An Interview with Dr. Eric J. DeMaria: ASMBS President 2018–19

| June 1, 2019

By Eric J. DeMaria, MD, FACS, FASMBS

President of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (2018-2019) and Professor and Chief of the Division of General/Bariatric Surgery, Department of Surgery at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.

Funding: No funding was provided for this article.

Disclosures: The author reports no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this article.

Bariatric Times. 2019;16(6):8.


This column is dedicated to sharing the vast knowledge and opinions of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) leadership—past and present—on relevant topics in the field of bariatric surgery.

The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) recently announced it will return to holding its own annual meeting and will no longer co-host ObesityWeek with The Obesity Society beginning in 2020. We talked to ASMBS President Dr. Eric DeMaria about the decision, what it means for ObesityWeek 2019 this November and future annual meetings, as well as the society’s goals moving forward.

Why did the American society for metabolic and bariatric surgery (ASMBS) decide to discontinue its participation in ObesityWeek beginning in 2020?

Dr. DeMaria: While we’ve had six years in co-hosting ObesityWeek with The Obesity Society (TOS), going back to conducting our own annual meeting will enable us to be more responsive to the specific needs of our members, exhibitors, and corporate partners; have greater flexibility in determining the dates and locations of future meetings; and create a more intimate environment for idea sharing and networking. And while we will no longer be business partners with TOS on ObesityWeek, we will continue to be strong allies in advancing the science and treatment of obesity and metabolic disease and in improving access to care for patients everywhere.

What does this mean for ObesityWeek 2019?

Dr. DeMaria: ObesityWeek 2019, being held November 3 to 7 in Las Vegas, Nevada, will go on as planned and will be a spectacular meeting. We have a strong program planned and expect more groundbreaking research on bariatric and metabolic surgery to be presented. We had a record number of abstract submissions this year. Also, this year’s theme is diabetes, and in addition to new data on the topic, we will have one of the leading figures in the world of diabetes in attendance. William T. Cefalu, MD, the Chief Scientific and Medical Officer of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and a renowned physician, educator, and researcher, will be our keynote speaker. Dr. Cefalu will have many important and interesting things to say about the role of metabolic surgery in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes and how the view of metabolic surgery is changing among diabetologists.

When the ASMBS resumes having its own Annual Meeting, will it change in any way?

Dr. DeMaria: Members can look forward to an even more enriching and intimate experience in 2020 at the ASMBS 37th Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. In effect, we will be “relaunching” our annual meeting and we will make it our best annual meeting ever. Members can expect the highest quality educational experience and new opportunities for networking with colleagues and friends, plus a few surprises that will enhance the overall meeting experience. TOS will be holding its meeting in the same location; however, ASMBS will have its own programming, registration process, exhibit halls, and social events.

Now that you are halfway through your term, what has been your focus in terms of advancing the goals of the ASMBS?

Dr. DeMaria: We remain focused on increasing the number of procedures for people with obesity and increasing the value of membership for our surgeon and integrated health members. While bariatric surgery is the standard of care for the treatment of severe obesity, only one percent of those who are eligible receive it. We are focused on removing barriers to effective care, which include stringent insurance requirements, obesity and surgery stigma, and misperceptions about the benefits of bariatric surgery among potential patients and healthcare professionals. We are also working closely with other groups and specialties, including the ADA and many others, to increase understanding and referrals for appropriate patients, particularly those with diabetes. 

Any final thoughts as we look forward to ObesityWeek 2019 in November?

Dr. DeMaria: We are looking forward to a successful ObesityWeek 2019, and while it will be our last in its current form, we are confident the strategic decision we made to return to holding our own annual meeting will provide greater value and higher relevance to our members. The future looks bright for the ASMBS and for increasing the number of patients who could benefit from this life-saving and transformational surgery.

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Category: Ask the Leadership, Past Articles

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