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David Adams is Professor of Hepatology at the University of Birmingham. He trained in hepatology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, between 1986-1990, as an MRC research fellow studying immune mechanisms of liver transplant rejection.
In 1991 he was awarded an MRC travelling fellowship to study lymphocyte adhesion molecules in Dr Stephen Shaw's laboratory at the Experimental Immunology Branch of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. He was involved in the first studies to show that chemokines (a recently described family of chemotactic cytokines) can activate lymphocyte adhesion when bound to proteoglycans in the endothelial glycocalyx.
He returned to the UK at the end of 1993, and was appointed to the Chair of Hepatology at the University of Birmingham in 1997. David's laboratory work is on various aspects of immune regulation and particularly the role of specific chemokines and adhesion molecules in lymphocyte homing to the liver.
He continues to have a clinical interest in hepatology and liver transplantation and is currently an Associate Editor of Gut and Liver.
- What made you decide to become a hepatologist?
- I enjoyed gastroenterology as a senior house officer and was always interested in the close link between immunology and gastroenterology. My detour into hepatology was inspired by the emerging field of liver transplantation.
- Who was the teacher you admired the most?
- Dr Stephen Shaw, head of the human immunology lab at the NCI at NIH. Steve is an inspirational scientist who has the rare ability to come up with truly novel scientific concepts. I recently re-read some of his review articles from 10 years ago and it is amazing how many of the concepts he proposed at that time have proved to be correct. He provided me with a wonderful grounding in research for which I will always be grateful.
- Which research paper influenced you the most?
- A mini-review in Cell in 1991 by Eugene Butcher entitled, 'Leukocyte-endothelial cell recognition: three (or more) steps to specificity and diversity'. We were thinking along similar lines but this paper succinctly encapsulated and brought together the emerging concepts in leukocyte recruitment. Nine years on it is still the model that most of us work on.
- What is the most important fact that you have discovered?
- Whilst at NIH Yoshiya Tanaka, Steve Shaw and I reported that chemokines can activate lymphocyte adhesion when they are retained in the endothelial glycocalyx, thereby providing a mechanism to explain how activation of adhesion can be restricted to specific sites/tissues.
- What is the biggest mistake that you have made?
- In 1986 we reported lymphocyte chemotactic factors in human bile and a colleague of mine tried to persuade me to take time out to fully characterize them, but I didn't think it was worth it. They turned out to be C-C chemokines, which were not discovered for several more years.
- What is your unfulfilled ambition?
- I am not foolish enough to tell anyone.
- What is your greatest regret?
- There are not many but I do wish that I had done a further post-doctoral fellowship before returning to clinical science and that I had a better grounding in biochemistry.
- How do you relax?
- Walking, fishing, reading, music and spending time with my family.
- What is your favorite sport?
- Football (soccer).
- What is your best place in the world?
- The summit of Pillar in the English Lake District on a clear day.
- What is your favorite film?
- The Third Man by Carol Reed.
- What car do you drive?
- A 'J' registration Ford Fiesta.
- What is your best electronic 'toy'?
- Portable CD player.
- What books are you reading at the moment?
- Libra by Don DeLillo and Seeing Things by Seamus Heaney.
- Why did you get in involved in GastroHep.com?
- The Web provides a forum for the rapid exchange of information with colleagues and the public and will be increasingly important in the future. GastroHep.com has the potential to pioneer this field for gastroenterology.