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Professor Michael Hobsley was born in 1929 in Calcutta, where his father was working. He went up to Cambridge in 1945. There he first read Natural Sciences, then Medicine, and did his clinical studies at the Middlesex Hospital, London. After training posts, including 5 years in surgical research, he gradually climbed the academic and clinical ladders to become Professor of Surgery and Head of the Department of Surgical Studies at the Middlesex, and later at University College as well. His wife is also a doctor; they were married in 1953. He retired from clinical practice in 1994.
His academic qualifications besides the FRCS include MChir, Cambridge, as well as PhD and DSc (Med), London. He is a Fellow of the Indian Surgical Association and also the American Surgical Association.
Professor Hobsley's clinical and research interests have been wide, but his great surgical love is gastroenterology. His interests in this have included the surgical anatomy of the liver, the dumping syndrome, the physiology of gastric acid secretion, the aetiology of peptic ulcer, surgical vagotomy and the acute abdomen. Active research at present includes Helicobacter pylori and, in collaboration with Mr Frank Tovey and Professor Kaushik, diet in relation to peptic ulcer in northern compared with southern India.
- What made you decide to become a gastroenterologist?
- I was trained as a general surgeon and therefore most of my major problems involved the alimentary tract or other abdominal organs.
- Who was the teacher you admired the most?
- Mr David Patey, who was Director of the Department of Surgical Studies at the Middlesex until his retirement in 1964. A grave demeanor, offset with a twinkling eye, and a 'woolly' manner of speech disguised one of the sharpest brains I have met. He taught me never to accept 'the obvious' without careful thought and research.
- What is the most important fact that you have discovered?
- I don't know, but the most satisfying to me was the demonstration that all samples of aspirated gastric secretion, no matter how widely different in electrolyte concentrations, can be shown to consist of pure gastric secretion (with fixed electrolyte concentrations) admixed with swallowed saliva and refluxed duodenal juice. However, I was only one member of a large team that established this over a period of 20 years.
- What is the biggest mistake that you have made?
- Unearthing evidence that Helicobacter pylori is unlikely to be the primary cause of duodenal ulceration (J Gastroenterol Hepatol 1999; 14: 1053-6). I am not popular with my gastroenterological colleagues!
- What is your unfulfilled ambition?
- To prove I am right (if I am right, of course)!
- How do you relax?
- By solving crosswords and playing the piano; and recently I have again taken up writing short stories, a thing I used to do as a youngster.
- What is your favorite sport?
- What car do you drive?
- A Peugeot, I think.
- Why did you get in involved in GastroHep.com?
- Because when Roy Pounder asked me to contribute to Soapbox, I couldn't think of a good reason not to.