Reflections of a Past President: The ASMBS Presidency Exit Interview of Dr. Raul J. Rosenthal

| May 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

An Interview with:
Raul J. Rosenthal, MD, FACS, FASMBS
Raul J. Rosenthal, MD, FACS, FASMBS, Clinical Editor, Bariatric Times; Professor of Surgery and Chairman, Department of General Surgery; Director of Minimally Invasive Surgery and The Bariatric and Metabolic Institute; General Surgery Residency Program Director; and Director, Fellowship in MIS and Bariatric Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Florida, Weston, Florida; Past President(2015-2016), American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric Times. 2017;14(5):10.

Dr. Rosenthal, congratulations on completing a successful term serving as the 30th President of ASMBS. Please discuss main goals leading into your term and how they were achieved.

Dr. Rosenthal: I began planning for my term as ASMBS President in early 2015. My goals were to continue the projects initiated by my predecessors and also to achieve some milestones that I had set up for myself during my year as a leader. I knew that I wanted to focus on creating awareness, engaging the membership, identifying new stars, and increasing communications via social media. Another important goal in maintaining our relevance was the development of new committees. In 2016, we started several new committees, such as Flexible Endoscopy, Obesity Prevention, General and Foregut Surgery, Military, Video, Community/Independent Practice, and Bariatric Surgery Training.
We saw many important initiatives achieved and bestowed medals of distinction upon their creators. These achievements include the following:
•    The Essentials of Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery App (Daniel B. Jones, MD, MS, FASMBS) available at
•    The competency-based bariatric surgery fellowship training curriculum (Corrigan L. McBride, MD, MBA, FASMBS, FACS)[1]
•    The care pathway for laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (Dana A. Telem, MD, MPH)2
•    The ASMBS Facebook/Twitter media campaign (Neil Floch, MD).

The icing on the cake was the completion of a survey conducted by the ASMBS and NORC, an independent research organization at the University of Chicago. This survey aimed to gauge public perception of obesity, its risks, available treatment methods.[3,4]

Were you surprised by the results from the ASMBS/NORC survey?

Dr. Rosenthal: The ASMBS/NORC survey was indeed surprising. We were pleased to learn that the United States population ranked obesity on  top among serious disease processes together with cancer. However, we were surprised that the great majority of those affected by obesity decide to treat this deadly disease without seeking medical advice. The fact that only 30 percent of those affected perceive surgical treatment as being safe tells us that we have a long way to go in informing the public about the safety and efficacy of bariatric surgery.

What were the big events (e.g., FDA approvals, research) that occurred during your term that impacted the field of metabolic and bariatric surgery? What did they mean for the field?

Dr. Rosenthal: In my opinion, the most important milestone for the field in the past decade was the creation of and endorsement by over 40 societies worldwide of guidelines on the key role of surgery in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity.5 These guidelines are crucial in understanding and adoption of surgery as an important treatment for T2DM. Endorsing societies include the American Diabetes Association (ADA), International Diabetes Federation (IDF), Diabetes UK, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), American College of Surgeons (ACS), and the US Endocrine Society.

What were the highlights of the job? What did you learn through the experience?

Dr. Rosenthal: To coordinate the efforts of an outstanding group of sophisticated physicians trying to  move the field of obesity surgery forward is a challenge. There are tons of great ideas coming from our committee members we could implement; however, because of lack of man power, time, and funding, we often need to make difficult choices and triage.

The best lesson I learned while serving as ASMBS President was that working as a group is crucial to achieve your planned goals.

Have you continued to be involved in ASMBS after passing the gavel?

Dr. Rosenthal: Absolutely. As immediate past president you still belong to the executive committee, and you participate on weekly conference calls helping leaders make decisions that affect our planning for the year to come. Finalizing peer-reviewed publications is also extremely important. Next on my agenda will be to finish my year as president of the Fellowship Council and to lead the ASMBS Nominating Committee for the election in 2018.

1.    McBride CL, Rosenthal RJ, Brethauer S, et al. Constructing a competency-based bariatric surgery fellowship training curriculum. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2017;13(3):437-441.
2.    Telem DA, Gould J, Pesta C, et al. American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery: care pathway for laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2017 Jan 24. [Epub ahead of print])
3.    American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), NORC at the University of Chicago. Obesity Rises to Top Health Concern for Americans, but Misperceptions Persist. October 2016. Accessed April 1, 2017.
4.    American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), NORC at the University of Chicago. New Insights into Americans’ Perceptions and Misperceptions of Obesity Treatments, and the Struggles Many Face. Accessed April 1, 2017.
5.    Rubino F1, Nathan DM2, Eckel RH, et al. Metabolic Surgery in the Treatment Algorithm for Type 2 Diabetes: A Joint Statement by International Diabetes Organizations. Diabetes Care. 2016;39(6):861–77.

Funding: No funding was provided in the preparation of this manuscript.

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

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Category: Interviews, Past Articles

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