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Professor Daniel Present is Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, USA. He went to college in Syracuse University, New York, and attended the State University of New York, Down State Medical Center, Brookland, New York. His postgraduate training was at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, where he was both intern and resident. He has published 121 original scientific articles, mostly related to inflammatory bowel disease. He has been a member of the National Scientific Advisory Board of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America since 1981. Among many awards he received the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America Life-time Achievement Award in 1993, the American Gastroenterology Association Distinguished Clinician Award in 1996, and was made a Master of the American College of Gastroenterology also in 1996.
He is married to Jane W. Present, past Chairman of the Board of Trustees and past National President of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. They have three children, and three grandchildren.
- What made you decide to become a gastroenterologist?
- Unbelievably simple. I had always thought about obstetrics and gynecology, but my wife said that I would be away from home too often. I was an intern in the Department of Medicine, and one of the senior residents told me to go into gastroenterology, since Dr Henry Janowitz was building a new division and had received a NIH grant to educate GI fellows. I met Dr Janowitz and was greatly impressed with not only his GI knowledge, but also his overall ability to educate in many spheres. Little did my wife realize that being an academic gastroenterologist would keep me away from home as much as an obstetrician delivering babies!
- Who was the teacher you admired the most?
- Dr Janowitz became my mentor and the teacher I admired the most.
- Which research paper influenced you the most?
- Research papers by other people have not influenced me. I was influenced to follow my own hunches after Dr Burt Korelitz and I completed our 6-mercaptopurine paper. We were amazed to find that people did not believe us because of the results of the National Cooperative Crohn's Disease Study. I could not understand how I could spend nine years on a project and not be believed. I continue to follow my own hunches, which are for the most part, the road less traveled.
- What is the most important fact that you have discovered?
- The fact that I have learned how to do control trials without any major formal training in the area.
- What is the biggest mistake that you have made?
- The biggest mistake that I have made was not starting a control trial with 6-mercaptopurine in ulcerative colitis. I was told that this drug was perhaps too dangerous and could kill people. Because of this many patients have lost their colons when they could have been salvaged. Even to this day doctors refrain from using immunomodulatory drugs in the treatment of ulcerative colitis.
- What is your unfulfilled ambition?
- I have been most fortunate to have a wonderful career and family, and my only unfulfilled ambition is that I do not have enough time to enjoy everything that I would like to.
- What is your greatest regret?
- Only perhaps that I did not spend as much time as I would have liked with my children as they were growing up.
- How do you relax?
- By reading newspapers, playing golf, and spending time with my children and grandchildren. As my wife used to say, "Your grandchildren are the best reason for not having killed your own children as they were growing up." I have been fortunate enough to have such wonderful children and grandchildren.
- What is your favorite sport?
- My favorite sport is golf - although it can be very frustrating when you do not achieve what you think you can on the course. I still spend lots of time exercising. I have run four marathons fairly recently but the orthopedic aches prevent me from continuing along that course.
- What is your best place in the world?
- My summer home in the Berkshires. It overlooks a lake and is unbelievably relaxing and low key. When you live in New York I believe you need a contrast to maintain your sanity.
- What is your favorite film?
- I have several favorite films. The top two are "High Society" and "Two for the Road". The latter is a wonderful look at long-term relationships, which my wife and I have had for 44 years.
- What car do you drive?
- I drive an Acura Legend and I love it.
- What is your best electronic 'toy'?
- I do not have any electronic toys. In fact I never carry a beeper or phone since I do not want to be annoyed when I am away from the office. I hate e-mail and only look at my computer every now and then. My wife usually looks at it for me to see if there is anything important.
- What book are you reading at the moment?
- I am currently reading a relaxing book entitled "Runaway Jury" by John Grisham. I regret not having enough time to read biographies and autobiographies. My favorite is the Winston Churchill series.
- Why did you get in involved in GastroHep.com?
- Simply because I respect you and the people you have gathered together to be involved with the project. It appears destined to be important for education.