CEO Blog : It’s all about the vision


“The Surgeon’s Penis” is the title of a chapter in the biography of John Hunter.

I happened to be reading this part of the book on the tube one day when all of a sudden, I realised the passenger sitting to my left was reading my book too. She looked rather baffled and disgusted as she gave a good old English ‘tut’ and deliberately moved a few seats away.

Pity, if she’d stuck around she might have learned a thing or two.

John Hunter was a bloody legend.

Here’s my quick low down on why:

  • He is the founder of modern scientific surgery
  • He paved the way for Darwin’s theory of evolution
  • He laid the foundations for the standard resuscitation procedures
  • He helped start the Veterinary College of London
  • He trained Edward Jenner – the man who would go on to discover the smallpox vaccine and who is attributed to “saving more lives than any other human”

He also used to ride a self-made chariot driven by wild buffalo from his “countryside” estate in Earls Court into central London.

All this before his death in 1793.

But it is his legacy that continues to motivate and influence surgeons and scientists today that is perhaps his biggest success:

“His approach – trying a traditional method, analysing his outcomes, forming a hypothesis aimed at improvement and implementing his results – would ultimately form the foundation for his scientific revolution of surgery”  1

From all accounts, he was a man with a vision and someone who stopped at nothing in order to attempt to achieve it.

Through all his weird and wonderful experiments, his enormous collection of human and animal parts pickled in jars and the many hundreds of scientific papers that he wrote – apparently, his ultimate mission was to defeat mortality and secure eternal life.

I think if he had worked this one out – he would still be alive today.

He obviously thought big but went about it in a thoroughly precise and scientific manner.

We can learn a lot from John Hunter.

At BDRF we have a big and bold vision – just like Hunter

Our vision is a world where bowel disease is eradicated.

It’s a bold and also ambitious vision – and quite rightly so. We want to engage people in our vision so they will join us on our quest and help us achieve our goals.

Like a mountaineer setting out at the foot of a mountain – we know where we want to get to but at the moment we don’t have the complete map of how we are going to get there.

What we do know is that we are most likely to succeed in meeting our vision through the application and funding of medical research.

Working with the top medical research scientists across Great Britain and Ireland and now also collaborating with their colleagues across the globe, BDRF is in a great position to one day make our vision a reality.

Recently we have approved funding for the final two parts of the second round of the Delphi project. All in all, over the past two years we have approved funding for over £400k worth of research projects.

Ensuring that one day nobody suffers from a problem with their bowels is really what we want to achieve.

That nobody has the fear that their child will inherit their bowel problems is another goal of ours.

Hearing the words “I’m sorry but you have bowel cancer” will not be something anybody has to face hearing their Doctor say.

Our vision will be achieved through the experts working in the field of bowel disease – maybe not tomorrow, maybe not in the next 50 years – but we don’t think it out of the question to believe it can happen one day.

In the meantime, our research will help to ensure that today’s patients and tomorrow’s will receive the best treatment and we’ll work tirelessly to push boundaries in innovation and help improve clinical outcomes.

But we do need your help.

We’ll help to ensure the best scientists get the best resources in order to carry out the best research.

We’re just about to embark on an exciting global prioritisation exercise to help set the research agenda for bowel disease over the next few years with some of the best minds working in the field on the planet.

More about this revolutionary piece of work in the coming months.

I hope John Hunter would have been pleased with the progress his modern day counterparts are making.

Please help us to help fuel this ambition and meet our vision of eradicating bowel disease.

I’m off back home, just near the now not so countryside area of Earls Court – no buffalo driven chariot for me but perchance to dream – be far more exciting than the Piccadilly Line.

(1) “The Knife Man” Wendy Moore

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