Interview #4: Georgeann Mallory
Starting in 2013, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and The Obesity Society (TOS) will co-locate their respective annual meetings under one roof. Obesity Week™ 2013 marks the beginning of an annual collaborative event addressing obesity—a chronic and multifaceted metabolic disease. Leading up to Obesity Week 2013, Bariatric Times will feature interviews with members of the leadership team involved in organizing this historic event. This month, we feature an interview with Georgeann Mallory, Executive Director of ASMBS.
Bariatric Times. 2013;10(4):28–29
Ms. Mallory, please tell us a little bit about your career background. How did you come to work for ASMBS?
I started my career in bariatric surgery as a dietitian working for a bariatric surgeon in private practice. I became involved with the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) in 1990, when it was called the American Society for Bariatric Surgery (ASBS), shortly after joining the practice and was the first appointed chair of the Allied Health Committee. In 1995, the Society was seeking a new Executive Director and offered me the opportunity based largely on the work I had done with the Allied Health Committee. I was thrilled! January 1, 1996 was my first official day as Executive Director. I continued my full-time work as a dietitian (at the time the ASBS only had about 250 members). As the ASBS began to grow, I could no longer manage it as a part-time job, much less a second job, and eventually had to make a choice. To this day, I miss working with patients, but I love the work I do with the ASMBS, the professional and caring people I get to work with, and that I still can help make a difference.
In your 17 years serving as Executive Director, how have you seen the ASMBS evolve? What significant events/milestones come to mind?
This year, the ASMBS celebrates its 30th anniversary. We have grown from an organization of about 100 surgeons to one of more than 4,000 surgeons and Integrated Health members who represent every aspect of patient care.
Our members have contributed to a greater understanding of the disease process of obesity and related diseases, the power of surgical intervention, the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to the disease, and the need for greater patient access to proven treatments. More importantly, our members have helped hundreds of thousands patients live longer and healthier lives and have done so with tremendous dedication, passion and compassion.
Expanded view of surgery. When the ASBS changed its name to ASMBS in 2007 with the overwhelming support of its members, it marked a turning point in the treatment of obesity and related diseases and the role of surgery. No longer would surgical success be measured in pounds. The evidence demonstrated that bariatric, and now metabolic, surgery could safely and effectively treat type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and other metabolic diseases in ways no other treatment could. In 2009, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) issued guidelines that, for the first in its history, recommended bariatric surgery be considered for people with morbid obesity and T2DM, a position that the ADA any many other organizations and experts continue to support.
Safety and quality improvement. Today, the scientific data show bariatric and metabolic surgery is safer than ever. Improvements in surgical practice and techniques have contributed to complication and mortality rates that are comparable to laparoscopic gallbladder surgery or hip replacement. The ASMBS and its members, however, remain committed to continuous quality improvement and in expanding access to care. We expect to fully launch the ASMBS/American College of Surgeons (ACS) Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) by the end of the year. This program will help ensure that patients in need have access to the very best treatment from qualified practices and institutions.
Leadership and recognition. The ASMBS has become a powerful voice in the national and international discussion of obesity. Our society is represented at major medical and policy meetings throughout the world, and we have taken an active role in increasing public understanding of obesity and its treatments through active engagement of the world’s news media. Last year alone, our outreach to the media resulted in more than one billion impressions through coverage by news outlets, including the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, ABC, CBS, and NBC news, Reuters, CNN and many more.
ASMBS annual meeting and education. Premier educational programs are the cornerstones of the ASMBS. Each year our annual meeting gets better and better providing a variety of substantive learning experiences and professional development opportunities for our members. In addition, throughout the year we offer targeted courses and presentations all over the world. The focus of these meetings is to educate, inform, and discuss the latest science, techniques, and technologies, and best practices as our members strive to improve patient outcomes.
Do you think the launch of Obesity Week is an important accomplishment for both the ASMBS and TOS? Why?
Obesity Week (OW) is a great concept and provides an incredible educational opportunity for ASMBS and TOS members. Where else in the world does one meeting bring together the full spectrum of professionals, representing numerous disciplines, who are world renowned for researching the puzzles of this complex disease, as well as those known for their work to advance the treatment options and continuum of care for individuals with obesity?
Not only is there the advantage of face-to-face exchange of knowledge and ideas through formal programming, the dialog that occurs between colleagues at conferences is invaluable to the learning process. Everyone has the opportunity to make their learning experience as broad or as focused as they choose.
What is your role in the planning and organization of Obesity Week 2013?
The planning of OW has truly been a joint effort between TOS and the ASMBS. With the exception of our individual educational programming, everything, down to the minutest detail, is decided together. It is my role, along with the ASMBS team, to represent the ASMBS’s perspective and needs in planning the logistics of the meeting. I work very closely with my counterpart at TOS, Francesca Dea, and am enjoying getting to know the TOS team as well. Francesca and I also participate on the Obesity Week Board of Directors and Board of Managers that serve to guide the direction and strategic planning of OW. The success of OW will come from the fact that not only is the education exceptional, TOS and ASMBS have a strong partnership, good working relationship, and a mutual commitment to OW being a successful endeavor for both organizations.
Do you think Obesity Week will draw more media attention to obesity as a disease and the research/work being done currently? Do you hope it draws such attention?
Important issues will be discussed at OW, from cutting edge basic science and clinical research to intervention and public policy. We hope the media attention we receive is commensurate with the importance of the information to the millions of people throughout the world who are battling the disease of obesity.
Ms. Mallory, thank you again for taking the time to speak to us. We look forward to seeing you at Obesity Week 2013.
To learn more about Obesity Week 2013, please visit www.obesityweek.com.
Obesity Week Upcoming Dates and Venues
Obesity Week 2013
Obesity Week 2014
Obesity Week 2015
Los Angeles, California
A Reminder from the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery
The 30th Annual Meeting of the ASMBS will be moved to November 11–16, 2013 and will take place during Obesity Week in Atlanta, Georgia! We look forward to seeing you there!