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 13 August 2022

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Photo of <div style=fiogf49gjkf0dGil Barbezat" align="left">


Gil Barbezat is currently the Director of the Medical Teaching Support Unit and Mary Glendining Professor of Medicine in the Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. He is a graduate of the University of Capetown Medical School in South Africa.

Professor Barbezat’s first contact with gastroenterology was as a Research Fellow in the NIH sponsored nutrition unit in Cape Town (under John Hansen and John Brock). He completed his MD thesis there on "The exocrine pancreas and protein-calorie malnutrition". He completed his training in general medicine and then gastroenterology at the Groote Schuur Hospital and its Gastroenterology Clinic, headed by Solly Marks and Simmy Bank.

A US PHS Fogarty Fellowship provided an opportunity for more research in the West Los Angeles VA Center headed by Morton Grossman. Studies focused on the control of gastrointestinal secretion. Studies on gastric, pancreatic, and intestinal secretion were pursued on his return to Cape Town. These became linked to the newer drugs (H2 -antagonists) controlling gastric acid secretion.

In 1978 after a brief research fellowship with Fred Halter in Bern, Switzerland, Professor Barbezat emigrated to Dunedin, New Zealand. He continued in his research interests, including periods of study leave at Case Western Medical School (Cleveland, Ohio, USA) with John Banwell and Fred Webber, and at the Manchester Medical School, UK with Leslie Turnberg and Geoff Warhurst.

Gil Barbezat has produced 21 book chapters and 125 papers in the peer reviewed medical literature. Although still active in some research, most current academic activity is in the field of medical education.

What made you decide to become a gastroenterologist?
I was offered a research fellowship in a NIH sponsored pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition unit; found it a fascinating field, worth pursuing, but preferred adults.
Who was the teacher you admired the most?
Mort Grossman, a dedicated scientist and physician with encyclopedic knowledge, boundless energy, and great integrity, who still related well to mere mortals.
Which research paper influenced you the most?
The series of papers by Siekevitz and Palade (e.g. J Biophys Biochem Cytol 1958; 4: 309-18), which linked anatomy, biochemistry, and physiology in the gastrointestinal tract (pancreas).
What is the most important fact that you have discovered?
Vasointestinal peptide (VIP) is a small bowel secretagogue (Science 1971; 174: 422-4).
What is the biggest mistake that you have made?
Suggesting glucagon and gastrin may be the cause of pancreatic cholera. They did produce diarrhoea, but distracted from our later discovery of VIP (or GIP) as the hormone involved.
What is your unfulfilled ambition?
To write a non-medical book, and hold an exhibition of my wood sculptures.
What is your greatest regret?
Not spending more time with my children in their most formative years.
How do you relax?
Wood carving, hiking, gardening, listening to music, dining out with good company.
What is your favorite sport?
Rugby – I enjoyed it at school, although never played with much distinction. I have become an All Black fan.
What is your best place in the world?
Waianakarua – a haven of peace and beauty between river, hills, and forest 100 km from Dunedin.
What is your favorite film?
"Chariots of Fire" – wonderful story of people and how they deal with success, failure, and moral dilemmas.
What car do you drive?
A Subaru Legacy.
What is your best electronic 'toy'?
My laptop.
What book are you reading at the moment?
"The Doubter’s Companion" by John Ralston Saul. He expresses so well what I feel.
Why did you get in involved in
I was invited by friends I respect greatly to join the cause.

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