Arizona State Chapter of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS)

| July 1, 2021

by David Podkameni, MD, FACS, FASMBS

Dr. Podkameni is the President of the Arizona State Chapter of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).

Funding: No funding was provided.

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

Bariatric Times. 2021;18(7):12.


The Arizona state chapter of the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) was started in 2009. The chapter has always been a nonprofit organization. The first president of the chapter was Dr. Robin Blackstone, and the treasurer was Dr. David Podkameni. Dr. Patrick Chiasson assumed the title of chapter president soon after that. Dr. Podkameni is the current president of the chapter, and Dr. James Madura is the president elect. The position of treasurer is currently vacant. The chapter has always had representation from bariatric programs all throughout the state.

In the early years of the chapter, Dr. Kelvin Higa, past ASMBS president, came to speak to the chapter. The chapter appreciated the knowledge and insight from such a notable ASMBS member. The chapter worked to lobby the Arizona state legislators to obtain bariatric coverage for Arizona state employees. This proved to be an integral move in access to care in Arizona. Now, all the bariatric programs in Arizona are seeing many Arizona state employees for care. Back in 2016, the Arizona state chapter attempted to integrate the chapters in New Mexico and Utah to form a Southwest chapter. The chapters in these states are small, and the thought was to collaborate to increase the impact we have. Although these chapters are all still separate for now, there might be discission in the future to come together as one. There is a possibility that we can do more together.

Throughout the years, the Arizona chapter has sponsored multiple Walk from Obesity events. The entire Arizona chapter participates, and it’s rewarding to see the positive impact it has on patients. We look forward to getting back to more of these events.

Currently, Dr. Christine Lovato and integrative health member, Lauren Pellizzon, RD, are sitting on the Access to Care Committee. This is the first time an integrative health member from the Arizona chapter has sat on the Access to Care committee of ASMBS. This is an important area for the Arizona chapter to have representation. It keeps us informed and always moving forward with care in Arizona. The Arizona chapter is committed to access to care for all Arizonians. Pellizzon has plans to work with other integrative health members and professionals in Arizona to possibly have a yearly meeting. Pellizzon feels it is important for the integrative health professionals to meet and collaborate, especially as bariatric programs are growing in Arizona. Pellizzon is also on the Integrated Health State Chapters/Access to Care Leaders call that started at the end of 2020. This is a way to get integrative health members to be more involved throughout the state and work together. 

The Arizona state chapter has always met multiple times a year, with one of those meetings at Obesity Week. The last meeting the chapter had was in September 2019, right before the COVID-19 pandemic. At this meeting, Dr. Matthew Fourman from Toledo, Ohio, came to discuss technology advances in bariatric surgery—specifically, the advances in robotic bariatric surgery. The chapter also discussed the status of the Arizona state chapter and updates on national ASMBS initiatives. Earlier in 2019, Dr. Cheguevara Afaneh from New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center came to have an open discussion on the state of bariatrics and technology. Both meetings in 2019 had representation from bariatric programs from all over Arizona. The Arizona chapter is working on getting back to regular meetings. Although the Arizona chapter is small, these meetings prove to be the best way to collaborate with bariatric surgeons and teams in Arizona and continue to move obesity care forward in Arizona.

Board of Directors: 

  • Dr. David Podkameni, President
  • Dr. James Madura, Vice President
  • Dr. Christine Lovato, STAR
  • Lauren Pellizzon, Integrated Health Representative

Past Presidents:

  • Dr. Robin Blackstone
  • Dr. Patrick Chiasson

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Category: ASMBS State Chapter Spotlight, Current Issue

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