Development of the International Bariatric Club: A Worldwide Internet Network for Bariatric Surgeons

| January 18, 2012

by Haris A. Khwaja, MD, PhD; Marius A. Nedelcu, MD; Manoel Galvão Neto, MD; Mervyn Deitel, MD;
Philip R. Schauer, MD; and Tomasz G. Rogula, MD, PhD

Dr. Khwaja is from Gravitas Bariatric Surgery, Ltd., Spire Murrayfield Hospital, Liverpool, United Kingdom; Dr. Nedelcu is a resident in General Surgery, the University Hospital of Montpellier, Montpellier, France. Dr. Neto is Scientific Coordinator for Gastro Obeso Center, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Dr. Deitel is Editor-in- Chielf of Obesity Surgery. Dr. Schauer is Director, Cleveland Clinic, Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Rogula is Assistant Professor of Surgery, Cleveland Clinic, Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, Cleveland, Ohio.

Disclosures: Drs. Khwaja, Nedelcu, Deitel, Schauer, and Rogula report no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this article. Dr. Neto is an international consultant for the following companies: Ethicon Endosurgery, Cincinnati, Ohio; GI Dynamics, Lexington, Massachusetts; and Apollo Endosurgery, Austin, Texas.

Bariatric Times. 2012;9(1):28–29

The Early Days
The International Bariatric Club (IBC) was conceived and established by Dr. Tomasz Rogula, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Cleveland Clinic, Ohio; Dr. Raul Rosenthal, Professor of Surgery, Cleveland Clinic, Florida; and Dr. Philip R. Schauer, Professor of Surgery, Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, in 2008. Initially, the club consisted of a monthly seminar broadcast over the internet with the help of internet conferencing (WebEx, Cisco Systems, Inc., San Jose, California) based at both Cleveland Clinic campuses. These one-hour talks were built within the curriculums of the fellowship in advanced laparoscopy/bariatric surgery of both institutions. The combined monthly webinar was established with the aim to consolidate the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Fellowship education program. The Fellows would present a concise review of 1 to 2 recently published bariatric papers in reputable journals. These webinars initially attracted a small online audience and allowed for questions to be submitted to the speaker.

Dr. Khwaja, the first author of this synopsis, presented such a webinar in September 2009 during his fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio; a review of the paper “Prevalence of thrombophilias in patients presenting for bariatric surgery.” The paper had just been published and clearly was of great educational value and interest not only to the attendees at the Cleveland Clinic but also to the online audience. It was apparent at this embryonic stage of the IBC it certainly had the potential to expand into a powerful medium for the exchange of bariatric knowledge throughout the world. Indeed, from these early days, IBC has grown significantly in terms of membership and its’ range of activities. The club still remains a free, nonprofit organization open to all bariatric surgery/medicine professionals and easily accessible online to registered participants.

AIMS AND GLOBAL EXPANSION
In November 2010, the IBC Facebook page was set up with the aim of promoting free discusson with bariatric professionals throughout the world on a daily basis. Following its launch on Facebook, the membership of the IBC expanded exponentially. As of December 15, 2011 there are 393 members from Europe, Asia, Africa Australia, North and South America. The aims of the IBC are summarized in Table 1.

WEBINAR ACTIVITIES
The monthly webinar in conjunction with WebEx usually takes place the last Wednesday of the month (17:00 Greenwich Mean Time [GMT]) subject to occasional variation. It provides an opportunity for all members of the IBC to listen to and/or see a high-quality presentation by a national/international expert in bariatric surgery with the chance to pose questions. These lectures are recorded for subsequent viewing. The club has attracted world-renowned presenters practicing at the “cutting edge” of bariatric surgery. Table 2 lists the presentations from 2011 that were not only informative but provided a great opportunity for an interactive onine verbal discussion.

The inaugural nonvirtual IBC Meeting took place at the XVI World Congress of the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders (IFSO) in Hamburg, Germany, in September 2011.

The event was supported by former IFSO President, Professor Rudolph Weiner. The IBC Meeting at IFSO had a large audience and also a large international webinar viewership for the various talks (Table 2). Each talk initiated plenty of discussion amongst the attendees.
A similar event is being organized by the IBC Committee for the IFSO European Chapter (IFSO-EC) meeting in Barcelona, Spain, in April 2012 and at the next IFSO World Congress in New Delhi, India in September 2012.

FUTURE AIMS
The expansion of the IBC has been greatly enhanced by the internet. We are currently concentrating our efforts in maintaining the high standard of monthly webinars with an increasing number of live operating webinars. Indeed, we have an exciting range of topics lined up for the IBC symposium at IFSO-EC in Barcelona, Spain.

The IBC Committee is developing an IBC website and will also be releasing a bi-annual newsletter published in a reputable surgical journal informing our. members of current IBC projects, forthcoming conferences, and courses. Long term, the IBC will enhance clinical research links between bariatric units globally. This is only possible through the recruitment of large numbers of enthusiastic, dedicated bariatric professionals throughout the world as well as the involvement of global leaders in bariatric surgery within the IBC.

MEMBERSHIP
Membership to the International Bariatric Club can be made by sending an e-mail to Dr. Tomasz Rogula, President of the IBC, based at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio (rogulat@ccf.org). A link inviting you to attend the monthly Webinar via WebEx videoconferencing provided by the Cleveland Clinic will be sent to you prior to the presentation. After registering, you will receive a confirmation with the details of the upcoming International Bariatric Club videoconference. Access to the live webinar can be made via computer (PC or Mac) with a webcam or with a smart phone (iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry). Beginning February 2012, membership to the IBC can be submitted via the new IBC website, which is currently under construction.

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