The 8th meeting of OESO was held in Avignon, France on September 3–6, 2006. I had the good fortune of attending the 6th and 7th OESO Congresses in Paris but this one was equally exciting. With its new venue being the Palace of the Popes in Avignon, the meeting was attended by more than 800 physicians and scientists interested in the esophagus.
The title of the OESO congress was “The Foregut, Function-Dysfunction”. The Scientific Director, Professor Robert Giuli, used his excellent educational format of presenting questions, which, in turn, were answered by authorities on the esophagus, making up the content of 6 plenary sessions. Each of these sessions had 20 questions. The first session was chaired by Drs Castell and Clouse on “Recent Advances in Understanding the Motor Function and Dysfunction of the Foregut.” The second session was chaired by Drs Mittal and Gregersen on “Recent Advances in Understanding the Sensory Function and Dysfunction of the Foregut.” The third session was chaired by Drs Cook and Shaker on “Brain-Foregut Connections.” The fourth session was chaired by Drs Pandolfino and Sirfrim on “Imaging Techniques in the Diagnosis of Diseases of the Foregut.” The fifth session was chaired by Drs Hebbard and McCallum on “Pathophysiology and Controversies in GERD.” The final session was chaired by Drs Sampliner and Spechler on “Controversies in Barrett's Esophagus and Barrett's Cancer.”
The answers to the 120 questions will soon be published in a textbook as they have been in past meetings. A typical example of a question and how helpful the answer can be is a question that was asked of Dr Orlando “What is the role of mucosal barrier in acid-induced pain?” Dr Orlando pointed out that the mucosal barrier when studied carefully under the microscope is associated with clear breaks. This is frequently called “spongeosis.” As noted by one of the pathologists, it has not been reported routinely by pathologists who usually report mucosal biopsies as normal. The important information coming from this question is that this might certainly be a difference in the pathology that occurs in GERD. Most think that there is no pathology in most of these patients, whereas spongeosis probably is very common. However, it certainly has not been reported routinely in pathology specimens. There were many, many helpful hints such as this made throughout the meeting.
The plenary sessions were held in the Conclave Room, which is a rectangular room with 6 rows of red upholstered seats on either side facing each other. Although it was somewhat awkward facing half of the audience, the audio/visual aids were outstanding in that there were 4 large side screens in addition to a larger one at one end of the room. The moderators sat at one end of the hall and, through excellent television reproduction, you could see the moderators and the speakers on all 5 screens. The social activities associated with the meeting were also outstanding and enjoyed by many of the attendees. The plenary sessions ran over 3 days. Concurrently, there were 9 topic forums and 9 symposia held by the leaders in esophagology. It certainly was an outstanding meeting in a unique and historical venue. In a separate supplement, we published the abstracts of the meeting and many were presented at the meeting (J Clin Gastroenterol. 2006;40:S163–S220).
During the meeting, it was announced that Dr Giuli will be stepping down as OESO's long-standing Scientific Director, and he will become the Executive Director of the organization. In the new structure of OESO, the Organization will continue to be led by the Officers, now 6 in number: Drs H. D. Appelman (President), S. J. Sontag (President Elect), C. Pellegrini (Vice President), C. Scarpignato (Secretary General), T. H. Gouge (Treasurer), and Dr Giuli, as Executive Director. The Scientific direction of the next OESO congress was entrusted to a “Board of Scientific Direction,” chaired by Drs R. K. Goyal and comprising 3 members: B. Gayet (Surgery), C. Scarpignato (Basic Sciences), and G. Triadafilopoulos (Gastroenterology and GI Endoscopy). The Permanent Scientific Committee of OESO now comprises 75 members, now representing 19 disciplines. It was also announced that OESO plans to move the timetable of the meeting to every 2 years. The meeting in 2008 will be in Monte Carlo, and there are plans for the 2010 in Boston, and in 2012 it will return to Paris.
I, for one, enjoyed the meeting and its format. The Journal is honored to be the official journal for OESO.