The Great Debate Triumphs at Australian Gastroenterology Week

By Adriana Rehbein
Friday, 08 February, 2013

This year’s annual Australian Gastroenterology Week (AGW) meeting had over 1200 people in attendance, well above the expected level, says the Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA).
This year’s annual Australian Gastroenterology Week (AGW) meeting had over 1200 people in attendance, well above the expected level, says the Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA).
AGW is one of the significant scientific meetings in the Asia Pacific region and features the latest advances in clinical management, cutting-edge translational and basic science, and original research in endoscopy, gastroenterology and hepatology.
This year was a great turn out for the exhibitors and the event was exceptionally well received, going above and beyond expectations, with the great debate, at the end of the conference, so well received it is now to be made part of AGW’s regular program.
From the Chair, Scientific Program Committee
AGW 2012 was another highly successful meeting of GESA members, our colleagues from the Australasian Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (AuSPEN) and GENCA. The conference was held at the Adelaide Convention Centre from the 16th - 19th October attracting over 1200 registrants across several disciplines, interest groups and an impressive 368 abstract submissions.
Distinguished international and national faculty graced the podiums and educated attendees on diverse topics such as endoscopic and surgical aspects of bariatrics, and new endoscopic imaging techniques, management of the adolescent with inflammatory bowel disease, transition to adult care as well as nutrition support in patients with gastrointestinal cancer, dysmotility and in the critically ill.
The Bushell Lecturer was Professor Stefan Zeuzem who spoke of an exciting future of well tolerated and ‘needle-free’ therapies in hepatitis C. Other distinguished international invited faculty included Professors Jurgen Bauer, Jasmohan Bajaj, Gregory Ginsberg, Girish Gupte, Susan Parry, Ramnik Xavier and Noriya Uedo who enriched the educational and scientific aspects of the program. We welcomed the return of the Trans-Tasman Lecture series in 2012; this was delivered by Associate Professor Susan Parry from Auckland Hospital.
In 2012, SPC maintained its strong commitment to research in the core program, again featuring the prestigious ‘Young Investigators Award’ competition, a record 125 oral free papers and a special plenary showcasing research papers of distinction. The Digestive Health Foundation symposium made a comeback this year, presenting the challenges of underand over-nutrition in Australia. To close the meeting, our talented faculty of debaters, Jurgen Bauer, Paul Desmond, Mark Schoeman and Danny Stiel enlightened and entertained us at “The Great Debate”!
As Chair of SPC I would like to express my immense gratitude to all the members of the Scientific Program Committee in particular, Meeting Organiser/ALA representative Alex Thompson, Robert Fraser (Motility), Rajvinder Singh (AGEA), Jane Andrews (AIBDA), Rupert Hinds (Paediatrics), Susannah King (AuSPEN), Simone Strasser (DHF) and Dana Cotton (GENCA) who worked very hard in putting together a superb program. Last but not least, many thanks to the dynamic team in the GESA office: Elaine Siggins, Christine Pimm and Jenny Delaforce for their invaluable support throughout the year and for turning GESA’s major annual educational and scientific meeting into another excellent event for the Society in 2012.
Narci Teoh - Chair of SPC
GESA Travel Grant
Thanks to Gastroenterological Society of Australia’s Travel Grant the following people were able to attend. Here is the conference in review from their perspective:
With the support of the GESA travel grant, I was able to attend this year’s Australian Gastroenterology Week conference in Adelaide. The excellent state of the art lectures and presentations from both national and international speakers helped me to gain a deeper insight into new advances in the field of gastroenterology.
Given my own research into changes in the microbiota following small bowel resection, I found this year’s focus on the role of the microbiota in gut pathology especially interesting. I was also given the chance to present my own poster and discuss my work with an international audience, which resulted in helpful suggestions as to how I could further develop my work.
I found the opportunity to introduce myself, and my research, to potential international collaborators particularly useful. I would like to thank GESA for awarding me this travel grant and allowing me to advance in my career and my research.
Susan Lapthorne
It was a great opportunity for me to be able to participate in this conference. The variety of topics and subjects was amazing. Sometimes it was really hard to choose which lecture to attend, since there were interesting subjects performing at the same time.
Although my current field of study is nutrition, as a physician I enjoyed some of the lectures regarding specific diseases such as Coeliac and Ulcerative Colitis. Fortunately, It gave me some new information that I could share with my supervisor who is a paediatric gastroenterologist and his main field of research is IBD in children.
I participated in the last three days of conference as an AusPEN member. Considering being a student flying all the way from New Zealand, It was quite an expensive trip for me (international airline ticket, hotel accommodation, conference registration fee and etc.), therefore AGW travel grant is a great help to break down the cost.
It was my first trip to Adelaide. The venue of the conference was lovely and reception staffs were friendly and helpful. The catering and … was also great. I hope to be able to attend the next year conference, as well.
Vesal Moeeni
As a first year PhD student I found attending AGW a rewarding experience with some great presentations and lectures for both scientists and clinicians. My area of research is mainly focused on murine models of IBD. In this area of research it is often easy to lose track of the human face of the disease. I found the seminars dealing with the quality of life of IBD patients beneficial in both my wider understanding of the disease and how basic science research can translate into substantial improvements in patient care.
Wednesday was dominated by the YIA final. The competitors presented a wide range of topics and congratulations must go to Sarah Walker and Emma Halmos. Sarah Walker won the Young investigator of the year in the basic science category for her work on the role of adiponectin in hepatocellular carcinoma and Emma Halmos the clinical category for here work on the effect of dietary FODMAPs on gastrointestinal symptoms.
Poster sessions on Wednesday and Thursday covered Liver and Luminal basic science research, endoscopy, clinical IBD and hepatology as well as clinical nutrition. The diverse range of topics exhibiting the dynamic research being conducted across Australia. Posters from attendees, Anita Chua, Teddi Dwyer and Kevin Fagan found particularly interesting.
Anita has been working on Liver Iron homeostasis in colonic inflammation, Teddi has conducted clinical work on the management of diet and exercise in NFALD and Kevin Fagan is attempting to develop CDT as a biomarker of alcohol excess in patients with chronic liver disease. Two excellent State of the art lectures by Associate Professor Xavier Ramnik on Wednesday and Thursday on the role of genetics and the microbiome in our understanding of the IBD were thought provoking.
Overall I found my experiences at AGW allowed me to put the work conducted on the bench into the wider context of patient care. I left invigorated to come back next year, present more data and catch up on the developments been made in gastroenterology research across Australia.
Sean Mateer

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