AGA Council's Commitment to DEI
The AGA Institute Council is taking targeted steps to ensure diverse voices and opinions are represented in DDW programming.
AGA Institute Council: Addressing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The AGA Institute Council is committed to including diverse speakers and moderators in our programming at Digestive Disease Week® (DDW). The process of programming the AGA portion of DDW is complex, with an average of over 3,000 submitted research abstracts reviewed by more than 900 individuals. Of these total abstracts, 500 abstracts are presented in oral sessions and approximately 2,000 abstracts as posters. AGA programs over 200 lecture sessions, inviting 300 moderators and 400 speakers, all programmed across four days. This complexity offers us many opportunities to put into action our commitment to ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion in voices and opinions at all levels when carrying out these critical processes.
AGA Institute Council Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Subcommittee:
The council established a subcommittee to annually review and report on the council’s DEI statistics and initiatives. The subcommittee is made up of a representative from each of the 13 sections. Led by the subcommittee, the council prepared the following statements to provide clarity on how it addresses DEI in its programming processes. The statements below describe the deliberate criteria by which invited speakers and moderators are selected to achieve these goals, the blinded peer-review process during which scientific abstracts are scored by a diverse panel of reviewers and the criteria by which research symposia are created based on these scored abstracts.
- Selection of abstract review committees: Section leaders annually review and update each abstract review committee per descriptor (abstract subcategory). Review committee members who have served multiple years are rotated off to allow newer committee members to develop experience while still ensuring continual opportunity and participation by fresh voices and members. Committee rosters are scrutinized every year for representation based on experience, gender, race, ethnicity, as well as years in practice and this process guides the nomination of new committee members.
- Blinded peer-review of abstracts: Abstracts are reviewed and scored by the abstract review committee. Committee members are blinded to the abstract authors and their institutions. This process of blinding is critical to ensure that the best science is selected and blunts favoritism through preferential selection of abstracts from well-known groups. Communication to submitters specifically emphasizes that they should leave out any elements within the abstract that mention geography, grant number, or other information that may identify specific authors or medical centers.
- Programming abstract-driven sessions: Abstract-driven sessions are programmed based on recommendations of the abstract review committees, with their diverse experiences and perspectives, after their scoring of blinded abstracts. The authors of selected abstracts are responsible for the conduct and authorship of their studies. AGA is not involved in decisions about which authors are included on abstracts nor does AGA select who will present the research.
- Selection of moderators and invited speakers: The council, with assistance from section members, selects moderators and invited speakers. Lists of recommended speakers, moderators and replacements are scrutinized before invitations are sent to ensure a wide representation based on experience, gender, race, ethnicity, years in practice, as well as to maximize the number of members participating in the meeting.
- Highlighting disparities research:Descriptors (abstract subcategories) focusing on disparities research have been added to the AGA abstract submission process. These descriptors are used to program sessions highlighting the broad impact of socioeconomic, racial and other disparities across the spectrum of GI health, the impact of provider level disparities across the spectrum of GI health care delivery and education, and issues of equity and inclusion within GI.
Additionally, the council established the AGA Institute Council Health Care Disparities Research Award to recognize disparities research at DDW. First bestowed at DDW 2021, this award is given to the top oral and the top poster presenters. Abstracts for consideration are pulled based on related descriptors, along with a keyword search. The selection process also includes an author-blinded review by the council.