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Jonathan Rhodes is Professor of Medicine and Honorary Consultant Gastroenterologist at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital.
He was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1949. After a very cold winter (1953 he thinks) the family moved south, eventually settling close to the river Thames in the county of Surrey. As a teenager he became addicted to the sport of rowing and this continued to occupy most of his grey cells until about three months before his Final MB examinations (training at Cambridge University and St Thomas' Hospital Medical School). Fortunately there were just enough functioning cells remaining to absorb some facts and he qualified in 1973. This was followed by posts at St Thomas' Hospital and then at Kingston-Upon-Thames, where he experienced an extensive range and quantity of general medicine.
Professor Rhodes became a Senior House Officer at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital, London in renal and respiratory medicine. This, plus working adjacently to Professor Chris Booth's gastroenterology ward, helped to confirm his growing belief that gastroenterology was the best specialty. He then moved to the Royal Free Hospital under Dame Sheila Sherlock, working initially as a general registrar with Derek Jewell and Neil Macintyre and then continuing as a research fellow with Derek Jewell, investigating leucocyte chemotaxis in inflammatory bowel disease.
Under Sheila Sherlock's reign one custom was that all the fellows took turns to present a 30-minute topic presentation. The audience would include various world authorities on a range of gastroenterological and hepatological subjects, and the ground rules prevented a presentation on any subject that the speaker was known to be already actively investigating. The choice of topic was therefore critical, if serious embarrassment was to be avoided. This led to a desperate and random search through the library, which resulted in the chance finding of a dusty and partially uncut volume of the British Medical Bulletin, entirely devoted to mucus. Sensing firstly the relative lack of popularity of this research field and secondly its probable relevance to inflammatory bowel disease he decided to pursue a research interest in mucus and glycobiology, which he has continued ever since.
Professor Rhodes had further clinical training in Birmingham, England, with Professor Elwyn Elias and Drs Robert Allan and Roy Cockel, to all of whom, as well as to Dame Sheila Sherlock and Professor Derek Jewell, he owes much gratitude for their enthusiastic and patient support.
He went to Liverpool in 1985 where he now has a large clinical practice in inflammatory bowel disease. He also heads a research team whose main focus is the study of the causes and consequences of altered glycosylation in the colonic epithelium in relation to colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.
Professor Rhodes has edited three books, including Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (with Drs Allan, Keighley, Alexander-Williams, Hanauer, and Fazio) and an interactive CD-ROM (with Alastair Forbes) for continuing education in gastroenterology (produced jointly between the British Society of Gastroenterology and Harcourt Publishers).
He is a current or past member of the editorial boards of Gut, Clinical Science, and Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and has over 150 peer-reviewed publications. He has just finished a term as Chairman of the Education and Programme Committee of the British Society of Gastroenterology and is current Chairman of the Joint Speciality Committee on Gastroenterology and Hepatology of the Royal College of Physicians. He was appointed a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 1999 and was awarded the Avery Jones Research Medal of the British Society of Gastroenterology in 1989.
His wife, Elizabeth, was Dame Sheila Sherlock's House Physician and is now a Consultant Hematologist. They have three daughters who have so far (but not necessarily forever) succeeded in avoiding careers in medicine.
- What made you decide to become a gastroenterologist?
- The belief that this was the nearest one could get to general medicine, and a love of mechanical toys.
- Who was the teacher you admired the most?
- As a teacher - unequivocally Dame Sheila Sherlock for her remarkable combination of clinical skill and clarity of thought; as mentors - Professor Derek Jewell and Dr Robert Allan who have both given me enormous guidance, support, and friendship in my development as a researcher and clinician.
- Which research paper influenced you the most?
- Br Med Bull. 1978; 34. Mucus - a whole volume of it.
- What is the most important fact that you have discovered?
- Proof of the concept (Lancet 1996;347:40-4)
that alteration of mucosal glycosylation as seen in inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer (J Clin Invest 1995;95:571-6)
can lead to functionally important interactions with lectins in the gut lumen (Gastroenterology 1998;114:44-9
and J Biological Chemistry 1999;274:4890-9).
- What is the biggest mistake that you have made?
- Failing to culture H pylori - see: TP Rollason, J Stone and JM Rhodes Spiral organisms in endoscopic biopsies of the human stomach (J Clin Pathol 1984; 37: 23-6).
- What is your unfulfilled ambition?
- Lots - finding the cause of inflammatory bowel disease, playing the classical guitar to a decent level, arriving home at a civilized time, living by a river etc, etc.
- What is your greatest regret?
- I think I've been too lucky to deserve to have any regrets.
- How do you relax?
- Hill walking, listening to daughters playing music, coaching the old college crew at rowing, dining out (and in - help, my wife might just read this).
- What is your favorite sport?
- What is your best place in the world?
- "The George Inn", Hubberholme, Wharfedale, Yorkshire Dales.
- What is your favorite film?
- Any Marx Brothers, followed by "Mon Oncle".
- What car do you drive?
- A 1972 Bristol 411 Series 3 (at weekends anyway).
- What is your best electronic 'toy'?
- A Psion Series 5.
- What book are you reading at the moment?
- "The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds and the Laws of Physics" by Roger Penrose - what I've read so far is full of mathematical formulae and I can't understand most of the words either!
- Why did you get in involved in GastroHep.com?
- Because of the persuasiveness and determination of Roy Pounder's emails and because it looks fun and informative.