Championing Hope: Dr. Sydney Martinez's Journey with Intestinal Malrotation

Championing Hope: Dr. Sydney Martinez's Journey with Intestinal Malrotation

Published: Thursday, March 28, 2024

In the world of public health, there are stories that not only inspire but also drive change and hope. Dr. Sydney Martinez's remarkable journey into researching intestinal malrotation is one such tale that touches the heart and exemplifies the power of dedication and personal connection in healthcare.

Intestinal malrotation, a congenital anomaly affecting a small but significant number of individuals, became more than just a medical term for Dr. Martinez, assistant professor of epidemiology—it became a mission. Her path towards understanding and advocating for those with this condition began when her own daughter was diagnosed and underwent surgical treatment in 2018. Witnessing firsthand the challenges and gaps in research surrounding intestinal malrotation ignited a passion within Dr. Martinez to make a difference.

“I had never heard of intestinal malrotation until our daughter was diagnosed at two weeks of age”, said Martinez. “We were told that a surgical procedure would fix everything, but she continued to struggle with severe gastrointestinal symptoms long after surgery. After joining online patient communities, I found many other malrotation patients and caregivers struggling to find resources and navigate the health system. As an epidemiologist who studies patterns, I noticed that the patterns in the patient community were not reflected in the scientific or medical literature.”

Teaming up with her colleague Dr. Katie Corcoran from West Virginia University whose son also has malrotation, Dr. Martinez embarked on a journey of discovery and action. Together, they founded IMPOWER, the first national patient registry for intestinal malrotation in 2021. This groundbreaking initiative not only brought together a community of patients, caregivers, and clinicians but also laid the foundation for significant research advancements. The fruits of their labor became evident with a publication in the prestigious Orphanet Journal of Rare Disease in 2023, showcasing the impact of their collaborative efforts.

Their dedication didn't stop there. Drs. Martinez and Corcoran are organizing the inaugural Intestinal Malrotation Research Alliance Annual Meeting March 26-27, 2024, aimed at building capacity for research related to intestinal malrotation—a testament to their commitment to driving change at a broader scale.

“Our two-day virtual meeting will include morning sessions open to the public with training and topics relevant to the patient and clinician communities interested in learning more about intestinal malrotation. In the afternoons, our Intestinal Malrotation Patient and Clinician Team (IMPACT) of advisors will participate in strategic planning to develop a patient-centered research agenda for malrotation. This research has been informed by a larger group of Caregivers and Patients (CAPs) who have participated in a series of listening sessions to inform our research plans", said Dr. Martinez. 

You can register for the free virtual annual meeting happening March 26-27, 2024 at

What sets Dr. Martinez's work apart is not just the scientific rigor and success but also the personal connection and empathy she brings to her research. Her journey from a concerned parent to a leading advocate and researcher in intestinal malrotation epitomizes the spirit of public health—a field driven by compassion, knowledge, and a relentless pursuit of better health outcomes for all.

Dr. Martinez's story serves as a beacon of inspiration, reminding us all that behind every research endeavor, there are real lives, real stories, and real hope for a brighter, healthier future.

Join us in celebrating Dr. Sydney Martinez's incredible journey and the impactful work she continues to lead in the realm of intestinal malrotation research. Together, we can champion hope and transform healthcare for generations to come.