August 2010 Mentor of the Month Interview: Graham Beastall
Biography
  1. What is your job title and affiliation?
  2. Briefly tell us about your educational and career background
  3. What are your Board certifications?
  4. With which professional societies/organizations (e.g. AACC) are you involved?
  5. Just for fun, tell us a few interesting facts about yourself.
Career
  1. What area(s) do you specialize in?
  2. What initiated your interest in this (these) area(s) and how did you eventually choose this (these) area(s) for your career?
  3. What are your clinical and research interests?
  4. What, in your opinion, has been the most important contribution you have made to the field of laboratory medicine?
  5. Are there specific aspects of practicing laboratory medicine that you find unappealing?
  6. What were some of the most rewarding and/or challenging moments of your career?
  7. How would you recommend achieving an optimal work/life balance?
  8. What excites you about practicing laboratory medicine everyday?
  9. What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
  10. What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
  11. What specific goals would you recommend that young scientists in your discipline set for themselves? Any suggestions on how to achieve them?
  12. Describe how you have been able to give back or contribute to the organizations and the profession in general through your involvement in AACC.
  13. How did you get started in these organizations and what advice do you have for young people wanting to get involved?
  14. Do you have any other specific comments or advice that you like to provide to the members of SYCL?
Biography
  1. What is your job title and affiliation?
    • Until 2009 I was Consultant Clinical Scientist and Clinical Lead for the multi-site network Department of Clinical Biochemistry in North Glasgow, Scotland, UK
    • Currently I am:
      • Professional Adviser on Laboratory Medicine to the UK Department of Health (0.4wte)
      • President of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry & Laboratory Medicine (IFCC) (voluntary)
      • Senior Clinical Lecturer, University of Glasgow (honorary)
  2. Briefly tell us about your educational and career background.
    • Qualifications:
      • 1965-68 BSc in Biochemistry (University of Liverpool)
      • 1968-71 PhD in Steroid Biochemistry (University of Liverpool)
      • 1982 Membership of the Royal College of Pathologists in Clinical Biochemistry – upgraded to Fellowship in 1990
      • 2005 Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeon of Glasgow
    • Employment:
      • 1971-72 Lecturer in Biochemistry (University of Liverpool)
      • 1972-76 Lecturer in Steroid Biochemistry (University of Glasgow)
      • 1976-81 Principal Clinical Biochemist (Glasgow Royal Infirmary)
      • 1981-2009 Consultant Clinical Biochemist (Glasgow Royal Infirmary)
  3. What are your Board certifications?
    • Board certifications do not exist in the UK. My Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists in Clinical Biochemistry is the recognition of my specialization
    • In the UK and Europe we have registration schemes to demonstrate competence at high levels. I am registered as a:
      • Clinical Scientist (Health Professions Council)
      • Chartered Scientist (Science Council)
      • European Specialist in Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EC4)
  4. With which professional societies/organizations (e.g. AACC) are you involved?
    • Association for Clinical Biochemistry (Former Chair and President)
    • Royal College of Pathologists (Former Vice President)
    • British Thyroid Association (Former Treasurer)
    • Society for Endocrinology (Former Board Member)
    • AACC (Member of AMOC 2008, Washington)
    • IFCC (Current President)
  5. Just for fun, tell us a few interesting facts about yourself:
    • Family
      • Married to Judith (retired schoolteacher) for 38 years
      • Two sons, Richard (Accountant) and James (Orthopedic Surgeon)
      • One granddaughter, Lucy (born April 2010)
    • Favorite activities/hobbies
      • Involved in Scouting for over 50 years
      • Gardening
      • Supporting Liverpool Football Club
      • Hill walking
      • Listening to classical music
    • Favorite places you have traveled
      • Sydney, Australia
      • Hong Kong, China
      • Mexico City
      • Munich, Germany
      • Etc etc (I have visited >50 countries)
    • Favorite authors/movie
      • Ian Rankin
      • John Grisham
      • Bill Bryson
      • Notting Hill
      • Shawshank Redemption
      • Schindler’s List
    • Most fun/adventurous thing you’ve ever done
      • Climbed a mountain at midnight to see in the new millennium
      • Be at school with Paul McCartney 
Career
  1. What area(s) do you specialize in?
    • Biochemical endocrinology, especially thyroid and parathyroid
    • Evidence based laboratory medicine
  2. What initiated your interest in this (these) area(s) and how did you eventually choose this (these) area(s) for your career?
    • PhD in Steroid Biochemistry established the interest
    • Clinical need for quality assays to measure hormones
    • Good friends in clinical endocrinology
  3. What are your clinical and research interests?
    • Biochemical endocrinology, especially thyroid and parathyroid
    • Evidence based laboratory medicine
  4. What, in your opinion, has been the most important contribution you have made to the field of laboratory medicine?
    • Scientific: Discovering the diurnal rhythm of parathyroid hormone and the abnormalities that occur in disorders of bone metabolism, including osteoporosis. This provides the scientific basis for the therapeutic use of recombinant PTH
    • Political: Modernizing Scientific Careers – a UK government program to restructure careers, education and training for scientists in health care
  5. Are there specific aspects of practicing laboratory medicine that you find unappealing?
    Automation and informatics
  6. What were some of the most rewarding and/or challenging moments of your career?
    Rewarding
    • Having my first paper accepted for publication
    • Giving my first invited lecture
    • Proving scientific hypotheses
    • Being awarded a national honor by the Queen
    • Being elected President of IFCC
    Challenging
    • Balancing the departmental budget
    • Securing research funding
    • Dealing with staff disputes
  7. How would you recommend achieving an optimal work/life balance?
    • Work hard and play hard – don’t waste any precious time
    • Always put family first
    • Plan everything you do and audit whether it worked
    • Smile a lot
  8. What excites you about practicing laboratory medicine everyday?
    • 70% of clinical decisions are influenced by laboratory medicine. Therefore, we are important and what we do impacts on the lives of millions of patients every day
    • Meeting clinical and scientific colleagues and discussing projects and practices
  9. What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
    • New biomarkers for chronic disease management
    • Personalized medicine
    • More shared care, with patient’s self testing using POCT
    • More integrated diagnostics (laboratory medicine, imaging and endoscopy)
  10. What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
    • Getting noticed
    • Convincing employers that people are more important than machines
    • Undertaking meaningful research in the current financial climate
  11. What specific goals would you recommend that young scientists in your discipline set for themselves? Any suggestions on how to achieve them?
    Goals
    • Have a plan for your career
    • Make a difference to patients
    • Undertake research and publish in peer reviewed journals 
    • Become an expert in one area of laboratory medicine
    • Command the respect of your peers
    How to Achieve
    • Plan and evaluate as an everyday exercise
    • Read the scientific and clinical literature
    • Never be afraid to ask for advice
    • Network, especially with clinical colleague
    • Try to ‘add value’ so that you stand out from the crowd
    • Treat everyone with respect and listen to their point of view
    • Be active in a professional body
  12. Describe how you have been able to give back or contribute to the organizations and the profession in general through your involvement in AACC.
    • As a UK national my contribution to AACC has been limited to involvement in the 2008 AMOC. I am standing for election to the Nominating Committee in 2010. I always attend the AACC Annual Congress
    • I am passionate in my belief that professional bodies have a vital role to play in:
      • Shaping science, development and service delivery
      • Training the next generation
      • Influencing government, politicians and the media about the contribution of laboratory medicine to healthcare.
    • As my answer to Question 4 reveals I have been active in the work of several professional bodies
  13. How did you get started in these organizations and what advice do you have for young people wanting to get involved?
    How did I get started?
    • I volunteered to help with the organization of meetings at local level
    • Then I took on less glamorous jobs and delivered what was required
    • Then I put myself forward for election
    Advice for Young People
    • Don’t wait to be asked – it may never happen!
    • Volunteer to do jobs at a level befitting your career status
    • Deliver on everything you do – no matter how trivial
    • Be pleasant and courteous at all times
  14. Do you have any other specific comments or advice that you like to provide to the members of SYCL?
    • This is a great time to be a young scientist. The next two decades will see fantastic developments in science, technology and clinical practice. Always think positively and enjoy your career
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