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SEATTLE - (Jan. 13, 2010) — Richard Kozarek, MD, executive director of the Digestive Disease Institute at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, was named president of the World Gastroenterology Organisation. He is only the second president from the United States in the organization's 51-year history. Henry Bockus, MD, the inaugural president, was the first from the United States.

Kozarek completed his gastroenterology fellowship at the Phoenix Veterans Administration Medical Center, University of Arizona, Phoenix and Tucson, in 1978. He has been a member of the Section of Gastroenterology at Virginia Mason Medical Center since 1983, serving as Chief of GI for 15 years. Kozarek is also a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Washington.

In a career spanning 30 years, Kozarek has written more than 400 scientific papers, invited reviews, book chapters and editorials, and contributed seven books to medical literature on topics ranging from therapeutic endoscopy, inflammatory bowel diseases and practice economics. He is a past president of the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) and also the 2005 recipient of the ASGE's highest honor, the Schindler Award.

"Digestive disorders continue to be the single greatest cause of cancer deaths and a significant burden on health care budgets the world over," said Kozarek. "I am pleased to be the president of WGO and look forward to furthering our efforts to build awareness of the worldwide prevalence and optimal care of digestive disorders."

About the WGO
The World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) is a federation of 109 national societies and four regional associations of gastroenterology representing over 50,000 individual members worldwide. Formed in 1935 and incorporated in 1958, WGO was originally known as Organisation Mondiale de Gastroénterologie (OMGE) and renamed in 2006.

About Virginia Mason Medical Center
Virginia Mason Medical Center, founded in 1920, is a non-profit comprehensive regional health-care system in Seattle that combines a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 440 physicians with a 336-bed acute-care hospital. Virginia Mason operates a network of clinics throughout the Puget Sound area; manages Bailey-Boushay House, a nursing residence and Chronic Care Management program for people living with HIV and AIDS; and operates Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, internationally recognized in autoimmune disease research. Virginia Mason is known for applying manufacturing principles to health care to improve quality and patient safety.

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