It is indeed an honour to be elected as the President of ESNM. I have been a member of this society since I was an early career researcher and have had the good fortune of serving it previously as a steering committee member. I am very grateful for the confidence shown in me by the ESNM steering committee and other members and I will try my very best to live up to your expectations.
ESNM has taken great strides forward since its inception due the foresight and dedication of its leadership that has steered the society towards the excellent current international standing that it enjoys. The society has successfully participated in a wide range of educational, research support and policy initiatives in line with its mission to spearhead the advancement of neurogastroenterology and motility in Europe and beyond.
I hope to continue the great traditions set by my predecessors and to add value to the mission of the society. I foresee our society expanding its boundaries from its traditional base to the newer horizons presented to us by recent scientific advances.
My vision is that neurogastroenterology should take centre stage within gastroenterology and beyond for the following reasons:
- Functional gastrointestinal disorders account for the majority of the workload of gastroenterologists and these disorders cause high morbidity and health care costs, and poor quality of life.
- Aside from functional gastrointestinal disorders, the gut-brain axis plays a important role in the pathophysiology of a range of other gastrointestinal diseases including inflammatory bowel disease and hepatic encephalopathy etc.
- The horizons of our specialty go beyond gastroenterology into neurodegenerative, neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders, and autoimmune disease where the role of gut microbiota and the gut-brain axis are now recognized as critical to understanding these diseases.
- The overlap between functional gastrointestinal disorders and connective tissue disorders is increasingly being recognized.
- We are living in unusual times with the COVID-19 crisis. GI symptoms are not only amongst the main symptoms during acute illness but also are a part of ‘long COVID’. A promising hypothesis recently put forward for CNS involvement in COVID infections includes an important role for the gut-brain axis.
I will work closely with the steering committee to ensure that ESNM continues to make a significant contribution to influencing education, research and policy in all the above-mentioned fields. We will also endeavour to open channels of communication with experts in other specialties, which overlap with us so that we can enrich the environment that we operate in.
I would sincerely like to thank Professor Giovanni Barbara for the immense contribution he has made to the society in many different capacities but most significantly as President. Under his leadership the society has flourished tremendously and he will be a hard act for me to follow. I would also like to thank Professor Paul Enck who has been my mentor since I was a PhD student. Until recently he was the Treasurer but he has served the society in many other capacities and has made a major contribution to its advancement.
Finally, I would like to urge ESNM members to participate proactively in the society’s activities. Any suggestions about how we may improve the society will be warmly welcome. We will of course be increasing our engagement through a range of online and virtual educational activities to respond to the challenges posed by the current COVID-19 crisis..
I look forward to the challenging times ahead and feel both honoured and humbled to be the president of ESNM.