Virginia Gastroenterological Society

Member Login


The Virginia Gastroenterological Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the awareness of gastrointestinal disorders through the education of clinicians in the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond. In conjunction with the Old Dominion Society of Gastrointestinal Nurses and Associates and the American College of Gastroenterology, we host an Annual Postgraduate Course in gastroenterology that attracts world-renowned speakers and attendees from across the nation.

History of the VGS

The Virginia Gastroenterological Society was formed in 1966 when a small group of doctors interested in the relatively new field of gastroenterology decided to form an organization that would foster collegiality and facilitate sharing of interesting cases. Dr. Alvin Zfass from MCV and the late Dr. James Respess from UVa spearheaded the group that included Drs. John Farrar, Charles Caravati, David Stone, and Ed Wilson. Drs. Wilson and Stone were originally ER physicians at UVa who expressed interest in the field and ultimately became leaders in clinical gastroenterology. Physicians specializing in other fields were recruited to the Society, including pathologists, radiologists, and gastrointestinal surgeons. Vascular surgeon Dr. Yale Zimberg was a frequent attendee at annual meetings.

Dues were $15 annually and were collected to cover the cost of a visiting lecturer. They agreed to meet annually, usually at the Greenbrier Hotel or the Homestead. Members would typically bring their wives and meet from midday to 5pm on Saturday followed by an evening of socialization. Sunday morning would be spent in learning sessions followed by spirited games of golf, tennis, and other activities. Once G.I. fellowship programs were developed at UVa and MCV, one or two fellows from each institution would be invited to attend and present cases. Early guest lecturers included Dr. Gene Overholt and Dr. Peter Cotton, who was recruited from Middlesex Hospital and Medical School (London) to Duke University shortly after his visit to Virginia.

The relationship between the American College of Gastroenterology and the VGS was fostered early on by Dr. Zfass, who served as ACG Governor of Virginia for six years. Dr. David Graham, then President of a growing ACG, asked Dr. Zfass to recruit 10 new members to the ACG from Virginia and encouraged the development of a regional meeting. The ACG/VGS/ODSGNA combined meeting began in 1998 with the leadership of Drs. David Johnson, Anita Wolke, and Mark Lawson. This meeting has grown each year since and is now among the largest and most highly-regarded regional postgraduate courses in gastroenterology in the nation.

Based on an interview with Dr. Alvin M. Zfass, September 7, 2007  Williamsburg, VA



Board Members At-Large
Kenneth A. Adams, MD Williamsburg
Ralph M. Wisniewski II, MD Lynchburg
Pramod R. Malik, MD Suffolk
Daniel J. Pambianco, MD Charlottesville
Jan A. Janson, MD Virginia Beach
Joseph S. Spataro, MD 
Savita Srivastava, MD Fishersville
Vivek Kesar, MD Roanoke
Andrew Wang, MD Charlottesville

Executive Director
David H. Balaban, MD Charlottesville

Neeral L. Shah, MD Charlottesville  Virginia ACG Governor