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Michael Arthur is Professor of Medicine at the University of Southampton and Honorary Consultant Hepatologist at Southampton University Hospitals Trust. He is a Southampton BM graduate, and completed junior clinical training posts in general internal medicine and gastroenterology/hepatology in Southampton, Nottingham, and Bournemouth. Professor Arthur then initiated his research career in liver cell biology under the guidance of Professor Ralph Wright in Southampton, initially as a research fellow and later as Lecturer in Medicine (between 1982-89).
In 1988 Professor Arthur obtained a Fogarty International Travelling Fellowship and spent two years in the Liver Center Laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco, under the direction of Monty Bissell. Here he first developed his interests in the cell and molecular pathogenesis of liver fibrosis. He returned to the UK, and in 1989 was appointed to a Senior Lecturer position. Then, in 1992, he became Chair of Medicine at 37 years of age.
Professor Arthur's contribution to research was recognized with the award of the American Liver Foundation Research Prize (1987) and the Linacre Medal of the Royal College of Physicians, London (1994).
From 1995 to 1998 he was Research Coordinator for the School of Medicine, and became Head of the School of Medicine in Southampton from 1998 to 2001.
- What made you decide to become a hepatologist?
- I decided to become a hepatologist as a student. I was fascinated by viral hepatitis and felt that there was plenty of room in liver disease to make a significant research contribution.
- Who was the teacher you admired the most?
- Without a question I was influenced most of all by Professor Ralph Wright, a giant of a man in every sense of the word.
- Which research paper influenced you the most?
- This is difficult. I think I would have to identify Scott Friedman's paper on hepatic stellate cells as the principal source of collagens in liver (Friedman et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci 1985; 82: 8681-5). This single contribution opened up the whole field of study of cell and molecular mechanisms of liver fibrosis.
- What is the most important fact that you have discovered?
- The most important thing that I have discovered is that liver fibrosis is a dynamic process and that in progressive fibrosis, matrix degradation is inhibited by TIMPs. This situation is reversed during regression of liver fibrosis, which definitely occurs in human liver disease.
- What is the biggest mistake that you have made?
- The biggest mistake I have made was to be involved in co-authoring the Research Assessment Exercise documents for our medical school soon after I took up my chair in 1992. That has led to me being heavily involved in RAE matters ever since! It consumes hours of my time!
- What is your unfulfilled ambition?
- My unfulfilled ambition is to win the annual Round the Island (Isle of Wight) yacht race.
- What is your greatest regret?
- My greatest regret was having to leave the Bay Area after my international fellowship in San Francisco. In my opinion it is simply wonderful there and it is the most difficult place in the world to say goodbye to.
- How do you relax?
- I sail and race sailing yachts. I'm not very good at it, but I try, and that makes me concentrate on nature's forces, forget my worries at work, and thus relax. Proximity to water is essential for my sanity.
- What is your favorite sport?
- After sailing it has to be rugby. I love going to Twickenham to watch England play. I'm also a life long Spurs supporter - well you can't have it all can you!
- What is your best place in the world?
- I'm a California freak. The best place in the world is Yosemite National Park. My office wall is covered in Ansel Adams photographs of Yosemite.
- What is your favorite film?
- I like drama - it has to be "Witness". An edge-of-the-seat movie.
- What car do you drive?
- I drive an Audi A6 1.8 Turbo. Poetry in motion.
- What is your best electronic 'toy'?
- My best electronic toy is my Sony digital camera DSC-S70 - what fun snapping away with more than 3 million pixels to play with.
- What book are you reading at the moment?
- I am currently reading "Organizing Genius" again. It's a must for anyone who is trying to lead anything and explains the dynamics of 'great groups' that go on and achieve the apparently impossible. Now why would I be reading that for a second time?
- Why did you get in involved in GastroHep.com?
- I got involved in Gastrohep because it has to be the future and I wanted to see if it would work.