In this issue, the abstracts of the World Congress on Iron Metabolism, which convened in Cairns, Australia, from August 18 to 23, 2001 will be published. Our Liver Section Editor, Dr. Kris Kowdley, in conjunction with the local Executive Committee of Drs. Lawrie Powell, Greg Anderson, Grant Ramm, Nathan Subramaniam, and Darrell Crawford and the Bioiron 2001 Congress, agreed to the publication of these 221 abstracts, which reflect the depth and importance of this meeting in mineral metabolism. We thank the physicians listed above for their efforts in bringing this addition to the Journal in this issue to fruition.
Although we have published abstracts of meetings in the past, the Journal is dedicated to enhancing the education of gastroenterologists, hepatologists, and nutritionists in the broad sense. The most recent effort in the past decade in clinical gastroenterology is largely centered around pathologic identification of disease through endoscopic procedures. However, the field of gastroenterology is broad, and mineral metabolism and nutrition are certainly two of the main functions of the gastrointestinal tract. When they are disturbed, disease occurs that becomes a challenge to all gastroenterologists. Certainly, iron, one of the major minerals, reflects the importance of mineral metabolism in gastroenterology.
If one looks at the history of gastroenterology, one can understand the importance of mineral metabolism. We are indebted to Colonel William Crosby, who designed the Crosby capsule in 1956, which helped us understand tropical and nontropical sprue. His efforts were largely in iron metabolism and hematology. Iron, as a single mineral in the elemental chain, is responsible for the diseases of iron loss and malnutrition, clarified by Crosby's effort, iron overload, and hereditary disorders, such as hemochromatosis. Iron overload can affect almost every organ in the body, and, certainly, iron deficiency anemia is a problem that every physician has to deal with in all disciplines. The exciting discoveries in genetics in hemochromatosis has made this relatively common disease more transparent and, hence, more easily diagnosed and should become an important consideration in the differential diagnosis of numerous clinical problems.
For all of the above reasons, the Editorial staff and Publisher are excited and encouraged that the publication of the Bioiron 2001 abstracts in the Journal will enhance the education in the field of gastroenterology and broaden the horizons of this Journal.