COGI: 3rd Controversies in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Infertility

Article Conference CoverageFrom American Association of Gynecological LaparoscopistsSan Francisco, California - November 2001

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Hugo Verhoeven, MD: "My name is Hugo Verhoeven and I'm from the Center for Reproductive Medicine in Germany. I'm reporting from the 30th Annual meeting of the American Association for Gynecological Laparoscopists in San Francisco, California, and I'm sitting with Professor Zion Ben-Rafael who is Professor and Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Tel Aviv, Israel. I've known Professor Ben-Rafael for a very long time. Thank you for sitting down to talk with me."

Zion Ben-Rafael, MD: "Thank you."

Hugo Verhoeven, MD: "A few years ago you had a wonderful idea, you thought it would be a good thing to set up a meeting on controversies in obstetrics and gynecology. I realize that in the last few years everything that we do is controversial. You had the idea together with Professor Shoham who's also from Rehovot, Tel Aviv in Israel so tell me why you had the idea and how everything started." 

Zion Ben-Rafael, MD: "Actually, the idea started off with the fact that we have many meetings and each one devoted some time to a single problem. It's very important to have a meeting on endometriosis, pelvic pain, endoscopy, or IVF but many of the physicians are interested in more than one field. Many times they go to several specific meetings; they're interested in more than one field but they want to know what's going on in other fields. Even if they don't do obstetrics they want to know what's happening in that field and the big things that are changing in that field. First of all, we thought of having a meeting that combines all the fields of obstetrics and gynecology - infertility, adolescent gynecology, and male infertility but then if you had such a meeting you couldn't get in depth in every session and question. So we thought of having a controversy and state of the art meeting, which you get in and you immediately get the sense of where that field is standing and where it is going within an hour or two of the session. You get the best people from all over the world telling you where it's standing and where it's going and you get the most from it in a very short period. We thought it's a very important primary educational tool for a physician who wants to get information from the best of all fields. We don't get new things and we don't have free communication only poster sessions. We invite the best people, and in each one of these congresses there's between 100-140 speakers. Each session takes about two hours and forty-percent of the time is devoted to discussion and exchange of ideas with the speakers and so on. All in all, we think that that's something that brings a new sort of congress or conference to the field and to the obstetricians."

Hugo Verhoeven, MD: "So the idea was two speakers on one special topic and then a big discussion."

Zion Ben-Rafael, MD: "If it is a controversial issue. If it is just a state of the art then somebody that brings you the most advanced and deepest evidence based medicine, not just five or ten cases but the biggest group and the biggest study that gives you these results and how you're basing your results on evidence and not just on impressions and so on."

Hugo Verhoeven, MD: "The first meeting you organized was in Prague and that was immediately a big hit. I was very impressed by the fact that you managed to have on practically each topic that you wanted to discuss the leaders in the world, and that was for me very impressive. How did you manage to impress everybody to say this is something fantastic, this is going to be something very, very important?"

Zion Ben-Rafael, MD: "In one way, we knew most of the people who were the speakers and we are neither, them nor myself, new to the field of forming congresses and so on. I ran the Congress of In Vitro Fertilization in Israel years ago, and almost 2,000 people were there and it was one of the first congresses. So we approach people and we give them the whole program and they know immediately that this program applies to them. The speakers themselves are sitting all day long in other rooms to hear what's going on in other sessions so they want to be there themselves. If the owner of a restaurant eats in a particular restaurant, it means that the food is good there. I myself sit in on every session that I can and I don't just stand around outside doing politics. I just go to the session and learn." 

Hugo Verhoeven, MD: "So what happened between the first meeting in Prague and the second meeting in Paris which was already a real big meeting?"

Zion Ben-Rafael, MD: "We just grew from one and a lot of people heard about us and there were people who came for the second time. Actually, we had the approval of many societies and companies who sponsored our session or endorsed our meeting, and we just went on and had more and better sessions and we changed the program."

Hugo Verhoeven, MD: "Let's talk about the future now. The meeting in Paris was just a few weeks ago, and we are now thinking about the meeting in Washington, D.C. For the first time you're going to leave Europe and you're coming to the United States. What are the prospects of what will probably be a very big Washington meeting?"

Zion Ben-Rafael, MD: "First of all, I hope it's going to be very big but it depends. We don't know the situation, today it's changed somewhat but we'll settle for a big meeting and not a very big meeting. As for the United States, actually we were planning to do this every three years in Europe and in two years it's going to be in Berlin. You know this very well, you're going to be there, and you'll be one of the chief people. Once we discussed it with Professor Rogerio Lobo and then with Alan DeCherney and the others, they said that's going to be a good meeting for American general ob-gyn's and also experts who want to expand and see what's happening in other fields. So when Rogerio said that, we said okay, take the challenge, you be the Chairman. So Rogerio Lobo is the Chairman of that Congress together with Zeev and me. We have Alan DeCherney as Head of the section on infertility, John Rock on gynecology, Mary D'Alton on perinatology, and Peter Schwartz on oncology. We got the best people in the country, and each one of them puts his or her input on the program itself, in the list of speakers, and so on. We are expecting any day to get the CME approved and the ACOG endorsement, and we hope that with that we can attract the attention of many American physicians who would come. I know international people would come as they have come to this meeting. Many of them do not have a fear of flying so I hope without the international we're going to get a lot of attendance from America itself because I think it's a very special meeting for the general ob-gyn who wants to get expanded in other fields and see what's happening in each one of these fields."

Hugo Verhoeven, MD: "Exactly, until now we just talked about doctors, but as in the past will be the one who's going to report for the patients so they also are informed about what's going to be discussed in Washington. Regarding information about registration, could you maybe give us some addresses or an e-mail address where doctors can register now for the Washington meeting?"

Zion Ben-Rafael, MD: " is covering this congress ever since Prague. From the very beginning they were small, we were small, and in theory they came up big and now in this Congress is going to do the online registration. You can just click our link on the home page and you'll get to our website which is but through you can get there easily. You can get the online registration and the whole program; everything is there including sending abstracts online so we are fully on the Internet through"

Hugo Verhoeven, MD: "Zion, I'm looking forward to my further cooperation with you."

Zion Ben-Rafael, MD: "Thank you."

Hugo Verhoeven, MD: "Thanks for the interview and I'll see you later."

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