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Colin Howden graduated from medical school at the University of Glasgow in 1978. He then did postgraduate training in Gastroenterology and Clinical Pharmacology in Glasgow. The latter component was in the Department of Materia Medica (later "Medicine and Therapeutics") headed by Professor John Reid. He was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time on two occasions in his career. He had an early opportunity of working with omeprazole while it was still in development since he was the token "non-Hypertension" trainee in Clinical Pharmacology at that time. He later wrote his MD thesis on the clinical pharmacology of omeprazole. While en route to his first DDW in 1984, he had a chance introduction to Professor Richard Hunt (in an airport, strangely enough). He later completed a fellowship at McMaster University in Richard's department and has maintained a close collaboration ever since. In 1991, he moved to the US and worked initially at the University of South Carolina. Since 1999 he has been based at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago. After almost 10 years some of the differences in clinical practice and educational methods between the US and the UK continue to puzzle and interest him.
- What made you decide to become a gastroenterologist/hepatologist?
- I was initially going to be a nephrologist but didn't get the appointment I wanted immediately after house jobs. Sir Thomas J Thomson, ex-President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, inspired me to take up gastroenterology. Many advised otherwise; there were few career opportunities in the specialty at that time.
- Who was the teacher you admired the most?
- I would have to cite three - and only one is a gastroenterologist. They are Sir Thomas J Thomson, Dr John A Thomson and Professor John L Reid.
- Which research paper influenced you the most?
- I was interested in the papers from the group of Richard Hunt, George Misiewicz and Roy Pounder demonstrating the effects of H2-receptor antagonists on intragastric acidity. Roy Pounder didn't tell me to write that.
- What is the most important fact that you have (re-)discovered?
- There's more than one way to skin a cat.
- What is the biggest mistake that you have made?
- Not reading the fine print!
- What is your greatest regret?
- I missed the opportunity of completing the MSc course in Design, Method and Evaluation while I was a Fellow in Gastroenterology at McMaster.
- How do you relax?
- With friends, over a glass of wine in convivial surroundings. I enjoy a cigar too - but usually regret it the following morning.
- What is your favorite sport?
- I enjoy watching Scotland beat anyone at Rugby. I have a passing interest in Major League Baseball.
- What is your best place in the world?
- That is a tough question. I have been fortunate in seeing many different parts of the world. Sunset over the red rocks in Sedona, Arizona takes a lot of beating.
- What is your favorite film?
- It's impossible for me to be that selective, but Apocalypse Now springs to mind. The heavily camouflaged face of the deranged Martin Sheen emerging from the water to the background accompaniment of The End by The Doors was a defining moment!
- What car do you drive?
- Mercedes Benz SLK 230 with retractable hard-top; seemed like a good idea when I lived in South Carolina but it's somewhat impractical for the long Chicago winters.
- What is your best electronic 'toy'?
- I'm ashamed to admit that I'm not really "into" electronic toys. I'm still trying to master a digital camera I bought at an airport. I'm a "low tech" kinda guy.
- What book are you reading at the moment?
- When we were orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro.
- Why did you get in involved in GastroHep.com?
- I was invited by Roy Pounder, and was intrigued. Although I am "low tech" in outlook, I do envisage great educational opportunities for the "web".
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