This year, professionals and researchers studying the esophagus will convene in Vienna for the 2018 World Congress of the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus (ISDE 2018). Before the conference gets started, we’ve talked with Drs. Giovanni Zaninotto and Neil Gupta, co-editors-in-chief of the journal Diseases of the Esophagus, about their views on the field and the academic research in the journal.
How did you get involved in Diseases of the Esophagus?
Giovanni: I became a member of ISDE in the nineties and I read the journal since then. When in 2013 I was informed that the society was searching for a surgical co-editor to replace Andre Duranceau, I was interested and applied for the position and I got it!
Neil: Early in my gastroenterology training, I was exposed to esophageal diseases by one of my mentors. After completing my training, my interest in esophageal diseases grew and I continued to work closely with that mentor. When the ISDE was searching for a medical co-editor to replace John Pandolfino, that same mentor suggested that I apply. A few months later, I got a call and said “yes”!
What makes Diseases of the Esophagus unique as a medical journal?
Giovanni: Diseases of the Esophagus occupies a narrow niche in the vast sea of medical scientific journals. As its name states, the journal focuses on the esophagus, that is only a small segment of the gut, but the complexity of its physiology and the difficulty of treating its diseases (the esophagus is deeply buried in the chest and passes through three regions of the human body, the neck, the thorax and the abdomen) have attracted the interest of many physicians and surgeons. Diseases of the Esophagus constitutes the common house where both surgeons and physicians publish their researches and it is a rare example of truly multidisciplinary approach in the field of the medical journals.
Neil: The uniqueness of Diseases of the Esophagus really lies in its multi-disciplinary and international coverage of all things related to the esophagus. While other journals publish certain aspects of esophageal science, Diseases of the Esophagus is the only journal that publishes medical, surgical, endoscopic, radiologic, and oncologic esophageal research from all over the globe.
How do you decide which articles should be published in DOTE?
Giovanni: What I am looking for in a manuscript? Excitement (wow!), originality, importance, relevance to our audience, clearly and engagingly written, and high probability of being cited.
Neil: I’m really looking for something that advances the field of Esophagology. Whether it’s the newest technique, the largest study, or the most rigorous methodology, I’m looking for something that’s unique.
What led each of you to the medical field? What made you choose to focus on esophageal health?
Giovanni: During the final year of the Medical School in Padova, I was attracted by the work of a couple of surgeons who were focusing on esophageal diseases. In the mid-seventies, the esophagus was considered the most difficult organ to treat. Flexible endoscopy was just starting, H2 blockers were not yet entered in the clinical practice, CT scans were far from being of common clinical use, and very little was known about esophageal physiology. A very primitive esophageal lab was started and my final dissertation of the medical school was on esophageal pH-monitoring. A long journey was starting: a few years later, I developed the first portable data-logger to perform ambulatory 24-hour esophageal pH monitoring in Italy, (and in Europe) and after that, I spent one year with Dr. DeMeester at the Creighton University in Omaha, NE as “esophageal fellow” in the Department of Thoracic Surgery. Dr. DeMeester became the most influential mentor in my career and the bond between me and esophageal diseases became permanent.
Neil: It’s really been the work of a handful of mentors I’ve had over the years that has led me to where I am today. Early in my medical training, I had two mentors that took me under their wings and they happened to be gastroenterologists. I got exposed to the field early and always seemed to enjoy my time learning gastroenterology compared to other medical fields. When I started my gastroenterology training, I had the honor to work with Prateek Sharma, who became another mentor for me. He got me exposed to Esophagology and really pushed me to set my goals high. Years later, he and I are close friends.
What developments would you like to see in your field of study?
Giovanni: In the past years, there have been many technological developments both in diagnosis and therapy of esophageal diseases and many others are in the pipeline: to mention one, the possibility of screening for esophageal cancer with a simple analysis of the exhaled breath. We need thorough and well-conducted studies, especially RCTs, to put all these new “gizmos” in the right pathway for the management of esophageal disease.
Neil: I would like to see more high quality clinical studies that really give practicing physicians answers to their real world clinical problems that they see in routine practice. There are lots of common questions we have on a routine basis and haven’t answered for years. I would love to see some of these questions answered once and for all.
What are you most looking forward to at ISDE 2018?
Giovanni: To meet young researchers and have a glimpse at what will be the research in the next years and to strengthen the relationship with old friends.
Neil: To hear some of the great speakers on the agenda, see some of the new research being presented, and to catch up with friends and colleagues.
Join Diseases of the Esophagus for a Meet the Editors session from 11:45-12:45 on Tuesday, 18 September, in room Hörsaal 01 at the 2018 International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus World Congress.
Featured image credit: St. Stephen’s Cathedral by Jacek Dylag. CC0 via Unsplash.