Gastro-Intestinal Functional Treatment (GIFT) Center

Diabetes nurse practitioner Julia Tracey and endocrinologist Sheela Magge with a patient

The Johns Hopkins Gastrointestinal Functional Treatment (GIFT) Center is a multidisciplinary program for children with disorders of the gut-brain interaction (DGBI; previously called functional gastrointestinal disorders). Our integrative approach to functional gastrointestinal treatment is designed to care for more than the physical well-being of your child. Our mission is to care for the body, mind, and spirit.

DGBIs are highly prevalent in the community with some patients experiencing extreme discomfort and illness for prolonged periods of time. Approximately 15% of school age children experience functional abdominal pain.

What are disorders of gut-brain interaction (DGBI)?

DGBI is presumed to be caused by the input from overly sensitive gastrointestinal tract muscles and nerves that are processing signals in the brain (brain-gut axis). This may follow a gastrointestinal infection or occur during emotional disturbances in life, but also may happen with no triggers. In most instances it is difficult to understand the cause of abdominal pain. The pain may be associated with other symptoms like nausea, constipation or diarrhea. Symptoms may be frequent which may adversely affect the child's quality of life.

Our goal is to bring an integrative treatment approach by engaging the child and caregivers in activities that can help manage symptoms and move away from finding “the cause.” We understand the importance of incorporating specialists into one center. This enables immediate frontline care and improves the quality of life for patients and their families.

Conditions We Treat

  • Pain related functional gastrointestinal disorders

  • Functional dyspepsia
  • Chronic nausea

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Functional abdominal pain syndrome

Our Specialized Services

Click below to learn about each of our services at the GIFT clinic.

Treatment Options

  • Full evaluation of symptoms and problems
  • Integrative interventions may include strategies related to the mind-body connection such as mindfulness, hypnosis, biofeedback, aromatherapy, or acupressure, as well as strategies for overall wellness including exercise, sleep, and physical environment.
  • Cognitive behavioral treatment and psychological support

  • Nutrition advice
  • Neuromodulator therapy – IB -STIM: an innovative therapy for children with chronic abdominal pain. It is an FDA approved, non-surgical device used to treat abdominal pain from irritable bowel syndrome. It is a single use device attached behind the ear that looks like a hearing aid. This provides pulsating impulse for 5 days (120 hours) a week for four weeks. 

“I really appreciated that they provided practical suggestions that worked right away. It was holistic and integrative medicine approaches.” 

Jessica Rosenbaum



Shaija Shelby Kutty, M.B.B.S.

  • Director, Gastrointestinal Functional Treatment Center (GIFT)
  • Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Expertise: Pediatric Gastroenterology


  • Melanie Ladonna Brown, M.D., M.S.E.

    • Medical Director, Pediatric Palliative Care
    • Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

    Expertise: Hospice and Palliative Care, Integrative Medicine, Pain Management, Pediatrics

  • Erika Alana Chiappini, Ph.D.

    • Director of Training, Pediatric Medical Psychology Fellowship
    • Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences


Sofia Wicker Velez, RD, LDN - Dietitian

Johns Hopkins Children’s Center
Expertise, Disease and Conditions: nutrition support, pediatric GI disorders, gut rehab, failure to thrive (FTT), introduction/transition to solids with selective eaters and weaning of enteral nutrition (EN).

Sofia Wicker Velez

Anna Harsel, BSN, RN

Pediatric Gastroenterology Nurse

Anna Harsel, BSN, RN

Rebecca-Ann McGuire

Sr. Medical Office Coordinator 

Rebecca-Ann McGuire

Schedule an Appointment

Your child and family will be meeting each GIFT Center provider on the same day of appointment.

To make an appointment please contact 443-997-5437 or 410-955-8769 opt 5, opt 1


David M. Rubenstein Building
200 N. Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21287