As patients demand greater access to interventional and minimally invasive digestive care treatments, clinicians must be knowledgeable on the newest technologies and innovations. These are the market forces of healthcare at work. – Dr. Michel Kahaleh.

NewYork-Presbyterian, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Weill Cornell Medical College are pleased to extend an invitation to the Third Annual Peter D. Stevens Course on Innovations in Digestive Care accredited course to be held on April 10th and April 11th in New York City. The Co-Directors, Dr. Frank G. Gress, Dr. Michel Kahaleh, Dr. Amrita Sethi, and Dr. Robbyn Sockolow, recently met to discuss the rational behind this year’s program. What follows is a summarized transcript of their conversation.


Question: What is the history behind the Third Annual Peter D. Stevens Course on Innovations in Digestive Care?

Answer: The course is a tribute to Dr. Peter D. Stevens, a beloved leader in the field of digestive care. Dr. Stevens was a faculty member of the GI Division of NYP/Columbia University Medical Center who died three years ago.

Q: How is the Digestive Care course structured?

A: The course is divided into three-hour sessions covering the esophagus, pancreas, GI lumen, colon & rectum, and the hepatobiliary system. The sessions are held at separate times so participants can attend all five. The course is taught through didactic sessions, hands-on animal tissue labs, and live cases sessions.

Q: What is the advantage to having a course on the entire digestive system?

A: Gastroenterological clinicians treat and diagnose all parts of the digestive system. Patients will at times present with more than one gastrointestinal condition. Since the technologies and procedures used to treat these are similar, it only makes sense to combine these topics into one program.

Q: What is the value of live cases sessions?

A: Unforeseen complications or challenges can occur during a live case and attendees can see how experts in the field manage these. This wouldn’t happen during a lecture or a prepared demonstration.

Q: How are the live cases sessions organized?

A: The live cases aren’t always known ahead of time. The hospital would never delay the care of a patient for the sake of a course. But being a tertiary care institution, NYP/Columbia is presented with complex cases daily. This provides for interesting learning experiences that would not be available elsewhere.

Q: Where will the course be held?

A: This year, the course will on the NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center campus in northern Manhattan. NYP/Columbia is fortunate to have a start-of-the-art endoscopic lab and a brand new endoscopic suite. Attending clinicians can learn how to use equipment that may not be available in their offices or centers.

An example would be the new SpyGlass Direct Visualization System used for cholangioscopy. This is a 6,000 megapixel fiber optic cable used to image the bile and pancreatic ducts. When using this scope, physicians have better views of the diseased areas, can more accurately diagnose and in some cases intervene in one procedure.

Another exciting technology for presentation will be Confocal Laser Endomicroscopy (CLE). CLE allows for the viewing of cells in the body as if they were under a microscope. Cancers can be seen at earlier stages without the need for a biopsy.

Q: What will be covered in this year’s presentations and cases?

A: Dr. Sethi is presenting on “Endoscopic Innovations in Bariatric Surgery.” This will include endoscopic methods to treat complications arising from bariatric surgeries, as well as primary endoscopic procedures for weight loss.

Endoscopic Submucosal Dissection (ESD) will be discussed and might be part of a live case. Used mostly in the bowel, ESD allows for the removal of submucosal tissue down to the muscle level by a needle knife. This is state of the art care in Asia but new to the United States. As a minimally invasive procedure, patients can avoid the risks of open surgery.

Dr. Kahaleh will discuss and demonstrate Peroral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM). In the past, many achalasia patients were treated with balloon dilation or open surgical procedures. POEM treats achalasia by making an incision in the muscles and the lower sphincter of the esophagus. This allows the muscle to relax and opens the lumen.

Q: What else would be important to know about this year’s course?

An important part of this year’s course is the large number of medical industry supporters. To prevent any conflicts of interest, every GI related company was invited to participate. Attending physicians can see and use all digestive care device technologies on the market.

For more information about the Third Annual Peter D. Stevens Course on Innovations in Digestive Care contact Jessica Scully at 212-304-7817 or at


Dr. Kato to Receive 2014 Nobility in Science Award

by Columbia Surgery on February 26, 2014

Tomoaki Kato, MD

Tomoaki Kato, MD

The Sarcoma Foundation of America will award Tomoaki Kato, MD its 2014 Nobility in Science Award at its 12th SFA Annual Gala, “Finding the Cure in Our Time-Generating Hope” on Monday, May 5, 2014. Dr. Kato is Surgical Director for Liver and Gastrointestinal Transplantation and Chief, Division of Abdominal Transplantation, at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center

The Nobility in Science Award honors an individual who has made outstanding advancements in the areas of sarcoma research and treatment. The foundation chose Dr. Kato in recognition of his achievements in “ex vivo” transplant surgery, which entails the removal and re-implantation of as many as six abdominal organs. In an 18-hour surgery that was featured on ABC’s NY Med, Dr. Kato saved the life of one of the foundation’s Board Members by removing her abdominal organs, clearing them of the sarcoma, and replacing them back into her body.

In addition to receiving the Nobility in Science award, Dr. Kato will also speak at the Sarcoma Foundation of America’s Annual Educational Conference, Ask the Experts: Advances in Sarcoma Treatment and Research on May 4, 2014.

Learn more about Dr. Kato’s innovative work at


“Alive with a New, Old Liver”

February 11, 2014

TweetNew York Times Highlights Creative Liver Transplant Surgery in Children In recognition of February being Organ Donor Awareness Month, we share an inspiring story from the New York Times. When you think about organ donation, you may think about the prospect of donating organs after a loved one’s (or your own) untimely death. Or perhaps […]

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First Fully Laparoscopic Adult-to-Adult Liver Donation Saves Daughter’s Life; Dr. Samstein publishes in American Journal of Transplantation

January 17, 2014

TweetWestfield NJ, December 2013 – Together with her extended family, 14-year-old liver transplant recipient Elle Haley enjoyed an extra special celebration of the holidays and the marriage of her grandparents. The year before, she received a portion of her father’s liver in what would be a groundbreaking procedure: Benjamin Samstein, MD, Surgical Director of the […]

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New Treatments for Hepatitis C

December 18, 2013

TweetHepatitis C (HCV) is an infection that primarily affects the liver. In the majority of persons, HCV infection becomes chronic and if left untreated can cause numerous outcomes, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. HCV-related end-stage liver disease is the leading cause of liver transplantation in the United States. Chronic HCV affects nearly four million Americans, […]

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Laparoscopic Living Donor Hepatectomy at Columbia

November 8, 2013

TweetThis past September, three medical centers across the world simultaneously reported the first fully laparoscopic living donor hepatectomies on adults donating to other adults. One of these centers was in Belgium, another in France, and the third was here in New York City, at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. A living donor hepatectomy is a […]

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American Liver Foundation Honors Jean Emond, MD as Physician of the Year

August 27, 2013

TweetThe American Liver Foundation has named Jean Emond, MD, as Physician of the Year. He will be honored at the foundation’s 13th annual Honors Gala Saluting Champions of Excellence September 26, 2013, at Gotham Hall in New York City. Dr. Emond is Vice Chair and Chief of Liver Transplantation at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia and Executive Director of […]

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Save the Date: Sharing Life Day

April 7, 2013

TweetReserve your place at the Transplant Forum April 28, 2013. Has your life been touched in any way by organ transplantation? If so, you may already appreciate that every organ transplant is made possible by unprecedented collaboration among scores of people. Obvious contributors include the surgeons, physicians, and nurses who perform organ transplantation every day. […]

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What is Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)?

March 27, 2013

TweetWith the media focusing on how the obesity epidemic impacts cardiac health, many do not realize that liver health is also affected by obesity as shown in the increasing incidence of Fatty Liver Disease (FLD) cases. Here are some questions about FLD with answers from our expert doctors. What is Fatty Liver Disease (FLD)? Are […]

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Show Your Love: Feb. 14 is National Organ Donor Day

February 14, 2013

TweetEveryone knows today is Valentine’s Day; you may even be in a chocolate coma by now, or enjoying the delicious fragrance of flowers from your sweetheart.  But did you also know that it is National Organ Donor Day? National Organ Donor Day recognizes another kind of love: the truly selfless, altruistic act of giving the […]

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