SAN DIEGO — Over the next four days, the gastroenterology community will convene in the San Diego Convention Center for Digestive Disease Week 2019, the specialty’s largest scientific conference.
Healio Gastroenterology and Liver Disease will be onsite starting May 18, providing updates on breaking research and scientific seminars until the meeting concludes May 21. Following the meeting, we will partner with the American College of Gastroenterology to provide expert perspective on a variety of topics in a series of weekly newswires.
Co-sponsored by the American Gastroenterological Association, American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and The Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract, DDW brings together clinicians, researchers and academics from all the specialties for four days of ground-breaking research, thought-provoking discussions and valuable networking opportunities.
One of the main topic’s clinicians will likely be interested in, according to Grace Elta, MD, chair of the DDW Council, is all things inflammatory bowel disease related.
“Partly because there are so many new drugs that have been released that we are still learning more about, and many more in the pipeline and we still have a lot of trouble treating those diseases,” Elta told Healio Gastroenterology and Liver Disease when commenting on the popularity of the IBD track. “Almost all gastroenterologists manage inflammatory bowel disease and because of the disease complexity, and treatment nuances, those are huge areas of interest, in fact we always assign the inflammatory bowel disease sessions our biggest rooms.”
Elta noted that there also will be a tremendous amount of interest surrounding the microbiome and that there are plenty of abstracts and sessions that will take a deeper dive into the microbiome.
“Right now, unfortunately, we think it’s really important but so far it hasn’t cracked a lot of clinical nuts for us,” Elta said in an interview. “The only approved use of FMT has been [Clostridioides] difficile infection, but we’re hoping there’s much more.”
Elta said that research has identified that people who are obese have a different flora makeup in their gut than individuals who are not obese. She indicated that if researchers can figure out why that is the case, that maybe it will help develop better approaches to treating obesity.
“That’s going to be a really hot area, everyone is looking at gut microbiota and where it's going,” she said. “But the breakthroughs are never a huge single breakthrough, but rather several small steps. There will be lots of papers on this, some of them opening doors, some of them shutting doors, but eventually I think we will be able to harness that information to treat some of the common diseases we deal with.”
Expanding on the topic of treating obesity, Elta highlighted that there will be plenty of research involving the endoscopic treatment of obesity.
“This is starting to take off and people are really hopeful that [endoscopic treatments] will play a role,” she said.
New this year
For the first time in at least 10 years, according to Elta, the organizers will offer attendees childcare services.
Elta said that while some people might not view that as a ‘big deal,’ it shows a commitment to parents who want to attend and make their lives easier if they have no other options and want to attend sessions at DDW while having good quality childcare readily available.
“Years ago, we used to have childcare because we recognized there are more and more women and dual couples that bring children to meetings like DDW and need someone to watch them when they’re gone,” she said. “We used to have it back in the early 2000s, but not many people signed up for it, so it was dropped. Recently, it was brought up again and we realized, ‘This is not very friendly to the women who want to attend and who may want to use childcare.’ That led us to reinstitute childcare this year.”
One of the many things DDW decided to expand on for this year’s meeting involves physicians in training.
“We’ve found that younger GIs don’t tend to join associations and they don’t tend to come to meetings as much,” she said. “We’re trying to encourage them and make them feel at home, and we’ve had [a lounge] for several years now.”
But, as Elta noted, there will be programming designed specifically for the trainees.
“We’re going to bring in a couple really well-known individuals and have sessions in the lounge where it’s an open question and answer session, so young GIs and trainees can interact, rather than just a lounge,” she said.
Healio Gastroenterology and Liver Disease staff will report live on breaking news presented at the meeting and gain expert perspectives on important presentations. Visit and follow @HealioGastro on Twitter for the latest news emerging from #DDW19.