John Saltzman

John Saltzman

Recognized for its quality of service, the expertise of its faculty and the contributions it has made to international teaching in digestive endoscopy, BWH’s Endoscopy Center was recently designated for the second time as a Center of Excellence by the World Endoscopy Organization (WEO).

“Our goal is to train physicians and fellows to become leaders in the field,” said John Saltzman, MD, director of the BWH Endoscopy Center and chair of educational affairs for the American College of Gastroenterology. “We choose physicians who have the drive to make lasting contributions to the work we do every day to care for our patients.”

Endoscopy is a nonsurgical procedure that is used to examine and treat issues inside a person’s digestive tract. The Endoscopy Center at BWH offers inpatient evaluations, outpatient evaluations and treatments for disorders of the esophagus, stomach, small bowel, colon and the biliary/pancreatic system.

The WEO Centers of Excellence are a select group of endoscopy units that are chosen from around the world. BWH was one of 16 Centers of Excellence to be designated this year. The designation, which lasts through 2020, also comes with the expectation that the centers will consider ways that they can collaborate with one another to advance research and teaching.

Saltzman, who was named director of the center in 2006, said he has been building educational programs, including the advanced Endoscopy Fellowship, a specialized program designed for physicians looking for a comprehensive therapeutic endoscopy training program and for those interested in pursuing an academic medical career.

The BWH Endoscopy Center sponsors several major endoscopy courses, including those in Boston, Utah and Bermuda. The center’s leadership for the last 10 years in an international live endoscopy course, the New England Boston International Live Endoscopy Course, also contributed to it being designated as a Center of Excellence.

The course, designed for gastroenterologists, surgical endoscopists, gastroenterology fellows and nurses, includes simultaneous live viewings of endoscopic procedures being performed at hospitals including BWH, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Medical Center. The course employs a wide range of internationally renowned endoscopists, including Saltzman and other members of his team.

Describing his team as a “powerhouse of innovative ideas,” Saltzman said team members also teach various courses each year to clinicians around the country on different endoscopy techniques, such as reducing weight endoscopically. The team is also devoted to research in areas including management of gastrointestinal bleeding and new endoscopic devices.

One technique that Saltzman is especially excited about is being brought to BWH from Japan by physician Hiroyuki Aihara, MD, PhD. Endoscopic submucosal dissection has been applied in Japan primarily to treat gastric (stomach) cancers. The technique, which can be performed in the colon, esophagus or stomach, is used to remove gastrointestinal tumors that have not entered the muscle layer.

Aihara is a recognized expert in the performance of endoscopic submucosal dissection of the colon and previously spent two years at BWH in a research position before joining the center in a clinical role earlier this month.

“Hiroyuki is bringing with him a skill that is new to the U.S.,” Saltzman said. “He knows this technique at an advanced level, and we are excited to begin to employ it here to improve patient care.”