Like most of my colleagues, I took up science because I admired the lives and careers of people close to me.
My father is a pure mathematician, so I hated mathematics at school. However, I had two inspirational biology teachers in the fifth and sixth forms, who encouraged me to apply to medical school (without A-level mathematics). I then met Alec Turnbull and Anne Anderson, both now deceased, but both amazing people working in academic obstetrics.
They diverted me from medical school into an Oxford DPhil (PhD to the rest of the world), and then pushed me back into medicine when I planned a postdoctoral career. It was all downhill from then on. The DPhil was the hardest thing I have done academically, and it equipped me to converse with ‘real’ scientists, while working in clinical research and practice.
I am greatly saddened by the lack of flexibility in the current system. Today, I would probably would not be allowed to follow the path that I took. And I feel that many bright young clinicians will fail to develop scientifically, because of the rigidity and lack of imagination shown by non-clinically active university administrators. Science and medicine can mix – it just takes a few inspirational leaders.
William Ledger is coeditor of Drug Therapy in Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)), and Inhibin, Activin and Follistatin in Human Reproductive Physiology (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)). See his website.