Willem BemelmanProfessor Dr Willem Bemelman is ESCP's President in Waiting, Consultant in colorectal and minimal invasive surgery, and Lead of the colorectal group at the Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam.


Current position and hospital: Consultant in colorectal and minimal invasive surgery and lead of the colorectal group at the Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam

ESCP Executive role: President in Waiting

Main clinical and research interests: IBD, rectal cancer and complication surgery


What made you want to specialise in colorectal surgery?

My PhD was actually on esophageal surgery. During my training I was exposed to a lot of IBD and colorectal surgery which guided my surgical career in that direction. My first appointment as a consultant in Leiden was chair of benign gastrointestinal surgery which included a lot of IBD. This was a great opportunity to develop my laparoscopic skills, since at that time, laparoscopic surgery for cancer was still thought to be too risky. When I was appointed to the AMC in Amsterdam four years later, my task was the further implementation of laparoscopic surgery including in colorectal surgery. Apart from enjoying the colorectal subspecialty, it has proved a career opportunity.

What is the best part of the job?

Definitely operating, being in theatre.

How long have you been involved in ESCP and what made you want to become involved?

In the Netherlands we do not have a formal colorectal society. For a number of years we have had a coloproctology working group. So, since the beginning of taking up colorectal surgery, I wanted to be involved in ESCP to contribute to the discussion, education and progression of colorectal surgery in Europe. This started with being a national representative.

What do you value most about being involved in ESCP?

Friendship, quality and reliability.

What would your one bit of advice for younger surgeons starting their career in colorectal surgery be?

Observerships - see what and how different European surgeons do and use their knowledge to safely implement the learned techniques.

ESCP Affiliates