Less Than 2 Weeks Away

Published in October 2013 Issue             

What You Can Expect...

In 2010, the ASMBS and The Obesity Society (TOS) agreed to co-locate their individual annual meetings to bring together the world’s foremost experts on the prevention and treatment of obesity. The two organizations will hold the first-annual ObesityWeekSM this November in Atlanta, GA. Behind much of the planning and coordinating for ObesityWeek was ASMBS’ Program Committee, voted “2013 Committee of the Year,” and chaired by Dr. Ninh T. Nguyen.

Dr. Nguyen gave a behind-the-scenes look at how the committee put together the world’s largest scientific meeting on obesity, and what new symposia and events members can look forward to.

How did the Program Committee organize itself around ObesityWeek? What was done differently this year, as compared to prior years?

The Program Committee was divided into five subcommittees to organize the various aspects of the education program for ObesityWeek. These subcommittees were selected to ensure all aspects of the program were equally represented. These subcommittees include scientific quality, poster/video, emerging technologies, scientific papers and
professional education.

How big of a commitment was it for the Program Committee to design the programming for ObesityWeek? How does this year compare to the past? Did you have a bigger committee?

Planning for the program for ObesityWeek requires a significant time commitment by all of our Program Committee members, particularly the chairs of the five subcommittees. I would like to take this time to express my appreciation to my co-chair, Dr. Dan Herron, the subcommittee chairs (Dr. Aurora Pryor, Dr. Michel Gagner, Dr. Shanu Kothari, Dr. Bipan Chand), and all of the members of the committee who have worked so hard to build this exceptional program for Atlanta.

The program would not have been completed in a timely fashion if it wasn't for everyone's commitment. The program for ObesityWeek is much different than previous years. We increased our plenary/scientific session by a day to 3.5 days and reduced our postgraduate courses from three to two days. The additional day of the scientific session will mean that for a single registration fee, members will be able to participate in more symposia, debates, invited video sessions and much more.

How would you characterize the quality of the content at this year's meeting? How is it different?

The number and quality of the abstracts have improved greatly from previous year, and this year we hit a new high record for the number of abstract submission. In 2012, we received 374 abstract submissions and this year we have received 580, which represents an astounding 55 percent increase.

This is a testament to our members' interest in the concept of ObesityWeek -- they wanted to participate in the first and largest educational event on the topic of obesity worldwide. The quality of these paper and video abstract submissions has been amazing. The high number of paper abstract submissions is also likely related to the fact that our surgical journal, SOARD, is now ranked among the top 10 surgical journals based on its impact factor rating. This ranking is an important factor that is often taken into account when our members decide where to submit their research.

How did the Program Committee collaborate with TOS for ObesityWeek?

After developing a preliminary ASMBS program, the chairs and co-chairs of the program committee from both ASMBS and TOS met in person to decide how the two programs could integrate with regard to content, timing of special invited lecturers, timing and content for symposia of our level 2 partners, and even the social events. Subsequently, there has been frequent communication between the ASMBS and TOS program chairs to ensure continued coordination.

What were the biggest challenges in bringing together the programming for ObesityWeek?

There are many challenges in bringing such a large program together, but the biggest challenges include making sure that all obesity relevant topics are covered, getting the right faculty, as well as the selection of our keynote and Mason lecturers. In such a large program, we invite upwards of 500 faculty worldwide. The ASMBS staff has done a tremendous job in inviting and confirming these faculty and speakers. I want to thank all of the ASMBS staff, but specifically Teresa White who has been instrumental in keeping the entire program in check.

What opportunities do ASMBS members and TOS members have to interact or learn from
each other?

There are plenty of opportunities for the members of the two organizations to interact and network including at our welcome reception on Tuesday evening, at the various ASMBS/TOS combined symposia and certainly at our after dark social event.

What do you think will be the biggest changes ASMBS members will see in terms of programming, as compared to previous years?

For the first time, members will be able to attend a wide variety of educational offerings from both organizations that are occurring simultaneously. Therefore, it is important for our members to review the entire program prior to the meeting and organize a schedule of which talks or symposia they would like
to attend.

What do you think the biggest highlights of ObesityWeek will be for ASMBS members?

There are many, but some highlights include the lectures from our two keynote speakers, Dr. Bruce M. Spiegelman, the Stanley J. Korsmeyer Professor of Cell Biology and Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Dr. Tom Farley, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

In addition, Dr. Bruce Wolfe will give the Mason lecture and discuss the new guidelines on the management of overweight and obesity in adults and Dr. Jaime Ponce will deliver his presidential address in what has been a busy year. Outside the plenary sessions and symposia, our after dark social event where we can relax and celebrate the near-completion of our first ObesityWeek, will certainly be a highlight.

This year, attendees will have the opportunity to attend symposia offered by ObesityWeek partners. How do you think these symposia will affect the ASMBS member experience?

We have seven level 2 partners, including the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, American College of Sports Medicine, International Association for the Study of Obesity, American Heart association, International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders, Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I think it will enhance our member experience to attend these symposia.

Each partner symposium will have a different topic that is related to their expertise. For example, the AACE symposium is on the Endocrine Aspects of Obesity and the American Heart Association symposium is on Obesity and Cardiovascular Risk and Disease Across the Lifespan. Our members have noted that they would like to see more educational activities relating to the wide spectrum in the treatments of obesity and these symposiums offered by our partners will certainly fill that gap.

What do you think the most popular "attractions" will be for ASMBS members?

This is a tough question as there are so many good sessions and courses, but I will share with you some of my own favorites. If you are able to get to ObestyWeek early, I suggest you sign up for the metabolic surgery update PG course and/or the new MBSAQIP PG course. There are four different hands-on laboratories to choose from including a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy lab, laparoscopic or endoscopic suturing labs and the flexible endoscopy lab.

I encourage all of our members to support the ASMBS Foundation by attending the L.E.A.D. luncheon on Tuesday. On Wednesday, don’t miss our keynote lecture by Dr. Bruce Spiegelman, followed by bariatric surgery debates, which will be quite lively and exciting. In the afternoon, we will have our top 10 paper presentations. On Thursday, we have our second keynote speaker, Dr. Tom Farley. On Friday, we will have three LIVE surgery telecasts. I would definitely not miss this event. Lastly, we will end the week with an adolescent symposium and the MBSAQIP quality improvement program on Saturday morning. It will be a long week and a lot of work for some of us but it will be well worth it.

Are you nervous about the first ObesityWeek?

I am definitely nervous. This is a huge event and so many people have worked so hard to make it come to fruition and I just want the event to be well attended and well received by our members. On the other hand, I am very excited that the time for the unveiling of the first ObesityWeek is almost here, as so much work has been contributed by so many people to make this meeting a reality.

What do you hope ASMBS members will get out of the first ObestiyWeek?

I hope they will enjoy the diverse educational offerings, networking events, and scientific synergies created through collaboration by our two leading obesity organizations.

How do you envision this evolving in the future?

I envision that ObesityWeek is here to stay. In fact, we are already in the planning stages for the 2014 ObesityWeek in Boston and the 2015 ObesityWeek in Los Angeles.