Why did you go into hematology?
I was excited by the possibility of combining clinical practice, laboratory work, and research in hematology.
I enjoyed clinical hematology as a medical student at Barts at a time when combination chemotherapy was first being used, and my first junior medical post was on an academic gastroenterology unit where there were numerous hematological problems.
Who or what has most inspired you in your work?
As a medical student and a junior doctor on his firm at Barts, Tony Dawson inspired an enduring excitement about clinical medicine and the use of clincal and laboratory research to answer clinically related questions.
After I had completed my hematology training, Albert von dem Borne and Sherrill Slichter were influential in focussing my interest on clinical aspects of platelet immunology.
Which scientific papers have made a great impression on you?
A short but challenging review by Charlie Schiffer and Sherrill Slichter made a big impression on me at a time when I was considering my first independent clinical research (Schiffer CA & Slichter SJ. Platelet transfusions from single donors. New England Journal of Medicine, 1982, 307, 245-248).
It raised a number of important questions, including the advantages and disadvantages of platelet concentrates prepared from single donors by apheresis or from units of whole blood,and the use of HLA-matched donors to manage, and even prevent, alloimmune platelet refractoriness.
This was an important stimulus for me to plan and complete a study on the prevention of HLA alloimmunisation and platelet refractoriness using leucocyte-depleted blood components over the next 3 years, and to continue to have an interest in this field ever since. It was also a real pleasure to subsequently meet and get to know both of the authors of the review.
What is the most important lesson you've learnt in your professional life?
The importance of listening carefully to others, whether they be patients, colleagues, or family. They usually have the correct answer to the problem in hand!
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement has been in leading the development and implementation of end-to-end electronic control of the hospital blood transfusion process in Oxford.
This has resulted in significant improvements in patient safety and in the efficiency of transfusion in the Oxford hospitals, and is now being widely used in other hospitals in England, Europe and the United States.
In my dual role as hospital hematologist and consultant for NHS Blood & Transplant, I have been successful in encouraging NHS Blood & Transplant to become more directly involved in promoting better transfusion practice in hospitals.
I am also proud of 'Practical Transfusion Medicine', a book now in its 3rd edition co-edited by myself and Derwood Pamphilon. It fills a gap between handbooks and large textbooks of transfusion medicine, and provides a comprehensive guide in a format accessible to hematologists in training as well as those involved in transfusion in their everyday clinical practice.
What are the best and worst aspects of your job?
The best part of my job is its variety, and maintaining a combination of clinical practice,laboratory work and research. I enjoy working with a huge range of people in Oxford, but increasingly with colleagues around the UK and internationally.
The worst part of my job is frustration that there is so much more to do to achieve a consistently high standard in transfusion practice.
When or where are you happiest?
I am at my happiest driving home over the top of the Berkshire Downs with its beautiful views of the countryside after a busy and stimulating day's work with colleagues in Oxford or elsewhere.
What do you do to relax?
I enjoy a number of sports. My main love is soccer, although I am now definitely retired from competitive action.
I enjoy going to watch London Wasps rugby with my 16-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter, playing golf and surfing in Cornwall in the summer.
What book are you reading at the moment?
I am currently enthralled by Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, having thoroughly enjoyed his A Thousand Splendid Suns.
What's your most evocative piece of music?
Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte has always been a particular favourite since I first saw it at Glyndebourne on a glorious summer evening many years ago with a family party of about 40.
What's your favorite film?
My favourite film is 'Some Like It Hot' with Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. It is a family favourite and never fails to entertain us.
We stayed at Hotel del Coronado, where it was filmed, near San Diego in 2004. Unfortunately, the local fires forced us to evacuate north towards Los Angeles after only one night!
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy reading for pleasure, listening to music (my musical taste is now largely driven by my teenage children), and learning about (and drinking!) wine.
What car do you drive?
A 2004 VW Golf.
My other car is a Ferrari …(I wish)!
What are your unfulfilled ambitions?
Too many to mention….playing midfield for Everton and scoring a winning goal against Liverpool, winning the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club….. and being more prolific as a clinical researcher.
How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as someone who enjoyed his personal and professional life, helped and had fun with family, friends and colleagues, and made a contribution to improving transfusion practice for patients.