Authors: Jennifer F. Tseng, MD and Mariam F. Eskander, MD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
See bios at the end of this post.


Why attend?
DDW is the largest annual gathering of surgeons, hepatologists, and gastroenterologists from around the world. The breadth of content covered — from liver to pancreas to colorectal — ensures that every attendee, no matter their specialty, type of practice, or level of experience will benefit from the program. For trainees as well as practicing surgeons, it offers a multitude of opportunities for learning and networking.

As pancreatic surgeons and researchers, we attend DDW to share our research and interact with colleagues. Pancreatic surgery is an increasingly multidisciplinary field, and we enjoy exchanging ideas with our GI colleagues and hearing their perspectives on controversial topics.

Headshot Collage_Eskander and Tseng

For residents, the program offers an expansive look at the current state of gastrointestinal medical and surgical management, which is useful both for career planning and the development of a deepening fund of knowledge about abdominal pathology. On the first day of the conference is a surgery research symposium specifically for medical students, residents, and medical students featuring some of the biggest names in abdominal surgery as discussants and moderators. Later that day is a surgical fellowship fair where trainees can ask questions about preparing for and applying to fellowship as well as meet representatives from several programs. (See below for dates and times. RSVP is required by May 11 for admission to these resident activities!)

Sessions to Explore
This year, we are most excited about:

  1. Controversies in GI Surgery Sessions A, B and C — Monday, May 23
    1. POEM vs. Laparoscopic Heller — Which is Now the Gold Standard? (10-11 a.m.)
    2. Mixed-Duct IPMN — Resect or Observe (4-5 p.m.)
    3. Clinical Complete Response After Neoadjuvant Chemoradiation for Rectal Cancer: Watch and Wait or Radical Surgery? (4-5 p.m.)
  2. Pancreatic Disease 1 — Sunday, May 22, 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m.
  3. SSAT/AHPBA/E-AHPBA Joint Symposium: Extending the Limits of Resection for Colorectal Liver Metastases — Monday, May 23, 9-9:30 a.m.
  4. GWC Symposium 2016: Cultivating Strength and Resilience for Women in Gastroenterology and Hepatology — Sunday, May 22, 8-9:30 a.m.

Additional sessions for residents:

  1. SSAT Resident & Fellows Research Conference — Saturday, May 21, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
  2. SSAT Surgical Fellowship Fair — Saturday, May 21, 4-5:30 pm
  3. Work-Life Balance: Preventing or Recovering from Burnout — Sunday May 22, 4-5:30 p.m.

DDW Planning Tools
Attending DDW for the first time can be overwhelming, so we recommend doing some advance planning your program  so you can see your intended highlights.

There are several tools to plan your attendance at DDW:

  1. Download the DDW Digital Agenda Book (available soon as an interactive eBook).
  2. Use the online planner.
  3. Use the DDW mobile app. (search “DDW 2016” in the Apple or Google Play Stores)

By using the mobile app or online planner, you can save sessions of interest to create a customized itinerary. You can also view full the full text of any abstract or search for a presenter/speaker by name. You can narrow down your interests by topic track and on the online planner sort by society.

We like to use the mobile app to map out a potential itinerary in advance. We typically browse the program by day, starring those sessions that interest us. We then view our itinerary in a calendar format to decide between conflicting presentations and plan travel between sessions. The mobile app is especially helpful for last-minute decision making and maps onsite.

We use some of our free time at the conference to stop by the massive Poster Hall to interact with the authors of several hundred interesting projects.

FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE: Remember to leave some unstructured time — to meet new people, to find old friends, to socialize during conference hours or afterwards at local gathering places. San Diego is a great city with fantastic food.

Finally, please consider giving back to the needy in our host city of San Diego in the form of the DDW Giving Back Initiative. Click here to make a donation online.

Learn and enjoy!

JT and ME

Dr. Tseng: I remember my first DDW like it was yesterday. I was a surgical research resident doing a basic science postdoc—a lot like the position that Mariam is in now, although we do outcomes research at SOAR (Surgical Outcomes Analysis & Research). I picked DDW upon advice from residents and faculty because it had the best of both worlds—a prestigious surgical meeting (SSAT) where I could attend talks and meet both famous professors and fellow trainees, and a vibrant multidisciplinary meeting where I could learn from and with other experts in GI disease. In particular, the debates and the combined clinical symposia were exciting and left a strong impression. The sponsored exhibits were and are a great place to learn about the latest technology, medical advances, and educational tools. I have come virtually every year since that time and SSAT, its sister DDW societies, and DDW itself have greatly enriched my practice and my career.

Dr. Eskander: My first DDW was last year when I was a junior research fellow at SOAR. It was the biggest meeting I had attended thus far. I was amazed by the number of academically rigorous abstracts and posters as well as the presence of virtually every expert in the field of GI disease. Like Dr. Tseng, I love that DDW is a multidisciplinary meeting with a strong surgical program via the SSAT. Particularly as a surgical resident, I appreciate the opportunity to explore the connections between GI fields to understand how to provide the best care for my patients. DDW has a special focus on the education of trainees, and it is a fun and informative meeting to attend while still a resident. I’m looking forward to this year and many more to come.