Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) 2019 is now history. This was the 50th anniversary of DDW and again, it lived up to its reputation as the world’s foremost meeting dedicated to digestive diseases. GI & Hepatology News will publish multiple articles highlighting the best of DDW in the coming months.
The AGA Presidential Plenary session is an annual DDW highlight. This year’s session did not disappoint and was attended by a large crowd. David Lieberman, MD, AGAF (outgoing AGA president) and Hashem B. El-Serag MD, MPH, AGAF (incoming AGA president) moderated the session. Outstanding presentations about management of obesity, new findings in IBD, the use of virtual reality in the treatment of functional abdominal pain, and findings from a long-term colorectal cancer screening trial were some of the key presentations.
Recent behind-the-scenes work by the AGA is paying off for its members and the larger GI community. The AGA was again awarded an NIH-funded grant to advance its education and training of under-represented minorities. This is the second NIH grant given to the AGA, who now has become a leader in diversity and inclusive education. The AGA has strengthened its close bond with the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, adding to its portfolio of scientific and clinical offerings focused on IBD. The AGA Center for Gut Microbiome Research and Education has emerged as one of the best sources of education and research about the microbiome’s impact on digestive health.
On the business front, there are tectonic changes occurring. In 2018, three large GI practices were sold to private equity companies and each has completed multiple arbitrage plays (acquisition of smaller practices), growing to over 200 physicians. This year we will see 6-10 additional private equity acquisitions and will likely see one or more GI practices of 500-1000 providers. This consolidation will have profound implications for the practice of gastroenterology and will provide some interesting opportunities to conduct population-based research for physicians who can capture that potential through academic-community partnerships.
John I. Allen, MD, MBA, AGAF
Editor in Chief