Gianluca PellinoGianluca Pellino is ESCP's Chair of the Y-ESCP. He is Consultant Colorectal Surgeon and Senior Clinical Lecturer in General Surgery at the Università degli Studi della Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli", Naples, Italy; advanced formation and research University Hospital Vall d’Hebron, Barcelona.

Name: Gianluca Pellino

Current position and hospital: Università degli Studi della Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli", Naples, Italy; advanced formation and research University Hospital Vall d’Hebron, Barcelona

ESCP Executive position: Y-ESCP Chair

Main clinical and research interests: Inflammatory bowel diseases, colorectal cancer, pelvic exenteration, transanal minimally invasive colorectal surgery (TAMIS), robotic surgery and applied colorectal anatomy

What made you want to specialise in colorectal surgery?

My interest in colorectal surgery flourished during the surgical training program, but I was already fascinated by colorectal diseases at medical school.

Surgery means having a complex life; difficult decisions, oncalls, emergencies... but few other specialisations offer the opportunity of witnessing the actual resolution of a problem for a patient. So I always felt this was what I wanted to do.

Why colorectal surgery?

Inflammatory bowel diseases were probably the driver of my decision for the sub-specialisation. The extreme complexity underlying the condition, really required an holistic approach, taking into consideration the patient as a person, along with his/her life experiences, concerns, and problems. Listening to patients, trying to understand their feelings throughout their life with a chronic condition (for which as a surgeon I could do something, though) really added a plus to the concept of surgeons being technically skilled operators only.

These conditions opened my views to know an approach based on a special way of listening, the Narrative-Based Medicine, which, used in conjunction with Evidence-Based Medicine, represented a more humanised and personalised way of delivering surgical care. I gradually became aware that such an approach was beneficial for most or all colorectal diseases and coloproctological conditions. The multidisciplinary dimension of colorectal conditions requires interaction with colleagues from many specializations. further adding to the beauty of this job and contributing to being used to thinking outside of the box.

Last but not the least, colorectal surgeons are the coolest when it comes to interacting and partying!

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

I have been a member of the Society since 2014, when I was a 4th year trainee in General Surgery; my mentor in Napoli, Professor Francesco Selvaggi, has always been motivating me to nurture my scientific curiosity; ESCP represented the ideal platform for that. I decided to become a member after attending an Annual Conference of the ESCP, where I presented a poster, following the interesting exchanges and interactions that I experienced. I was attracted by the many resources that the society offered to members, at reduced fees for trainees. I saw many opportunities for young surgeons and researchers to actively contribute to the ESCP, also participating in the several committees and initiatives.

What attracted me the most, was the fellowship opportunities and the pre-congress placement bursary, for which I successfully applied for the Belgrade ESCP Conference. Actually, it was during an advanced course hosted by another society that I became aware of training opportunities for members provided by the ESCP, when discussing a potential fellowship with Professor Tekkis in London. Christos Kontovounisios, working with Professor Tekkis in London, suggested applying as ESCP fellow to attend their hospital. It was what I did; and I was lucky enough to obtain the first 6-month fellowship of the ESCP at the Annual Conference in Dublin (2015).

Another fascinating aspect of ESCP was the opportunity of knowing peers from European and extra-EU countries; in fact, Y-ESCP is more like a group of friends than just colleagues.

Over time, I had the opportunity of joining several committees and activities of the ESCP; which motivated me to become more and more involved with the Society.

What do you value most about being involved in ESCP?

The resource library, access to the conference at reduced fee, and the fellowship/training opportunities are among the most valuable benefits of joining ESCP. The learning offer has been enriched by the recent launch of the European School of Coloproctology, and with many courses hosted and organised by the ESCP, all with excellent hands-on experience under the supervision of high-level trainers and mentors, and with tailored approaches to each individual participant. This has been crucial at a time when COVID restrictions seriously affected and threatened training globally.

Then, the incredibly vivid social interactions that members can experience at courses and conferences of the ESCP. These experiences are an integral part of the events, strengthening the spirit of friendship among colleagues, and facilitating discussions and exchanges in a relaxing environment.

ESCP promotes international research collaborations and endorses the activity of several research groups (e.g. COVIDSurg, GlobalSurg), The Society has hosted the meetings of EuroSurg Collaborative since the foundation of the group, and still supports students and trainees to pursue an academic career. The ESCP is hence caring for the future of colorectal surgery.

Lastly, being part of ESCP allows you to talk without filters to senior scientists, mentors and executive members freely: everyone can be easily reached by members, and will listen to any proposal.

It has recently become apparent that the ESCP has gone well beyond the geographical boundaries of EU: being part of the ESCP means to be connected with the global colorectal community - widening one's own horizons.

The intense activity of the communication committee and of the SoMe profiles of the ESCP reflects the dynamic nature of a Society that is able to keep the pace of the rapidly evolving times that we are living, offering their members always up-to-date content and experiences. Being involved with ESCP means to be sure that you are never left behind.

Could you tell us about your best ESCP anecdote?

2018 Annual Conference of the ESCP, main hall session in the afternoon (Educational: Coloproctology 3.0: The Cutting Edge of Online Innovation), chaired by Richard Brady. I had the honour of sharing the stage with eminent innovators in SoMe and global research (Sam Atallah, Manish Chand, Steven Wexner) and Michael Seres, the 'e-patient' inventor of the Alfred SmartBag. The session was scheduled at 17.00 until 18.30.

I had the first talk after Richard's introduction; however, just half an hour later, I was also due to present two oral posters, in another, concomitant session (and I was the only author who could present). The panel members were so kind to let me sneak away from the stage after giving my talk, to go to the room where posters were being presented; I was then the allowed by the chairs of the poster session (Nicola Fearnhead and Samson Tou) to present my two posters there, and take the questions; then I tiptoed again to my sit on the stage in the main hall, to take the Q&A of the Educational Coloproctology 3.0 session.

Unfortunately this is not captured in the recording from the session on the resource library - but those who were there will remember the strange Italian leaving the stage during the session, just to reappear 20 minutes later....

I remembered this fact - with a laugh - when I attended Prof Wexner's Unit at Cleveland Clinic Florida with the ASCRS Career Development Scholarship 2019. Also, I like this anecdote because it allows me to remember Michael, who sadly passed away in 2020. It takes me back to that afternoon in which I enjoyed his inspirational charisma.

If you had one bit of advice for younger surgeons starting their career in colorectal surgery, what would it be?

Enjoy the journey.

Colorectal surgery is a fascinating specialty which requires time and devotion to be mastered - this is what I am experiencing. Don't take anything for granted. Be curious. Ask. Don't be isolated: seek help and work in a team. Do not rush to be a 'consultant'; take the best out of your training, being a trainee has its great advantages. Travel, connect, engage.

Enjoy the journey.

ESCP Affiliates