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I have been a consultant gastroenterologist for the past 18 years at St. James's University Hospital, Leeds, UK, which is the largest acute Trust in Great Britain and acute hospital in Western Europe. I am mainly involved in "tubular" gastroenterology and run a joint medical-surgical GI practice with my surgical colleague, Pierre Guillou. We run combined clinics mainly to see acute referrals, patients for assessment for anti-reflux surgery and those with inflammatory bowel disease. My major research activities have been in H.pylori and particularly the mucosal immune response to infection, and also that in IBD. I also have interests in nutritional immunity, dyspepsia and clinical economics in gastroenterology.
I edit the International Journal of Gastroenterology. I also set up and have run, for the past 18 years, The Leeds Course in Clinical Nutrition, both of which are challenging and yet great fun.
I trained in Cardiff and stayed on to complete my MD and MRCP before leaving for Nottingham. I went there to pursue nutritional activities with Simon Allison. I also worked with Michael Atkinson, thus stimulating an interest in the esophagus. I had previously developed a major interest in mucosal immunity through IBD studies, and obtained funding to go and work with John Bienenstock at McMaster University in Canada. I stayed there for two years and then diverted from my original plan to go to a permanent job in Michigan.
I returned to join Les Hughes and John Rhodes in Cardiff. I was appointed to a consultant post on Reg Hall's unit there but, since everyone else was in endocrinology, I felt like a fish out of water! I therefore subsequently went to Leeds and have stayed ever since.
- What made you decide to become a gastroenterologist?
- I was offered a post by Les Hughes and John Rhodes immediately after registration on a joint research and clinical appointment, and it seemed a good idea at the time! Routine endoscopy was just starting and GI struck me as being an exciting area with more happening than other medical specialities. Early on I had difficulty in deciding whether to be a physician or a surgeon, and this appeared a reasonable compromise.
- Who was the teacher you admired the most?
- Picton Thomas, who was an endocrinologist. He taught me for MRCP. By the time I got to the exam it was a doddle compared with his teaching sessions!
- Which research paper influenced you the most?
- It has to be the original Warren & Marshall observations on H. pylori.
- What is the most important fact that you have discovered?
- That lymphoid cells traffic into the intestinal lumen (Gastroenterology 1982, 82, 268-275). This is probably very important in relation to oral immunisation, antigen uptake and intestinal inflammation.
- What is the biggest mistake that you have made?
- Professionally and financially, probably going to North America for two years. On the other hand, it was a tremendous experience and I would certainly not otherwise have accepted that the grass was not greener.
- What is your unfulfilled ambition?
- To learn to fly; to document details on all the church organs of Yorkshire; and to get published an already-written manuscript on the scientific basis of traditional healing remedies.
- What is your greatest regret?
- Never having found a sufficiently ancient stomach to demonstrate how old H. pylori really is.
- How do you relax?
- Taxiing the kids, walking the dog and avoiding shopping.
- What is your favorite sport?
- County cricket and golf.
- What is your best place in the world?
- City: Hong Kong.
Foreign country: Thailand.
(Good old Britain is pretty good to live in though).
- What is your favorite film?
- Reach for the Sky.
- What car do you drive?
- A suped-up Renault Clio for me and, with the family, a Toyota Previa.
- What is your best electronic 'toy'?
- My radio; it's the only thing I can work!
- What book are you reading at the moment?
- Wild Swans by Jung Chang - the best I have ever read.
- Why did you get in involved in GastroHep.com?
- Because of Roy Pounder's irresistible persuasive powers and his making me an offer I couldn't refuse! Seriously, I saw a demonstration in San Diego and genuinely felt it made a good attempt at filling a currently unfulfilled need for those interested in gastroenterology.
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