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Message from the President: May 27, 2019

Monday, May 27, 2019  
Posted by: DRS

Message from the President:

Dear members and friends of the DRS,

As your new president, I am happy to welcome you to our Society. DRS has been in existence since 1991, growing and evolving all this time. We now have over 550 members representing more than 24 countries from around the world. We are truly an international organization (approximately 23% of our membership is international).


You might assume that our only purpose is to encourage and disseminate research, and this is, indeed, an important goal. At our annual meeting, we have over 50 scientific presentations; each one followed by heated discussion. We also have about 100 posters that are viewed throughout the meeting and stimulate more discussion. In the early years of DRS, we presented 6 awards at our annual meeting, but as more donors have created more awards, we are now able to give over 20 awards at each meeting to the most scientifically rigorous and innovative presentations and posters in over 10 categories. We have basic science presentations that reflect new discoveries, we have investigations of animal models of swallowing, and we have clinical research that announces the results of clinical trials and new assessment tools and treatments for persons with dysphagia.


With that said, our bylaws also state that we will attract and encourage new investigators and foster their development in a collegial and supportive environment. This latter goal has become increasingly important to the DRS. We now have awards for New Investigators, we have a Student Advisory committee and an Early Investigator Sub-committee. At our annual meeting, we have several programs and events aimed at mentoring our next generation of investigators.


Related to this goal is the notable trend for dysphagia research and clinical care of persons with dysphagia to become a global phenomenon. Nearly every country in the world is now aware of dysphagia and many are forming networks and formal groups to share knowledge, techniques, and outcomes of interventions. In 1996, just 5 years after DRS was formed, the Japanese Society of Dysphagia Rehabilitation was created. In 2011, the European Society for Swallowing Disorders, formerly the European Study Group of Dysphagia and Globus, held it first congress. We three societies have a close collaborative relationship and we recognize the journal, Dysphagia, as the official journal for all 3 groups. In the near future, I anticipate there will be more formal groups to emerge, either representing a country or a continent. In 2020, a World Summit will be held in Japan, bringing all 3 societies together to address critical aspects of our field. DRS will continue to welcome, foster, and share research with our global community.


One identifying mark of these societies is the interdisciplinary nature of its membership. Patients with dysphagia cannot be managed by any single discipline. This is another important purpose of DRS – to provide a multidisciplinary forum for presentation of research – and to foster new collaborations and different perspectives brought to the table from different disciplines. We all need to encourage members of other disciplines to attend and participate in our organization so that we can learn from each other.


So, with that, I assume the duties of the President of this venerable society. In the coming year, I hope to continue the growth and to expand the breadth of DRS. Dr Jadcherla, our past president of DRS, will be chairing a Strategic Planning meeting in July to brainstorm the future of DRS. I am sure this will lead to new initiatives which we will share with you. My year will culminate in our annual meeting from March 17 to 20, 2020, to be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at the Caribe Hilton hotel. I visited the site and can report that it is beautiful! It underwent a major renovation after the devastating hurricane in 2017. The hotel is located near old San Juan and offers swimming pools, beaches, and piña coladas for daily relaxation. We will end the conference on Friday, March 20, at noon, allowing you to explore more of Puerto Rico over the weekend, if your time allows. In future newsletters I will ask our local organizing committee, led by Luis Riquelme, to share more about the history and culture of this great Caribbean island and US Territory. If you would like more information on the meeting, please visit the DRS website by and complete the interest form.



Susan Langmore, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-S

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