The Gut Microbiota & Health section of the European Society of Neurogastroenterology & Motility (ESNM) is now operating in partnership with three new organizations: the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), the European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation (ECCO), and the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN).
Prof. Fernando Azpiroz
Professor F. Azpiroz, a gastroenterologist at Hospital Universitari Vall d’Hebron in Barcelona, Spain, is a longtime member of the ESNM. He was president of the society for some ten years, and was involved in the founding of its Gut Microbiota & Health section. « About three years ago, the interest in microbiota became apparent in the area of gastroenterology, » he says. « We decided to create a section of microbiota and health. So this was an initiative, given the interest in the field and the strong relation with gastroenterology, particularly with motility and sensitivity. » Azpiroz currently serves as chair of the Gut Microbiota & Health section, whose activities include the Gut Microbiota for Health Experts Exchange website and the annual Gut Summit.
« There are other areas within gastroenterology that have also an interest in microbiota, » says Azpiroz. «Specifically, EASL, ECCO, and ESPGHAN. » The Gut Microbiota & Health section has now formalized their involvement with these three new organisations, which currently operate as ‘sister’ groups under the umbrella of United European Gastroenterology (UEG).
The new organizations are not primarily focused on the gut microbiota, but as the research has evolved, their interest in the field has grown. « In these particular areas, microbiota is believed to play an important role. So they were also interested in joining forces, » says Azpiroz.
« Instead of creating a new society within UEG, we decided to use the structure that was already operating within the European Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility. We decided that we would offer positions on the board of directors of the section to designated representative members of these societies, and that’s what we did. Now the board of the section is constituted of members of the ESNM as well as EASL, ESPGHAN, and ECCO, as well as independent members, basic scientists and microbiologists. »
Azpiroz explains, « Even if, from an organizational point of view, the Gut Microbiota & Health section is part of the ESNM, actually it operates as an independent and multidisciplinary organization focused on microbiota and probiotics. »
He says that although the Gut Microbiota & Health section is based in Europe, they have forged close relationships with experts in North America, Latin America, and elsewhere in the world. They hope the organization might grow so that the international gut microbiota community might profit from any efforts.
« The field is still expanding, » says Azpiroz. « To date we still do not know what will be the extent of our interest and our organization. It’s becoming clear that microbiota might play an important role in different areas of human physiology and pathophysiology. And what we would like is, first, to be able to accommodate all interested parties within our organization, and second, to coordinate our activities with, and join forces with, similar organizations in different parts of the world. »
This interview was originally published in our Year at a Glance document: The best of the Gut Microbiota for Health Experts Exchange in 2014.