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 13 August 2022

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I have been a consultant gastroenterologist for the past 18 years at St. James's University Hospital, Leeds, UK, which is the largest acute Trust in Great Britain and acute hospital in Western Europe. I am mainly involved in "tubular" gastroenterology and run a joint medical-surgical GI practice with my surgical colleague, Pierre Guillou. We run combined clinics mainly to see acute referrals, patients for assessment for anti-reflux surgery and those with inflammatory bowel disease. My major research activities have been in H.pylori and particularly the mucosal immune response to infection, and also that in IBD. I also have interests in nutritional immunity, dyspepsia and clinical economics in gastroenterology.

I edit the International Journal of Gastroenterology. I also set up and have run, for the past 18 years, The Leeds Course in Clinical Nutrition, both of which are challenging and yet great fun.

I trained in Cardiff and stayed on to complete my MD and MRCP before leaving for Nottingham. I went there to pursue nutritional activities with Simon Allison. I also worked with Michael Atkinson, thus stimulating an interest in the esophagus. I had previously developed a major interest in mucosal immunity through IBD studies, and obtained funding to go and work with John Bienenstock at McMaster University in Canada. I stayed there for two years and then diverted from my original plan to go to a permanent job in Michigan.

I returned to join Les Hughes and John Rhodes in Cardiff. I was appointed to a consultant post on Reg Hall's unit there but, since everyone else was in endocrinology, I felt like a fish out of water! I therefore subsequently went to Leeds and have stayed ever since.

What made you decide to become a gastroenterologist?
I was offered a post by Les Hughes and John Rhodes immediately after registration on a joint research and clinical appointment, and it seemed a good idea at the time! Routine endoscopy was just starting and GI struck me as being an exciting area with more happening than other medical specialities. Early on I had difficulty in deciding whether to be a physician or a surgeon, and this appeared a reasonable compromise.
Who was the teacher you admired the most?
Picton Thomas, who was an endocrinologist. He taught me for MRCP. By the time I got to the exam it was a doddle compared with his teaching sessions!
Which research paper influenced you the most?
It has to be the original Warren & Marshall observations on H. pylori.
What is the most important fact that you have discovered?
That lymphoid cells traffic into the intestinal lumen (Gastroenterology 1982, 82, 268-275). This is probably very important in relation to oral immunisation, antigen uptake and intestinal inflammation.
What is the biggest mistake that you have made?
Professionally and financially, probably going to North America for two years. On the other hand, it was a tremendous experience and I would certainly not otherwise have accepted that the grass was not greener.
What is your unfulfilled ambition?
To learn to fly; to document details on all the church organs of Yorkshire; and to get published an already-written manuscript on the scientific basis of traditional healing remedies.
What is your greatest regret?
Never having found a sufficiently ancient stomach to demonstrate how old H. pylori really is.
How do you relax?
Taxiing the kids, walking the dog and avoiding shopping.
What is your favorite sport?
County cricket and golf.
What is your best place in the world?
City: Hong Kong.
Foreign country: Thailand.
(Good old Britain is pretty good to live in though).
What is your favorite film?
Reach for the Sky.
What car do you drive?
A suped-up Renault Clio for me and, with the family, a Toyota Previa.
What is your best electronic 'toy'?
My radio; it's the only thing I can work!
What book are you reading at the moment?
Wild Swans by Jung Chang - the best I have ever read.
Why did you get in involved in
Because of Roy Pounder's irresistible persuasive powers and his making me an offer I couldn't refuse! Seriously, I saw a demonstration in San Diego and genuinely felt it made a good attempt at filling a currently unfulfilled need for those interested in gastroenterology.

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