David L. Diehl, MD, FASGE

Distinguished Endoscopic Research Mentoring Award

Crystal Awards Honoree

David Diehl was born in Los Angeles, California (Hollywood, actually!) and was a product of the UCLA system (undergraduate, medical school, residency). His clinical gastroenterology training was split between UC San Francisco and UCLA. David was an attending in the UCLA faculty, and Director of Endoscopy at both Olive View-UCLA Medical Center and Sepulveda VA Medical Center. As co-director of the Center for Functional Bowel Disease and Abdominal Pain at UCLA under the direction of Dr. Emeran Mayer, he became interested in applications of Chinese Medicine, particularly acupuncture, for treatment of these difficult conditions. David actively used acupuncture and other complementary medical treatments for functional bowel disorders for several years at UCLA. 

After a short stint of private practice in Orange County California, he relocated to New York City, and was Director of Endoscopy at Bellevue Medical Center and Clinical Associate Professor at NYU Medical Center. To this day, he feels honored to have worked at Bellevue, the oldest public hospital in the United States (in continuous operation since 1736). Dr. Diehl built out the advanced endoscopy services at Bellevue, introducing endoscopic ultrasound for the first time to Bellevue and the Manhattan VA Medical Center. He was honored in 2006 with the Golden Apple Award for being an outstanding teacher at the NYU School of Medicine.

After a very rewarding 7 years in New York City, he started working at Geisinger Medical Center in 2007, and have been able to build an interventional endoscopy service that has expanded greatly in the 14 years he has been here. Dr. Diehl has been the director of the advanced endoscopy fellowship since 2008 and had the honor to be involved in the training of so many talented and gifted young endoscopists over the years.

Rural Pennsylvania and working at Geisinger has been a fertile ground for his career and raising a family. He even had some time to learn how to pilot a small aircraft (a Cessna 172) and have a deep admiration for people that have become private pilots. Flying solo at night was one of the pinnacles of his short aviation career! There are some definite similarities between flying a plane and doing advanced endoscopic procedures.

I felt gratitude and astonishment when Klaus Mergener informed me that I was the recipient of the 2021 ASGE Distinguished Endoscopic Research Mentoring Award. This significant honor is truly a career highlight, and immediately made me think of those mentors that had been so influential during my training and career in Gastroenterology. 

First were Dr. Art Schwabe and Dean Sherman Mellinkoff at UCLA School of Medicine who first introduced me to the field of Gastroenterology and demonstrated by example how to always treat patients with courtesy and respect. 

I am grateful to Dr. John Cello at UCSF for being my first endoscopy mentor and who instilled in me a love for endoscopy in general and ERCP in particular. Thanks also to Dr. Jim Ostroff and Dr. Jim Grendell for their patience and insightful instruction. The late Dr. John Walsh at CURE-UCLA did what he could to turn me into a basic researcher, but I must confess that ERCP lured me away from the lab.

Next, I was honored to be a colleague and partner of Dr. Ron Koretz at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center.  Ron was on the bleeding edge of evidence-based medicine before it was even a “thing”. Ron’s high ethical standards in medicine and research and even personal behavior influenced me greatly. Dr. Dick Kozarek was my gold standard for how to combine outstanding endoscopy (ERCP in particular) with clinical research, and I learned so many ERCP pearls during my frequent trips up to Seattle to watch him do ERCPs and answer a million of my questions. It was from Dick that I learned that the basis for clinical research is in what you do every day in the endoscopy suite and clinic. At UCLA, Dr. Priya Jamidar was a supportive colleague and ERCP mentor. 

After I moved to New York, I found a mentor and colleague in Dr. Pete Stevens, whose endoscopy unit I would visit frequently to learn and hang out with Pete and Dr. Stavros Stavropoulos. Pete was a gifted advanced endoscopy teacher, particularly for endoscopic ultrasound.

After moving to Geisinger Medical Center, Dr. Mike Komar was an everlasting source of professional support, and he provided the horsepower that supported the creation of the advanced endoscopy fellowship. Mike convinced the Geisinger administration to provide any and all equipment that I needed to make this effort succeed. 

I have always felt that teaching is one of my most important personal missions and I have been fortunate to work with outstanding medical students, residents and fellows at UCLA, NYU and now Geisinger.  I have very fond memories of working with so many motivated students and GI trainees over the years who bring their focus and energy to the development of their career and collaborated on clinical research projects with me.

I gratefully accept this award and thank the mentors and trainees with whom I have been fortunate to work, and who have made success in my career possible.