New Committee Members in P-ECCO
David Wilson, P-ECCO Chair
The mission of the Paediatric Committee of ECCO is improving knowledge on paediatric-specific IBD issues as well as supporting and facilitating research into paediatric IBD. During the ECCO Congress in Copenhagen, P-ECCO said goodbye to Patrick van Rheenen and Jaroslaw Kierkus. We greatly thanked them for all their contributions to P-ECCO and welcomed two new members: Johan van Limbergen and Amit Assa.
| Johan Van Limbergen
Johan Van Limbergen – Johan – was born in Aalst, Belgium and as a medical student graduated magna cum laude from the University of Leuven. Faced with north-western European weather and already displaying a fondness for travel, Johan split his 2 years as an intern between Leuven and Santiago, Chile. He then commenced paediatric training in Edinburgh, Scotland in August 2001, and, being intrigued by paediatric gastroenterology, subsequently had a research fellowship from 2005 to 2008 at the University of Edinburgh, studying the genetics of paediatric-onset IBD (PIBD) under the supervision of David Wilson and Jack Satsangi. Johan published prolifically, won many awards and completed his PhD, while returning to complete general paediatric training and continuing as a Clinical Lecturer. Johan then formally trained in paediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition (PGHAN) between Edinburgh and Toronto, in the latter case under the mentorship of Anne Griffiths. He was recognised as an outstanding clinical academic trainee in both centres. Loving Canada, he and his Chilean wife and trilingual son moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he continued to excel as a clinician scientist at Dalhousie University and IWK Health Centre. His clinical and translational interest in IBD has continued in genetics but has embraced both the microbiome and dietary therapy, with multiple grants and papers, while still demonstrating his love of clinical care of PIBD (and cycling, cuisine, football and Belgian beer and chocolate). From Halifax, Johan has continued to be a European, and he is a member of ECCO and the ESPGHAN Paediatric IBD Porto Group. We are delighted to note that in addition to joining P-ECCO, Johan, accompanied by his family, will be coming home to Europe: he commences his new position in Amsterdam in June 2019.
Amit Assa – Amit – was born in Israel and is one of the few ECCO Members to be a fully qualified doctor and helicopter pilot. Not only did Amit fly high above the Middle East as a pilot, he also flew high as a mature medical student and then intern at the Sackler School of Medicine and Tel Aviv University, qualifying as an MD in 1999. He began a residency in paediatrics in Tel Aviv and also gained a Masters in Health Administration while continuing his role at the IDF Aero-Medical Centre. His journey then took him to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto in 2011, where he was proudly the oldest ever Fellow in PGHAN – but also one of the most hard working and productive. He returned to the Schneider Children Medical Center, Petach Tivkah and Tel Aviv University in January 2014 as Head of the PIBD programme, where he inspires students and residents alike. Despite a very busy clinical role, Amit’s love of IBD research is reflected in his drive and success in becoming an amazingly prolific IBD author, a much sought after speaker and a highly respected member of ECCO and the ESPGHAN Paediatric IBD Porto Group. He is very well supported by his wife and three children, and his academic expertise does not clash with his love of life and sense of fun.