As you may know, the Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) team is gearing up for a very exciting 2019 meeting; it’s our 50th anniversary! But what would a celebration of DDW’s legacy be without you, the attendees? So, leading up to the meeting, we will be featuring some of our longstanding attendees and their memorable experiences from DDW over the years.
Our first DDW reflection features Dr. Esther Torres, a DDW attendee for 44 years.
Q: Can you describe your first experience attending DDW?
A: I was in fellowship; the year was 1975. There was no funding for fellows to attend meetings, but I was assisting my chair of medicine in an ascites-related study, so he splurged for the trip (wise man). There was so much to see and learn. Hearing the experts live was incredible. So much so, that the next year I lobbied for, and was awarded, another trip to DDW.
Q: How have you seen DDW change/evolve over the years?
A: DDW has evolved to become attractive to a broader group of gastroenterologists. While preserving the top-quality research presence, a clinical component has become prominent, offering something for everyone. DDW has also targeted special interests such as fellows/trainees, women, minorities and groups from other countries (ex: The Best of DDW).
Q: What has attending DDW done for your career?
A: First and foremost, DDW is a source of inspiration and renovation. It has been instrumental in professional and personal growth and in offering a network in the field. Over the years, I have had the privilege of working in some committees and co-chairing a postgraduate course and have gotten to know the organization better.
Q: How did you first learn about DDW and what made you decide to attend?
A: I heard about DDW from my GI attendings, and I thought it was an important meeting for my professional growth.
Q: What would you tell someone who is on the fence about attending DDW?
A: Don’t even think about not attending. There is something (a lot) for everyone. Once you have experienced it, you will want to come back for more the next year.
Q: What has been your most inspirational DDW moment?
A: Co-chairing a postgraduate course with Maria T. Abreu, MD, AGAF.
Q: How do you envision DDW another 50 years from now?
A: Evolving with the times, educating in new ways and looking out for GI as a profession and gastroenterologists as great physicians.
Dr. Torres hails all the way from San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she is professor of medicine at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, former chair of medicine, former GI division chair and GI program director. Currently, she is the director of the UPR Center for IBD as well as the Gastroenterology Research Unit. Off campus, Dr. Torres is founder and president of the Fundacion Esther A. Torres pro Enfermedades Inflamatorias del Intestino, a small non-profit organization that raises awareness, offers education to the public and supports programs that improve quality of life for patients with IBD.
Make sure you keep checking the DDW Blog for more attendee reflections. If you have been attending DDW over the years and are interested in providing your own reflection, please email Kristenn Fortson for an opportunity to be featured.