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Tim Heap was born in 1942 in Dubbo in western New South Wales, Australia. He graduated in 1966 from Sydney University. He then completed postgraduate training at the Royal North Shore Hospital and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, gained his FRACP and did further postgraduate studies in Nagoya, Japan, and at the Middlesex Hospital in London, England.
Since returning to Australia, Dr Heap has worked in a private consultant gastroenterology practice and has been a member of the visiting staff at Royal North Shore and the Mater Misericordiae Hospitals in Sydney.
Tim and Sue Heap live in the harbor-side suburb of Mosman, Sydney. They have five children and one grandchild.
- What made you decide to become a gastroenterologist?
- I enjoyed all the various terms during the early years of my postgraduate medical training and would gladly have undertaken further training in a series of specialties. I was appointed to be the GE registrar working with Doug Piper at RNSH. I subsequently worked in the AW Morrow Gastroenterology Unit at RPAH, before having the opportunity to work with Tatsuzo Kasugai in Nagoya, Japan. Here they had a lot of experience in early gastric cancer as well as being one of the units pioneering ERCP. After that I worked with Peter Cotton in London, and we have had an ongoing friendship.
- Which research paper influenced you the most?
- The editorial by Kasugai in Gastroenterology on early gastric cancer titled, "Prognosis of Early Gastric Cancer" (Gastroenterology 1970; 58 (3): 129-30). Western medicine was slow to accept the significance of early gastric cancer, and it is interesting that more recently there has been a similar reluctance to accept the occurrence of non-polyp related colon cancer.
- What is the most important fact that you have discovered?
- How kind people working in the field of gastroenterology have been to us over the years, and the pleasure we continue to get from their ongoing friendships. I haven't made any scientific breakthroughs, but one of the things that makes me glad to wake up most mornings is that I might make an important observation that day. Like many others, I too didn't appreciate the significance of Campylobacter Pylori, as it then was. Early on I wrote a couple of papers that helped to persuade people at home that Giardia Lamblia was a pathogen and not just a harmless commensal, and that the various signs of recent hemorrhage could help us to better manage those with bleeding peptic ulcers.
- What is the biggest mistake that you have made?
- Deciding in the early 1970s that we didn't need more than one colonoscopist in our hospital, because there was never going to be a big demand for it. My wife has never forgiven me!
- How do you relax?
- In my garden. Losing plants is not the same as losing patients.
- What is your best place in the world?
- I love to travel overseas with my wife, but Australian accents and the smell of gum trees still bring tears to my eyes when I get home. I'm sorry if this is corny but it is true. Also the tune "Waltzing Matilda" has a similar effect. I suspect most of us think there's no place like home.
- What is your favorite film?
- It is hard to pick between "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Casablanca".
- What car do you drive?
- A reliable old Mercedes E230.
- What is your best electronic 'toy'?
- I would be frustrated without my old Photostat machine (that dates me). I am in the habit of enclosing copies of relevant journal articles in letters to referring General Practitioners and I also like to make Photostat copies of interesting new papers for my registrars and residents.
- What book are you reading at the moment?
- Currently I am slowly wading through Roy Porter's "The Greatest Benefit to Mankind".
- Why did you get in involved in GastroHep.com?
- I didn't want to miss the boat again (see 'my biggest mistake', above).
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