I have spent much of my life wondering how living things are constructed – from an early age I have wondered ‘what’s inside’, ‘what does that do’ and ‘how does that work’? I went up to Guy’s Hospital Medical School in 1964 to study medicine but decided that medicine was not for me: I switched to study for a PhD and continued asking questions.
Over half a century later I am now Emeritus Professor of Anatomy at King’s College London and a Fellow of King’s College. As a neuroscientist, I worked on the biology of repair in the peripheral nervous system for many years, publishing over 150 articles in peer reviewed journals and numerous chapters in books: I am a Past President of the Peripheral Nerve Society (http://www.pnsociety.com/). As an anatomist, I taught medical and dental students and surgical trainees for over 40 years and have always championed anatomy as a fundamental component of medical and dental curricula throughout my career. In my ‘retirement’, I relish having the time to research and write on applied anatomical topics and on the histories of topographical anatomy and of peripheral nerve repair. I still act as an external examiner of anatomy at several UK medical schools, which keeps me up to date with modern medical curricula. These days I am often asked to write forewords or dust sheet ‘blurbs’ for books – apparently this is the fate of retired professors!
I was Admissions Tutor for Medicine for seven years, initially at UMDS and subsequently at King’s College London. While in this post, I played a key role in developing and driving forward the Access to Medicine Programme at King’s College, from its inception until 2006. This highly successful programme aims to widen access into medicine and the health-related professions and includes the Extended Medical Degree Programme (EMDP), specifically designed for students who are studying at a non-selective state school in Greater London, or who are participants of Realising Opportunities across England: there are now 300 students enrolled on the EMDP at King’s College London. As a result of my experience in the area of widening access to medicine, I acted as adviser during the development of similar courses at the Universities of Bradford and Southampton. I had huge fun as External Adviser for ‘Introduction to Health Sciences’ for the Open University, an experience that introduced me to the multiple roundabouts of Milton Keynes!
I am a past President of the Anatomical Society (www.anatsoc.org.uk/) and the current Editor-in-Chief of Gray’s Anatomy (39th, 40th and 41st editions, 42ndedition in preparation). My association with Gray’s Anatomy closes a circle because the 33rd edtion of the book was my 6th form prize back in 1964. Currently, I am a Trustee of the Hunterian Collection at the Royal College of Surgeons of England and I sit on the Council of the Hunterian Society. I am an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and have been a Trustee of both the Damiliola Taylor Trust and Changing Faces.