Touching Lives - June 2006
Meet the Researchers
How did you get involved in this particular area of medical research?
Early in my career as an engineer I moved into bioengineering — a relatively young and exciting profession. Having done a PhD at Liverpool University Faculty of Medicine, I went on to specialise in prosthetic/orthotic biomechanics, where there is a strong link between medicine and engineering. Initially my major activities were teaching and course development and co-ordination. Then a group of us set about obtaining a better understanding of the interface between a prosthetic limb and the body, and the factors which give the patient the best prospect of successful treatment.
Why do you think medical research is so important?
Experts often say what they think is best and, if there is sufficient consensus, we may give that some credibility. However, the only way to be sure about the merits of a particular treatment, and produce reliable information on which to base decisions about future treatments, is to assess it objectively through a well-designed research study.
Have you ever worked outside medical research?
Teaching has been an important (and enjoyable) part of my life for thirty years. I teach undergraduate students and postgraduate medical personnel. Also, since 1995 I have been Honorary Secretary of the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics, which has been hard work but very rewarding. It has opened up the opportunity to participate in international issues and visit many different countries — particularly in the developing world.
What do you do in your free time?
I enjoy spending time with my family; my grandchildren keep me young at heart. To keep fit I play basketball and try to keep the garden under control. I also enjoy the countryside and playing the guitar — although not usually at the same time! I occasionally write short poems, intended to be humorous; initially to brighten up lectures but I have had requests to write verses for occasions such as staff retirements.
What type of music do you like?
All kinds from Beethoven to Bob Dylan to the Rolling Stones to Franz Ferdinand and many others.