Highly Trained Gastroenterology Specialists – Early Years

Gastroenterology Associates of Cleveland was founded in 1964 by James B. Katz, MD and Donald J. Kurlander, MD as a partnership. From the inception of the practice, these physicians focused on bringing comprehensive state-of-the-art gastroenterology methodologies and procedures to their patients and building a premier gastroenterology practice in Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr. Katz graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine. His internship and medical residency was at the Mount Sinai Hospital of Cleveland. He then took a two year fellowship in Gastroenterology at the University of Pennsylvania in the Dr. Henry Bockus program. Dr. Bockus was one of the pioneers to specialize in the field of Gastroenterology and edited an early classical, multi-volume texbook in the field.
Dr. Kurlander was graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine, cum laude in 1957. He took his internship and medical residency at the University of Chicago and a three year fellowship in Gastroenterology, also at the University of Chicago. Following that, he joined the faculty where he continued his research as well as clinical duties. His mentor was Dr. Joseph B. Kirsner, a world renowned gastroenterologist, who has edited numerous textbooks and had written over 800 clinical publications. Dr. Kirsner worked actively in the field until the age of 95. In 2009, Dr. Kirsner celebrated his 100th birthday and the event was attended by physicians and friends from around the world, including Dr. and Mrs. Kurlander.
Dr. Kurlander returned to Cleveland in October of 1963. Initially, he was Assistant Chief of Gastroenterology at the Cleveland Crile Veterans Administration Hospital (now the Wade Park VA Hospital) where he established the first Endoscopy Teaching Program. From there, he joined up with Dr. Katz.
Initially, Drs. Katz and Kurlander opened their practice in the Park Chester Medical Building and later moved to the Young Medical Building on Shaker Boulevard. From there, it was to the Mount Sinai Integrated Medical Campus on Cedar Road.
In 1969, they were joined by Dr. Mario Kamionkowski thus establishing the very first private Gastroenterology group practice in the Greater Cleveland Area. Dr. Kamionkowski had recently returned from a practice in Rehovot, Israel where he had been chief physician at the Kaplan Hospital for two years. Dr. Kamionkowski, originally from Argentina received his training in gastroenterology at Cleveland Metropolitan Hospital (now MetroHealth). For many years Dr. Kamionkowski would drive from an Eastside hospital to a Westside hospital with an endoscope in the back seat of his car ready to perform hospital rounds on sick patients.
The doctors at that time practiced primarily at Mount Sinai Hospital, formerly located in University Circle since 1916. Drs. Katz and Kurlander established one of the first full-time Gastrointestinal Laboratories in the area. The laboratory was devoted to the evaluation and diagnosis of gastrointestinal disease using the most current and sophisticated testing available at the time. Mr. K. Kumarin, a trained biochemist was the chief technician for more than 25 years. The laboratory was consistently certified by the American Society of Pathology. Dr. Katz was the Chief of the Department of Gastroenterology at Mount Sinai. During his tenure, both he and Dr. Kurlander established a GI Fellowship Training Program at Mount Sinai.
In the late 1970’s, pursuing new and innovative opportunities, Dr. Kurlander opened the very first endoscopy unit at Huron Road Hospital. Following the untimely death of Dr. James Katz in 1983, Dr. Kurlander assumed the duties of the Chief of Gastroenterology at Mount Sinai. Following his retirement from clinical practice in 2003, Dr. Kurlander has continued to teach medical students at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine with the title of Assistant Clinical Professor, Emeritus.

Practice Growth and Expertise

A well-earned reputation and GI expertise increased demand for the practice’s services, prompting it to add more physicians. After finishing his fellowship training at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Jack Lissauer joined the practice in 1976, followed in 1980 by Dr. Michael Frankel after finishing his training at University Hospital and the Veterans Administration training program.

Firsts in Northern Ohio

  • 1970’s established first full-time GI Laboratory dedicated to the diagnosis of gastrointestinal disease
  • 1970’s opened first endoscopy unit at Huron Road Hospital
  • 1970’s established Gastroenterology Fellowship Program at Mount Sinai Hospital
  • Dr. Mario Kamionkowski was Chief of Gastroenterology at Hillcrest Hospital from 1983 to 1994.
  • 1980 Dr. Frankel brings expertise in Total Parenteral Nutrition to the Veterans Administration Hospital and Hillcrest
  • 1990 Gastroenterology Associates of Cleveland opened the first physician owned endoscopy unit in Northeast Ohio – “Ambulatory Surgery Center of Northern Ohio”
  • 1993 with the addition of James Andrassy, PA-C a physician assistant with years of clinical research experience, the Clinical Research Group (CRG) was developed to actively seek out clinical research protocols to offer our patients access to cutting-edge medicine not yet offered to the general public
  • 2003 Drs. Kamionkowski and Frankel were certified as clinical research investigators through the Western Institutional Review Board (WIRB)
  • 2005 established first in-house private Gastrointestinal Anatomic Pathology Laboratory for the benefit of our patients.

On the Move

During the last 40 years, the practice has brought healing and hope to patients at almost every Cleveland eastern-area hospital, including Cleveland Veterans Administration Hospital at Wade Park, Forest City Hospital, Hillcrest Hospital, Marymount Hospital, Grace Hospital, Mt. Sinai Hospital, Shaker Medical Center, Suburban Hospital, Southwest General Hospital, Women’s Hospital and Highland View Hospital (one of the finest chronic disease hospitals in the country).