediatric gastrointestinal and liver issues.

“The idea of building and growing and developing and making something better that’s exciting to me. I love potential with a little of challenge in it,” Corkins said.

Mark R. Corkins, MD

  • Division Chief of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Le Bonheur Children's Hospital and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center
  • Professor and Director, Pediatric Gastroenterology Fellowship, The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
  • Consultant, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Education and Training
  • Medical School: University of Missouri, Columbia School of Medicine
  • Pediatrics Residency: University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics
  • Pediatric Gastroenterology Fellowship: University of Nebraska Medical Center/Creighton University
Clinical and Research Focus
  • specialized nutrition support
  • malnutrition
  • probiotics

One of his first steps toward advancing the program was recruiting additional expertise, including three new physicians and a nurse practitioner trained in pediatric gastroenterology care. This summer, the program welcomed its first pediatric gastroenterology fellow. 

Under Corkins’ leadership, the team has also added a handful of specialized clinics to the program’s offerings, increasing access for children with gastrointestinal and liver disease and creating a more coordinated plan of care for patients. 

Cary Cavender, MD, who joined the team in 2013, co-leads a newly formed multidisciplinary Eosinophilic Esophagitis Clinic. Cavender works alongside a Le Bonheur pediatric allergist/immunologist to care for children with this condition, which causes allergic inflammation of the esophagus.

For children with short bowel issues, CIRCLe (Children’s Intestinal Rehab Clinic at Le Bonheur) Clinic offers patients access to a gastroenterologist, surgeon, dietitian and pharmacist – all in one setting.  The CIRCLe Clinic was named the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN)’s Clinical Nutrition Team of Distinction, an honor that recognizes excellence in interdisciplinary clinical nutrition practice.

Each of the program’s clinics focuses on using more advanced forms of testing,  including Bravo ph monitoring to measure acid reflux in the esophagus and the pill cam – a swallowable camera that captures images of the gastrointestinal tract.

A larger team and focused clinics have allowed the division to expand their research efforts as well. Le Bonheur is home to The Morgan Foundation, which supports the research of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a rare liver disease. Other current research projects include the national Sustain ™ database for patients on at-home nutrition support, the national Improve Care Now network for inflammatory bowel diseases and research focused on better understanding eosinophilic esophagitis.

“We’re not only caring for our patients, but we’re also improving that care and finding better ways to treat them,” said Corkins.

As a Certified Nutrition Support Clinician®, Corkins has a special interest in nutrition issues, which is woven into the care of every GI patient.

Next steps, says Corkins, include adding more physicians and nurse practitioners to the group. Corkins wants to grow the research infrastructure and with that, the opportunity to make big impacts for children living with gastrointestinal problems.

“When families come back to you and thank you for helping them – that’s the rewarding part,” said Corkins. “I tell them I’m just doing my job. I like being Dr. Mark.”