My ACG 2019: The City, the Science, the Sisterhood


The City

San Antonio was “alive” during the 2019 American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) Annual Meeting, with the Day of the Dead activities bringing the city to life! On Friday, October 25th, the San Antonio River Walk was filled with those in costumes trick-or-treating at the local businesses, while the waterway showcased a float parade adorned with ghoulish characters, spoofing television shows, celebrities and more. From tableside guacamole to jalapeno-infused margaritas, the local fare was fantastic. While storms made the entry into San Antonio memorable for some (too memorable at times!), the sun welcomed attendees at the start of the meeting.

The Science

The #ACG2019 Post-Graduate Course, co-directed by Dr. Renee Williams (@DrR_Williams) and Dr. Timothy Gardner, started off the conference and highlighted the many emerging advancements in gastroenterology and hepatology. The Presidential Address, delivered by Dr. Sunanda Kane (@SunandaKaneMD), with introduction by incoming President, Dr. Mark Pochapin (@MarkPochapin), provided updates regarding initiatives within ACG, policy and legislation, and the transition of the ABIM to a longitudinal program. The American Journal of Gastroenterology Lecture, delivered by Dr. Ciaran Kelly, highlighted the “Myths and Mysteries” of celiac disease, shedding light on its global prevalence and highlighting limitations of the gluten-free diet. The J. Edward Berk Distinguished Lecture was delivered by Dr. Linda Rabeneck on “Post-Colonoscopy Colorectal Cancer,” emphasizing that such cancers may develop if they were not initially seen, not effectively removed, or had rapid growth. The Emily Couric Lecture, presented by Dr. Suresh Chari, highlighted the “Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancer: Problems, Promise and Prospects.” While Dr. Chari noted that pancreatic cancer was among the top cancer killers, it is the only one without an early detection strategy, and showcased how detection strategies on those with new-onset diabetes offer promise, with a goal to double the survival in those with pancreatic cancer by 2020. 

The Presidential Plenary Sessions were filled with oral presentations on cutting edge research on oral budesonide suspension in eosinophilic esophagitis, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, results from the VISIBLE Program using vedolizumab in ulcerative colitis, use of telehealth prior to endoscopic procedures, predictors of recurrence in C. difficile infection, statin use in reducing the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, nuances with traveler’s diarrhea management, over-the-scope clips for severe non-variceal upper GI bleeding, endoscope processing, as well as implications of advanced adenomas.

The Sisterhood

While the city is a draw and the science is invigorating, the best part of ACG is connecting with colleagues. What was my observation at #ACG2019? This was the year for women! Now that women make up more than 50% of medical school matriculants, this has and will alter the demographics of those attending ACG. We wrapped up a year with Dr. Sunanda Kane as President, with more women taking on ACG Governor roles and other leadership positions than ever before. The Women in GI reception was packed, with attendees ranging from medical students to advanced practice providers to emeritus staff. In fact, we had our youngest attendee there, with Dr. Naba Saeed (@NabaSaeedQ) bringing the newest member of her family! The support for new moms at the meeting was evident. At the Women in GI Committee, the energy was high, and the opportunities vast. And I would be remiss if I did not mention the incredible women from NYU, who are a force in numbers and accomplishment! The meet-and greets and networking by women who had been virtual acquaintances on social media alone was unprecedented. Seeing prior mentees giving plenary talks and breakfast sessions, setting up centers of excellence and clinical trial, and mentoring the next generation of gastroenterologists made for proud moments! A shout out to Dr. Shazia Ali (@ShaziaAliMD), my ACG mentee, assigned years ago, who is now the one overseeing the ACG Mentoring Program! While it will take some time for the change in medical school matriculation to more notably impact the demographics of gastroenterology, the change is already apparent. None of this would be possible if it were not for the incredible #HeForShe allies at this meeting. Thank you! What is next? I am hoping to see everyone at ACG’s Bridging the Leadership Gap in San Diego, in January, where we can continue to sponsor women in GI! I welcome the day when we have a line out the door of the women’s bathroom at our GI conferences!    

Dr. Oxentenko tweets at @AmyOxentenkoMD.

Image by FoxyImage / Shutterstock

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