Highlights from

ECCO 2019

European Crohn's and Colitis Organisation's 14th congress

Copenhagen 6-9 March 2019

Interview with Prof. Janneke van der Woude, MD

Interview with Prof. Janneke van der Woude, MD, conducted on 9 March 2019 in Copenhagen, Denmark, by Michiel Tent. Prof. Van der Woude is a gastroenterologist specialised in IBD at the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, as well as chair member of the organising committee of the 14th edition of the ECCO meeting.

Prof. Van der Woude, this is the largest ECCO meeting ever with over 8,000 attendees from 84 countries. Why does this meeting attract so many participants from all over the world?

“We are very happy to attract so many attendants from all corners of the globe. I think part of it has to do with the increase in the incidence of IBD worldwide, including countries like China and Japan. Consequently, gastroenterologists worldwide are interested in the latest news regarding treatments in the field of IBD.

Compared with previous editions, what is new about the way this year’s meeting is organised?

“I think the organising committee is doing a really good job, implementing a few changes this year but not too many. There are numerous opportunities for everyone to be updated on different topics regarding IBD, ranging from, for example, imaging to clinical trial updates. There is something for everyone.”

Of all the topics that are presented here, which ones would you like to draw our special attention to?

“It is very difficult to choose because IBD is such a complicated condition with so many important aspects, such as quality of life, advances in treatment, and basic research into the causes of IBD.”

What are the biggest challenges in the field?

“We still have to further improve our patients' quality of life: they still complain about things like fatigue and intestinal pain. We have to listen to them better, and ensure they are involved in clinical studies whenever possible. We still do not have that many options to treat the really invalidating consequences of Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. All our efforts and research will hopefully result one day in finding the 'holy grail', being a cure for IBD. In an even more distant future, we would also like to be able to predict who will get IBD, enabling very early intervention.”

You mentioned curing IBD; where do you think we will stand in 5 or 10 years? Will a cure be available by then?

“That may be a little too optimistic; I have been hoping to see a cure for IBD for 20 years already. At any rate, we are gaining insight into the pathogenesis of IBD. We may be able to better select specific patient groups for specific targeted treatments; resulting if not in curing the disease, at least in treating it more effectively at an early stage.”

Top image: © Pornpak Khunatorn

Article image: Medicom

The content and interpretation of these conference highlights are the views and comments of the speakers/authors.