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 24 May 2022

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Dr Brian Saunders is Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Physician at St Mark's and Northwick Park Hospitals, and is head of the hospital's newly formed Academic Department of Endoscopy. His main research interests include therapeutic colonoscopy, endoscopy teaching, and the development and evaluation of novel endoscopic technology.

Brian Saunders qualified in medicine from University College Hospital, London in 1988. He trained in General Medicine in the North East of England and in Gastroenterology in London at St Mark's, Guy's, and Lewisham Hospitals. In 1996 he completed his MD thesis on Advances in Colonoscopic Practice and was also awarded the Hopkin's Endoscopy Prize from the British Society of Gastroenterology. He is married to Annie (a pediatrician) and has a baby daughter, Rebecca, who is just 5 months old.

What made you decide to become a gastroenterologist?
As soon as I picked up a gastroscope (during my intern year) I knew a career in gastroenterology was for me. Few areas of medicine combine the practical with the intellectual so well.
Who was the teacher you admired the most?
I have been lucky to have had many excellent teachers. During the early part of my career I am indebted to Peter Trewby (Darlington, England), who taught me upper GI endoscopy and encouraged an interest in research. I have been fortunate to have Christopher Williams as my teacher, mentor, colleague, and friend.
Which research paper (by another person) influenced you the most?
Wendy Atkin's paper (Lancet 1993; 34: 736-40), outlining the rationale and methodology for a British national colorectal cancer screening study of once-only flexible sigmoidoscopy. This has now become a reality (probably the largest study ever undertaken in gastroenterology) and will answer definitively many questions about colon cancer and the role of endoscopy.
What is the most important fact that you have discovered?
You can't do everything yourself. Once anything gets beyond a certain size, teamwork is essential, albeit with clear leadership.
What is your unfulfilled ambition?
I suspect that my chances of playing soccer and cricket for England are rapidly receding (like the hairline!).
What is your greatest regret?
Never having the chance to get close to my father, who died whilst I was in my first year at medical school.
How do you relax?
I enjoy most sports and play soccer in the winter and tennis in the summer. I find a game of chess with friends accompanied by a good glass of wine particularly relaxing. Best of all is spending some quality time with my wife and baby.
What is your favorite sport?
Soccer ... but tennis, cricket, and golf come a close second.
What is your best place in the world?
Aldeburgh in Suffolk, England.
What is your favorite film?
"Jean de Florette" (1986). Any film with Gerard Depardieu is usually brilliant, but this has everything: atmosphere, passion, joy, and tragedy.
What car do you drive?
A Fiat coupe. Fast but surprisingly practical!
What is your best electronic 'toy'?
My Gateway Solo laptop computer, loaded with video capture and compression software. Being able to show video from Powerpoint has transformed my presentation style at meetings.
What book are you reading at the moment?
"Waterlog: A swimmer's journey through Britain" by Roger Deakin.
Why did you get in involved in
The time is right. The World Wide Web offers so much in terms of interactive communication, particularly for a practical and very visual subject such as endoscopy.

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