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Lars Aabakken is attending gastroenterologist at Rikshospitalet University Hospital in Oslo, Norway. He studied at the Faculty of Medicine in Oslo between 1980 and 1986, and finished his doctoral thesis in 1990 on the gastrointestinal side-effects of non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs.
Dr Aabakken trained in gastroenterology at Ulleval University Hospital (1994-1998). In 1996, he was awarded an International research Fellowship for a year at Charleston, South Carolina, USA, where he focused on endoscopic ultrasound under Professor Robert R. Hawes. He was also extensively involved in various computer-related activities on site, collaborating closely with Professor Peter B. Cotton.
In 1998, Dr Aabakken moved from Ulleval to Rikshospitalet University Hospital, where he is presently an attending gastroenterologist, focusing on endoscopic procedures, EUS, and motility studies. Since 1991, he has held an Associate Professorship in Medical Informatics, with special responsibility for computer applications in the medical school. He has also developed several computer programs, including editorial systems and clinical reporting solutions.
He is Secretary General of the Scandinavian Association for Digestive endoscopy (SADE), Executive Editor of the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, and an editorial board member of Endoscopy and Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. Dr Aabakken is also in charge of the Norwegian research and quality control board of the National Gastroenterological Society, and councillor of the European Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ESGE).
- What made you decide to become a gastroenterologist?
- I was picked up as a medical student. My teacher, Professor Magne Osnes, at Ulleval University Hospital, urged me to review some of his extensive clinical material. He continued pushing paper on to my desk until I was convinced this was meant to be. My thesis work, as well as my initial clinical positions in gastroenterology, helped me decide.
- Who was the teacher you admired the most?
- There are two really. Professor Magne Osnes has the sole responsibility for sparking my academic interest, and offered superb guidance during my most confused initial years in gastroenterology. He also taught me almost all his tricks of advanced endoscopy, in particular within ERCP. He was a true pioneer in Scandinavian gastroenterology, and has been a huge inspiration. The other lasting impression is that of Professor Peter B. Cotton in Charleston, SC. I was fortunate to spend a year in his department, and have been wondering since what it was he did to make me work so much harder than I really had to. In my opinion, he has the perfect set of characteristics that a good boss and mentor should have, and I never stopped wondering how he repeatedly found both time and enthusiasm for my (and others') thoughts and ideas.
- What is the most important fact that you have discovered?
- Probably that learning is a lifelong experience. Medical school really should dedicate more time to preparing us for that process, instead of pushing petty details during 6 busy post-college years.
- What is the biggest mistake that you have made?
- I am concerned that it has not been made yet.
- What is your unfulfilled ambition?
- A joint national web-based registry for tracking the endoscopic experience of Norwegian gastroenterologists. But we ARE getting there.
- What is your greatest regret?
- That customs and taxes killed my plans to bring my South Carolinian red convertible back to Norway with me.
- How do you relax?
- I bike every day, and I enjoy windsurfing during the summer and snowboarding in the winter. The latter has become a major family hit, involving my wife, as well as my two darling girls. Otherwise, I enjoy reading and watching good movies.
- What are your favorite sports?
- Snowboarding and windsurfing. To watch: Soccer matches won by the Norwegian National team.
- What is your best place in the world?
- Our summer house on the Swedish West Coast.
- What is your favorite film?
- "Basic Instinct" with Sharon Stone.
- What car do you drive?
- An 88 BMW.
- What is your best electronic 'toy'?
- A color screen Palm 3c (color, Peter!)
- What book are you reading at the moment?
- "Come Together" by Lloyd and Rees.
- Why did you get in involved in GastroHep.com?
- I was convinced (easily) by Roy Pounder. I was impressed with the rapid development of the site. I truly believe in the Internet for research and international collaboration, but it is vital, as Roy Pounder obviously understands, to involve a solid foundation of expert people that the users trust. As technology becomes increasingly available, the people factor will be even more important.