Join the only society where GI’s and Surgeons collaborate to personalize treatment and improve patient outcomes in foregut disease.


To help guide both the diagnosis and management of Foregut disease through collaboration between Gastroenterologists and Foregut Surgeons. To foster research that will culminate in the development of benchmarks for excellence while also establishing specialty specific training programs that will ultimately translate into the improved care, safety and value for patients with Foregut diseases.


To advocate personalized treatment strategies for patients with foregut disease through a collaborative partnership across disciplines.


The American Foregut Society was born out of many individuals’ dreams and passions to see a specialty thrive and flourish

Read "A Brief History of AFS"

Board & Committee Leaders

Board Members

Barham K. Abu Dayyeh, MD

Reginald Bell, MD

Tripp Buckley, MD

Ken Chang, MD

Kerry Dunbar, MD

Christy M Dunst, MD

C. Prakash Gyawali, MD

Peter Kahrilas, MD

Philip Katz, MD

John Lipham, MD

Dan Lister, MD

Ninh Nguyen, MD

Felice Schnoll-Sussman, MD, MSC

Michael S. Smith, MD, MBA

Stuart J. Spechler, MD

Lee Swanstrom, MD

Thomas J. Watson, MD, FACS

Executive Committee

Reginald Bell, MD
Chairman of the Board
Past President 2022–2023

Tripp Buckley, MD

Christy M. Dunst, MD

Peter Kahrilas, MD
Past President 2020–2022

John Lipham, MD
Chairman of the Board 2022–2023

Dan Lister, MD

Felice Schnoll-Sussman, MD, MSc

Michael S. Smith, MD, MBA

Committee Chairs

Raman Muthusamy – GI
Scott Roth – Surgeon
Dan Lister –  Board Liasion

Leena Khaitan – Surgeon
Carolyn Newberry – GI
Philip Katz – Board Liaison

Clinical Practice
John Clarke – GI
Shaun Daly – Surgeon
Ninh Nguyen – Surgeon, Board Liaison

Endoscopic Foregut Surgery
Chris Thompson – GI
Mike Ujiki – Surgeon
Barham Abu Dayyeh – Board Liasion

Fellowship Curriculum
Michael Awad – Surgeon
Christy M Dunst – Surgeon

Alejandro Nieponice – Surgeon
Caroline Saad – GI
Dan Lister – Liaison

Life Long Learning
Abraham Khan – GI
Roger Tatum – Surgeon
C Prakash Gyawali – Board Liaison

Peter Janu – Surgeon
Rita Knotts – GI
Tripp Buckley – Board Liaison

Michael S. Smith – GI
Reginald Bell – Surgeon

Jocelyn Burke – Surgeon
Reza Hejazi – GI
Reginald Bell – Board Liasion

Caitlin Houghton – Surgeon
Justin Henning – Surgeon
John Lipham – Board Liaison

Executive Director

Kate Freeman NP

Director of Operations

Rosaleen Tully

Managing Editor – FOREGUT Journal

Detra Davis

Barham K. Abu Dayyeh, MD

Dr. Abu Dayyeh is Professor of Medicine, Director of Advanced Endoscopy, Director of Metabolic and Bariatric Endoscopy, Consultant in Gastroenterology and Advanced Therapeutic Endoscopy, and Vice Chair of Innovation and Commercialization at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He is also the chair of the Bariatric and Metabolic Endoscopy Committee of the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders (IFSO) and co-chair of the Bariatric Committee of the American Foregut Society. His research focuses on development of minimally invasive endoscopic solutions for gastrointestinal diseases, obesity, and metabolic disease. Dr. Abu Dayyeh has multiple patents, and he is the founder of a ventures funded start-up company focusing on the endoscopic treatment of diabetes and metabolic disease.  Dr. Abu Dayyeh has published more than 250 peer reviewed articles, reviews, and book chapters in the field. His work has been highly cited with more than 5000 citations. He received multiple awards and grants in support of his research, including the Star of Science Award given by His Majesty King Abdulla II during the World Science Forum in the Dead-Sea, Jordan 2017.  Dr. Abu Dayyeh has been invited to give many national and international keynote lectures. He serves as a consultant and advisor to multiple leading US and International companies who are developing novel endoscopic therapeutics. 

Reginald C.W. Bell MD

Dr. Bell is a surgeon in Denver Colorado who specializes in foregut – esophageal and gastric – disorders. His primary clinical and research focus is the diagnosis and minimally invasive treatment of GERD and esophageal motility disorders Dr Bell earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia where he was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha honor society. He subsequently completed his general surgery training at the University of Colorado in 1990. Since then, in private practice, he has specialized in foregut disease and been a lead investigator in clinical trials involving minimally invasive treatment of GERD. In 2018 he was a founding member and is currently chairman of the board of the American Foregut Society, a collaborative effort between GI and Surgeons to further research and patient care in this arena.

Tripp Buckley, MD

Dr. Tripp Buckley is the Medical Director and primary surgeon in The Center for Heartburn & Esophageal Disorders at UT Health Austin. He attended Tulane University Medical School and then completed his residency in The DeBakey Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Dr. Buckley then served in the United States Air Force on active duty for four years at Nellis Air Force Base with tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He is one of only a few physicians to be awarded the USAF Air Medal.

After deployment, he returned to Texas and joined Scott & White, where he began to focus on anti-reflux and esophageal surgery. He established a unique multidisciplinary center to take care of patients suffering from reflux disease. It grew to be one the busiest centers in the country serving patients from all over Texas, throughout the country, and even internationally.

He now has joined UTHA to further improve upon the concept of an integrated, patient focused care center known as The Center for Heartburn & Esophageal Disorders. The program partners with other specialties (GI, Pulmonary, ENT, and Radiology) in order to provide a multidisciplinary approach to treating patients and then keeping them well.

Dr. Buckley is heavily involved in clinical research with numerous peer reviewed publications, national presentations, current trials. He is committed to training both the next generation as well as practicing surgeons in cutting-edge surgical techniques. Over 200 surgeons have either observed him operate or have had Dr. Buckley serve as their proctor/mentor.

Kenneth J. Chang, MD

Dr. Chang’s clinical research focuses on development of endoscopic modalities for cancer diagnosis, staging and therapy. He has pioneered the development of Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS)-guided FNA, and subsequently, EUS-guided FNI (fine needle injection) and has written more than 300 publications and book chapters regarding its utility in GI malignancies. He has conducted numerous clinical trials on the development of new biologic agents against esophageal and pancreatic cancers.

His clinical expertise in pancreatico-biliary endoscopy includes EUS, EUS-guided FNA and FNB, EUS-guided Intervention (celiac ganglion neurolysis, choledochoduodenostomy, EUS-guided liver biopsy and portal pressure measurement, etc), and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). For esophageal and gastric interventions, his expertise includes endoscopic treatment of gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD), as well as endoscopic mucosal resection, laser-induced endomicroscopy, radiofrequency and cryo ablation therapy for Barrett’s and esophageal cancer. He is also considered the West Coast expert in Per-oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM), endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) and endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) for obesity.

Christy M. Dunst, MD

Dr. Dunst graduated from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver Colorado. After general surgery residency at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Dr. Dunst completed a fellowship in Thoracic Foregut and Esophageal Surgery at the University of Southern California under Dr.Tom DeMeester. She then joined Dr. Lee Swanstrom in Portland with the multispecialty group, The Oregon Clinic. She currently serves as the Executive Director of The Foundation for Surgical Innovation and Education (, a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of surgery through education and invention. Dr Dunst is the Program Director for the Advanced GI-Foregut surgical fellowship at Providence Portland Medical Center and serves on the board of the American Society of General Surgeons. She is an active member of several organizations, including the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons, the American College of Surgeons, and the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract.

Kerry Dunbar, MD

Dr. Kerry Dunbar is the Gastroenterology Section Chief for the VA North Texas Healthcare System and an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. She is also an Associate Program Director for the UT Southwestern Internal Medicine residency training program and is a Fellow of the American Gastroenterological Association and of the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.  

Dr. Dunbar graduated from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and completed internal medicine residency and gastroenterology and hepatology fellowship at Johns Hopkins. During fellowship, she completed an Assistant Chief of Service year and pursued research training through the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Graduate Training Program in Clinical Investigation, for which she received a Ph.D. in 2012.

Dr. Dunbar’s clinical and research interests include gastroesophageal reflux disease, Barrett’s esophagus, esophageal cancer, esophageal motility disorders, and endoscopic imaging.  She is the GI Senior Associate Editor for the AFS journal Foregut.

Kate Freeman, NP

Kate has been a Nurse Practitioner for 20 years. She has worked the last 15 with Dr Reginald Bell at the Institute of Esophageal and Reflux Surgery. She sees patients, assists in surgery and is Director of the Motility lab. She has been involved with the American Foregut Society from the beginning, helping solidify the society in 2018. Given her passion to help those with foregut ailments, and for the society, she accepted a position as Executive Director in early 2019. She hopes to continue to bring clinical expertise and combine it with the dedicated leadership a new society needs to thrive. When not working, she loves cycling, hiking, photography, and anything outdoors.

C. Prakash Gyawali, MD

Dr. Prakash Gyawali is currently a Professor of Medicine, Director of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, and Program Director of Gastroenterology Fellowship Training at the Division of Gastroenterology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, USA. Dr. Gyawali’s academic interests include esophageal motility, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and functional disorders. He directs gastrointestinal motility centers affiliated with Washington University, and is involved in motility testing using high resolution manometry, esophageal ambulatory esophageal pH and impedance monitoring, wireless pH monitoring and endoscopic functional lumen imaging probe (FLIP). He is actively involved in clinical research involving neurogastroenterology and motility, and has published over 250 original articles, invited reviews and book chapters.

Peter James Kahrilas, MD

Peter J Kahrilas is the Gilbert H. Marquardt Professor in Medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago where he has worked since 1986, serving as Division Chief for 7 years. Dr Kahrilas’ research is on esophageal pathophysiology, a topic on which he has published more than 400 original papers. Dr Kahrilas is currently on the editorial boards of Gastroenterology and the American Journal of Physiology. He has served on the AGA council, AGA governing board, and as president of the ISDE. He was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) in 1998 and the Association of American Physicians (AAP) in 2015.

Philip Katz, MD

Philip O. Katz, M.D. joined the faculty at Weill Cornell in March 2017.  He is Professor of Medicine and Director of the GI Function Laboratories in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. He is currently the Course Director of the Area of Concentration Program in the School of Medicine. 

Dr. Katz received his medical degree from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  He served his residency and chief residency in internal medicine, followed by a fellowship in gastroenterology at the Bowman Gray School of Medicine.  He completed a faculty development fellowship at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.  He is board certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology.

Dr. Katz is a Past President of the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) (2009-2010) and is a member of the American Gastroenterological Association and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.  He was the founding editor of the American College of Gastroenterology Universe, the online learning portal of that organization.  He is the co-editor of Foregut, the journal of the American Foregut Society.

He was awarded the J Stanley Cohen Award for research excellence by Einstein Medical Center (Philadelphia) in 2012 and Berk-Fise Clinical Achievement Award by the ACG in 2014.

A recognized national authority on esophageal disease, Dr. Katz’s research interests include all aspects of gastroesophageal reflux disease, including nocturnal recovery of gastric acid secretion during proton pump inhibitor therapy and esophageal pain perception.    He has contributed to the publication of over 200 peer-reviewed papers, as well as numerous abstracts, books, book chapters, and monographs.

John C. Lipham, MD

John C. Lipham, M.D. is Chief of the Division of Upper GI and General Surgery and Professor of Surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Dr Lipham is also the Director of the USC Digestive Health Center. He serves as the Foregut Cancer Program Director and Chief of USC Affiliated Academic Programs at Hoag Hospital and is the James & Pamela Muzzy Endowed Chair in GI Cancer. He focuses on benign and malignant diseases of the esophagus and stomach. His clinical interests include the diagnosis and treatment of GERD, hiatal hernias, Barrett’s esophagus, esophageal motility disorders, achalasia, malignant diseases of the esophagus and stomach. His current research interests include developing minimally invasive methods of diagnosing and treating gastroesophageal reflux disease, Barrett’s, esophageal cancer and gastric cancer.

Dan Lister, MD

Dr. Lister earned his undergraduate degree at Hendrix College in Conway, AR. He earned his medical degree at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, AR and completed his residency at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. He is board certified in General Surgery. Dr. Lister is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He is one of the co-founders of the American Foregut Society and serves as Treasurer of that organization. He is on the Board of Directors of the American Society of General Surgeons and is a member of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons. He serves as the Chief of Surgery at Baptist Health Medical Center in Heber Springs, AR and is on staff at Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock, AR.

Ninh Nguyen, MD

Dr. Nguyen is the John E Connolly Professor and Chair for the department of Surgery at the University of California Irvine Medical Center, Orange, California. He is also the Chief of the Division of Gastrointestinal Surgery and Director of bariatric surgery. 

Dr. Nguyen is an internationally recognized surgeon respected for his work in the development of minimally invasive esophagectomy and gastrectomy procedures for cancer and laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery for the treatment of morbid obesity. As a pioneer in the field of bariatric surgery, Dr. Nguyen plays an instrumental role in the development of the current accreditation system for bariatric surgery in the United States – the MBSAQIP. He participates in many regional and national society leadership roles, including past president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and past president of the Southern California chapter of the American College of Surgeons.

Dr. Nguyen is the editor-in-chief for the ASMBS Textbook of Bariatric Surgery and have served  on the American Board of Surgery Gastrointestinal Surgery Advisory Council. He also serves on the editorial board for multiple high-impact surgical journals, including the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, Surgery for Obesity and Related Disorders and Annals of Surgery. He has been the principal investigator on numerous research grants and has published more than 300 peer-reviewed articles, book and book chapters. Dr. Nguyen is a member of the American Surgical Association. A well-respected educator, he has served as the director of the minimally invasive surgery fellowship program for the past 17 years.

Dr. Nguyen received his medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He completed his general surgery residency training at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, followed by fellowships in surgical oncology and minimally invasive surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. 

Felice Schnoll-Sussman, MD, MSc

Dr. Felice Schnoll-Sussman is a Professor of Clinical Medicine in the division of Gastroenterology at Weill Cornell Medicine and the current President of the American Foregut society. She is the Director of the Jay Monahan Center (JMC) for Gastrointestinal Health, Associate Chief of Medicine for Network and Outreach Development at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist and the Director of Outreach for the Weill Cornell Department of Medicine.  Dr. Schnoll-Sussman’s main clinical and research focus is in the treatment of patients with esophageal and swallowing disorders including gastroesophageal reflux disease, Barrett’s esophagus, eosinophilic esophagitis, achalasia and esophageal cancer. She founded the  DIGEST (Dedicated Integrated GastroESophageal Treatment) unit at Weill Cornell/NYP which offers a novel approach to the multidisciplinary care of this complex patient population. Dr. Schnoll-Sussman formerly served as the Director of Endoscopy at Weill Cornell, Governor for the American College of Gastroenterology, Co-Director of the New York City Colon Cancer Control Coalition, and the President of the New York Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.  Dr. Schnoll-Sussman is a staunch advocate for esophageal, colon, and pancreas cancer awareness.

Michael S. Smith, MD, MBA

Dr. Smith is the Chief of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Director of the Esophageal Program and Director of the Motility Center at Mount Sinai West and Mount Sinai Morningside Hospitals in New York City. He also is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. First at Temple University in Philadelphia and now at Mount Sinai, he has built a clinical practice focusing on the diagnosis and management of esophageal disorders, from GERD and motility to Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer. His research has focused on evaluating how new technologies are best incorporated into everyday treatment of diseases of the esophagus.

Stuart Jon Spechler, MD

Stuart Jon Spechler, M.D. has been Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Co-Director of the Center for Esophageal Diseases at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, and Co-Director of the Center for Esophageal Research at the Baylor Scott & White Research Institute since January 2017.  From July 1997 to December 2017, Dr. Spechler was the Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology for the VA North Texas Healthcare System, Professor of Medicine, and holder of the Berta M. and Cecil O. Patterson Chair in Gastroenterology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.  He also had been the Director of the Center for Swallowing Disorders at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts from July 1990 to June 1997. 

Dr. Spechler’s research has focused primarily on disorders of the esophagus, especially GERD, Barrett’s esophagus, eosinophilic esophagitis, and esophageal motility disorders. He has chaired three VA Cooperative Studies on medical and surgical treatments for gastroesophageal reflux disease, and published the results of those studies in JAMA and in the New England Journal of Medicine.  He described the condition known as “short-segment Barrett’s esophagus” in 1994.  He has made important contributions to understanding the complex relationship between GERD and eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), and was the first to propose the notion that a clinical response to PPIs neither rules in GERD nor rules out eosinophilic esophagitis.  He also was the first to propose that achalasia and other esophageal motility disorders might have an allergic etiology, and that eosinophilic esophagitis might have mucosal-predominant and muscle-predominant forms. 

Dr. Spechler has published more than 400 scientific reports, editorials, review articles, and book chapters on esophageal disorders. He is best known for his work in the areas of GERD, Barrett’s esophagus, eosinophilic esophagitis, and esophageal motility disorders.  He has served on the editorial boards of numerous journals including Gastroenterology, Gut, Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Nature Reviews in Gastroenterology, Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, Digestive Diseases and Sciences, Diseases of the Esophagus, and Foregut. 

Lee L. Swanstrom, MD

Dr. Lee Swanstrom is the Scientific Director and Chief Innovations Officer of the Institutes des Hôpitaux Universitaires (IHU) of the University of Strasbourg, France. He is Professor of Surgery at Oregon Health and Science University, a current Director of the American Board of Surgery and is Past President of the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES), the Fellowship Council (FC) and is a founder and Board Member of the American Foregut Society. His clinical practice is primarily surgical endoscopy and minimally invasive foregut surgery.

Dr. Swanstrom received his MD degree from Creighton University following undergraduate work at the University of Paris (Sorbonne) and University of Colorado. He completed an internship and residency in general surgery in Portland and a fellowship in surgical endoscopy and GI surgery at the University of Western Ontario.

Dr. Swanstrom’s clinical focus is on minimally invasive treatments of a variety of esophageal and gastrointestinal disorders, particularly utilizing laparoscopy and interventional flexible endoscopy. He is a well-known educator and researcher with over 350 scientific papers, 80 book chapters and is the editor of 3 major surgical textbooks and the journal Surgical Innovation. His research focus is in foregut physiology, human factors and technology assessment and new procedure development.

Thomas J. Watson, MD, FACS

Thomas J Watson, MD, FACS is the System Chief of Thoracic Surgery for Corewell Health East (previously Beaumont Health) in the suburban Detroit region. Dr. Watson earned his Bachelor of Science from Stanford University followed by his MD degree from the School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC) in 1988. He went on to complete residency training in Surgery and Cardiothoracic Surgery, as well as a fellowship dedicated to Esophageal Surgery under Dr. Tom DeMeester, all at USC. He took his first faculty position at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in Rochester, New York in 1996. He remained there for nearly 20 years, ascending the academic ranks to become a Professor of Surgery and the Chief of Thoracic Surgery. He also served as Program Director for the Surgery Residency and Associate Program Director for the Cardiothoracic Surgery Residency at that institution. In 2016, he was recruited by MedStar Health in Washington, D.C. and Maryland to be the Chair of Surgery and Chief of Thoracic Surgery for their 10-hospital system, as well as the Chair of Surgery at the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and Professor of Surgery at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. Following a national search, Dr. Watson joined Corewell Health in 2021.

Dr. Watson has received numerous awards and recognitions. He was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society during his undergraduate years at Stanford, and the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society while at USC. He was the Valedictorian of his medical school class as well as both the student body and senior class President. He has been recognized multiple times in Castle Connolly’s “America’s Top Doctors” and “America’s Top Doctors for Cancer.” He has published over 125 peer-reviewed articles and more than 30 book chapters on all aspects of thoracic and foregut disease, and continues to speak extensively at regional, national, and international meetings on the full spectrum of thoracic surgical topics.

AFS Past Presidents

Reginald Bell, MD


Peter Kahrilas, MD


John Lipham, MD