Celiac Disease Keynote Discussion 1:15 PM, Deans Hall

Nicholas Inverso, MD

Dr. Nicholas Inverso practices at the Penn State Medical Group Endoscopy Center in State College. Inverso presents two new therapeutic endoscopy treatments to Penn State Health patients in the Centre Region. Inverso has been with Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for two years, and has practiced in the northeast and north central regions of Pennsylvania for the past 20 years.


Melinda Arcara, Author

Traveling When Gluten-Free 2:30 PM, Deans Hall

Melinda Arcara a.k.a. Gluten-Free Bebe is a writer who helps people become gluten-free. This is her story:

My name is Melinda Arcara; I grew-up the youngest of 10 children, so naturally my Dad nicknamed me the “Bebe” (pronounced Bee Bee) for being the baby of our big family.

My gluten-free journey probably started when I was very young. I grew up in a very close and loving Slovak/Ukrainian family. Traditional Eastern European foods like pierogis, nut rolls, breads, and baked goods were always homemade by my Slovak mother. Food was culturally a huge part of my everyday life.

It was when I was about 14-years-old that I was told that I had an auto-immune problem, but that was all I knew. The doctor explained to me that I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and that I would eventually have Colitis or Crohn’s disease and perhaps colon cancer. I spent the next six years hiding symptoms from my mom or refusing to see doctors for fear of the embarrassment of the procedure preparations and the mention of a colonoscopy.

Every major life event from the time I turned 20 until I had my daughter at 36 resulted in a weakened immune system. Subsequently, I would have a colonoscopy to determine if the IBS had gotten worse. When I had my son at 34, I started to get migraines in the form of flashing auras. After my daughter, they got worse, and I eventually contacted a neurologist to rule out any brain defects. All tests came back normal.

Shortly before my 40th birthday everything fell apart. Depression set in. My general practitioner suggested I go on anti-depressants to help me even out my mood. Finally, my sister, Sue, stepped in. She found a holistic practitioner who was able to diagnose me with non-Celiac, gluten intolerance and a severe Vitamin B and iron deficiency.

I cried a river of tears of joy that I finally had a diagnosis for the way I felt. It took me 7 days to detox off gluten, but I immediately noticed that I could breathe out of the right side of my nose. I’ll bet I hadn’t done that my entire life.

The first 6 months were up and down. I would go on and off gluten. I would feel sick and then feel good each time I got off of it. In the seventh month, I made the full commitment to stay gluten-free for the rest of my life. I’ve come to the realization that it’s not about elimination. It’s all about substitution.

So, here is where my journey continues and your journey begins. Through my website, , book (3 Steps to Gluten-Free Living), blog, and teaching programs I’m looking forward to helping the newly diagnosed find their way in the gluten-free world. With my help, anyone can stay 100% compliant and on the path to healing.

DANA ZIFICSAK, Magical Moments Vacations

Traveling When Gluten-Free 2:30 PM, Deans Hall

Dana Zificsak

As a travel agent, Dana specializes in destinations that provide a worry-free experience for the traveler with Celiac disease or food allergies. These destinations include: Disney and Universal Resort Vacations, all-inclusive resorts, and cruises. Both Dana and her son have Celiac disease and she travels at least 10 times a year, making her an expert in how to eat safely and stay healthy while away from home. As an agent with Magical Moments Vacations, Dana loves working with clients who have Celiac disease and/or food allergies to help them have a stress-free, relaxing, and fun vacation.

To read reviews of her and her service, visit:

You can also visit her website at: