Anjan is a Professor of Medicine and Consultant Gastroenterologist who came to the UK on a Commonwealth fellowship to Oxford and became a Consultant in Luminal Gastroenterology at County Durham & Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.
What attracted you to a career in gastroenterology/hepatology?
During my Internal Medicine training in India, I encountered a very dynamic consultant in Gastroenterology who convinced me to do a dissertation for an MD on radiation induced proctosigmoiditis and novel treatments. This led to the development of rectal sucralfate enemas in the treatment of this condition, and to a major publication which was referenced in Sleisenger’s Textbook of Gastroenterology. This was the catalyst for my interest in Gastroenterology and led to a Fellowship in Gastroenterology. I always wanted to specialise in a field that was dominated by technology and hands-on work. So Cardiology and Gastroenterology were the obvious choices but I chose Gastroenterology after being allowed to handle the long black instrument which could do the “Indian snake trick”. Endoscopy fascinated me then and still does. I had some of the most fantastic and renowned mentors in India and the UK (Professor JB Dilawari, the first person to carry out ERCP in India, Professor Derek Jewell at Oxford, Professor Laurence Lovat at UCL) who challenged me to excel and also provided me the opportunities to get “high” on academic gastroenterology.
What advancement in gastroenterology/hepatology are you most excited about and why?
The most exciting advancement in Gastroenterology and in particular in Inflammatory Bowel Disease in the last few years has been the development of the Gut Microbiome. It promises to provide a clue to the development of Crohn’s and colitis and understanding of flares and some therapeutic targets. It may also give a better understanding of other diseases such as IBD and NAFLD, and even cancer. In endoscopy, the most exciting advancement is the development of Artificial Intelligence which will improve diagnosis of early GI neoplasia, and hopefully will remove the inequities of endoscopic skills between centres of excellence and usual NHS hospitals.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
The opportunity to lead an award-winning team of motivated, committed and hardworking individuals from medical, nursing, research and trainee fields makes it very satisfying to come to work every day. Our IBD team has innovated and improved patient care constantly over the last 10 years, and I am indeed very lucky to have them. In endoscopy, we have been lucky to receive support to bring in technology that is often rarely found in non-teaching hospitals – we are one of the few Barrett’s RFA Centres in a Foundation trust hospital. Collaboration with colleagues around the country is a privilege that I am very grateful for.
What is the one thing you would change?
The one thing that I would change, if I could, is to stop doing General Medicine as a Gastroenterologist. It is the only way we will have the time to do our job better and develop the speciality to match up to our European colleagues.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given in your career?
Professor Jewell always told me to think about the patient and not the scan, in every decision-making algorithm, and that one piece of advice has always helped me make the right decision for treating complex patients.
What does being a BSG member mean to you?
The BSG membership has given me life changing opportunities as an immigrant gastroenterology trainee and young consultant, and I am indebted to the BSG for providing me with a travelling endoscopy fellowship to MUCS Charleston to spend some time with Peter Cotton, and to National Cancer Centre Tokyo. Getting to know colleagues across the UK through the BSG membership has given me enormous opportunities for research collaborations over the last 2 decades.