By Ronald J. Sokol, MD, FAASLD, AASLD President
One of the most valuable benefits of AASLD membership is having access to the most robust portfolio of hepatology educational and scientific offerings, many of which are continuously available on LiverLearning® for those asynchronous learners among you. Putting our educational events, courses, programs and materials together requires a great deal of member and staff time, which we greatly appreciate. We urge you to stay abreast of upcoming AASLD offerings throughout the calendar year. Here are some of the exciting programs scheduled for 2018, and I strongly encourage you to check your calendar in advance to see which of the following programs you are able to attend:
- This year’s Emerging Trends Conference is titled “Cholangiopathies: The Dawn of Curative Treatments?” and is scheduled for March 16-17 in Arlington, Virginia. The course co-directors are Mario Strazzabosco, MD, PhD, FAASLD, and Christopher Bowlus, MD, FAASLD, and an outstanding line-up of speakers and topics has been assembled. In addition to reviewing the most recent developments in cholangiopathies, this, like all Emerging Trends Conferences, will provide direction and structure for future research in this important area.
- The Clinical Hepatology Update is our annual premier event for the practicing hepatologist, hepatology associate, nurse practitioner and physician assistant, and trainee. This update is intended to provide the latest information about management of liver disorders and places into context new clinical guidelines and emerging therapeutics. Feedback from attendees of our first three Updates has been extremely positive. Please consider attending this year’s Clinical Hepatology Update on May 4-5 in Austin, Texas. I want to thank this year’s course directors Hari S. Conjeevaram, MD, MS; Coleman I. Smith, MD, FAASLD; Elizabeth K. Goacher, PA-C, MHS; and April G. Morris, FNP, for organizing a truly exciting program.
- On Friday, June 15, AASLD and EASL will co-host the Hepatocellular Carcinoma Symposium during the Global Hepatitis Summit 2018, the 16th International Symposium on Viral Hepatitis and Liver Disease, to be held in Toronto, Canada, on June 14-17, 2018. This will take place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. This HCC Symposium will bring together international experts in several different areas of research on hepatocellular carcinoma, and how it relates to Hepatitis B and C, to discuss the state of the art in their areas to highlight where we are and where we need to go in the future. Attending this Symposium is a must for those interested in surveillance, detection, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of HCC.
- On June 29-30 in Washington, DC, we will present the AASLD/EASL NAFLD Endpoints Conference. As you know, fatty liver disease presents a major management challenge faced by hepatologists. We are fortunate to partner with EASL and have as our course directors a distinguished group of researchers and clinicians: Arun J. Sanyal, MD, FAASLD; Mary E. Rinella, MD, FAASLD; Quentin M. Anstee, MBBS, PhD, FRCP; and Frank Tacke, MD, PhD. At this conference, leaders from the academic, clinical, regulatory, patient and pharmaceutical communities will focus on the most pressing study design, clinical and regulatory issues that need to be resolved so that the next generation of therapies can be developed and made available to our patients.
- And of course, there is Digestive Disease Week®. Please plan to attend this important event and consider joining almost 700 of your AASLD colleagues in Washington, DC, on June 2-5. I will enumerate in my next President’s Column the highlights and special sessions of our DDW programming, but until then please save the dates.
One of the mechanisms AASLD uses to advance the field of hepatology and ensure that we will provide for the needs of our members is through strategic planning. We are currently developing our next 5-year AASLD Strategic Plan through a process led by two Governing Board members – Jorge Bezerra, MD, FAASLD, and Ray Chung, MD, FAASLD. Those of you familiar with strategic planning understand that achieving the right balance and mix of participants and decision makers who accurately represent the various constituencies of AASLD is important. Ultimately, our new strategic plan will represent all members with the goal to provide the types of educational and scientific programming that make becoming an AASLD member essential for anyone interested in hepatology. I want to thank all those AASLD members who have agreed to contribute their time and effort to this important process.
Finally, I wanted to mention to you that the leadership of the four GI/Hepatology societies (AASLD, AGA, ACG and ASGE), called the “Group of Eight”, conduct a monthly conference call in which issues of common interest are discussed. The Group has recently decided to reduce the redundant email burden for those who are members of more than one Association. Starting soon, email announcements of issues of major importance to all of the Associations will be sent out as a single email from a new email domain “@GIsocieties.org.” We hope this will “unclog” your email inbox to some extent and also demonstrate the ongoing cooperation among the GI/hepatology professional associations that represent you. Any feedback that you may have about this new initiative, or about other AASLD activities, is encouraged.