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Historic Beginnings of the American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society (ANMS)

Raj Goyal, MD









History Courtesy of Raj Goyal, MD

In 1979, the idea developed among several investigators that an open society focused on gastrointestinal motility merited consideration. Individuals in this initial group included James Christensen, Raj Goyal, Norm Weisbrodt and Tom Burks. The impetus behind their thinking was that research in gastrointestinal motility had expanded to the point that conventional forums did not provide adequate opportunity for young investigators to present theirwork. Consequently, it was believed that an open meeting, held on alternate years with the International Motility Symposium, would expand the opportunity for investigators to present their work and receive appropriate constructive criticism. It was envisioned that any society developing out of these efforts would serve to promote research in gastrointestinal motor function.

To explore the level of interest in such an effort, a questionnaire was distributed in the fall of 1979 to all those deemed potentially interested in gastrointestinal motility. Based on the favorable response, an ad hoc Steering Committee was formed consisting of Tom Burks, Jim Christensen and Raj Goyal. Tom Burks accepted the responsibility for organizing the first ANMS scientific meeting, to be held in Tucson. A committee for identifying keynote speakers was comprised of Norm Weisbrodt, Peter Biancani and Robert Fisher. Additionally, a committee was formed to develop a post-graduate education course to be held in conjunction with the scientific meeting. The course committee consisted of Jerry Dodds, Chuck Pope, Don Castell, Bill Snape, Jose Behar and Dick Welch.

The first ANMS scientific meeting was held in Tucson, Arizona on October 27-29, 1980. The scientific meeting was preceded by a one-day course on the clinical evaluation of esophageal motility. About 100 abstracts were submitted for the scientific meeting and the meeting was attended by 140 individuals. The meeting was exceptionally well organized by Tom Burks. Those who attended thought that the meeting was a substantial success. The one-day course on the esophagus, organized by Walter Hogan and Jerry Dodds was also well received. This meeting was attended by approximately 130 registrants.

Stemming from the favorable experience of the Tucson meeting, the ad hoc ANMS Steering Committee was expanded to include Joe Szurszewski, Sid Cohen, Peter Biancani and Jerry Dodds in addition to Jim Christensen, Raj Goyal and Tom Burks. Raj Goyal was selected to organize the 1982 ANMS meeting. Discussions among the Steering Committee members, conducted mainly at the time of the AGA meetings, began to consider the desirability of formalizing the ANMS. These discussions were prompted by the recognition that the financial aspects of an ad hoc society not sanctioned legally. For example, donations to the society, deductions for meeting expenses and bank account interest are all subject to taxation unless the society were appropriately constituted and registered as a nonprofit organization. Jim Christensen, Sid Cohen and Jerry Dodds agreed to explore the possibilities of formalizing ANMS as a registered organization.

The second ANMS meeting was held just outside Boston at Pine Manor College, Brookline, Massachusetts on August 11-13, 1982. Attendance for the 3-day scientific meeting was 160 persons. The meeting format included 10-minute papers followed by 10-minute discussions and also a number of excellent keynote speakers. The overall scientific quality of presentation was judged to be of high caliber. A one-day course on clinical disorders of esophageal and gastric empting followed the scientific meeting. This course was organized by Andre Dubois and Don Castell. Attendance at the course was about 50 persons. The course was conducted as a seminar with free audience participation.

During this year’s scientific meeting of the ANMS, the ad hoc Steering Committee met to review and revise a set of Articles and Bylaws for the Society prepared by Jim Christensen. A committee consisting of Norm Weisbrodt, Don Castell and Herb Ormsby was appointed to nominate an initial slate of officers for a Governing Board. On the evening of August 12, 1982 the ad hoc Steering Committee met with those individuals present at the meeting who were interested in the formation of a motility society. Eighty-five individuals were present. Raj Goyal presided over the meeting. As the first order of business, Jim Christensen reviewed the proposed Articles and Bylaws for the Society. Next, Norm Weisbrodt presented proposed nominations for the Governing Board. Opportunity for nominations from the floor was provided. By voice affirmation, the following individuals were elected to the ANMS Governing Board: President – James Christensen; President-elect – Raj Goyal; Vice-President – Jerry Dodds; Secretary-Treasurer – Don Castell; Councilor – Peter Biancani. The first meeting of the Governing Board was held immediately following its election. Articles and Bylaws for the ANMS were then filed and registered in Iowa. An invitation for charter membership in the ANMS will be sent to all individuals present at either of the two initial Society meetings and also to any others judged to be interested. Future members may join by a simple process of application. Wisconsin was selectedas the site of the 1984 ANMS meeting. The program committee consisted of Jerry Dodds, Sushil Sarna and Walter Hogan. Potential topics were discussed for the Motility Symposium that is held annually during the AGA meeting. At this time, the AGA has recognized the responsibility of the ANMS to develop this symposium.