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News, anecdotes and pictures from across science and engineering at UCL


10 Questions

By ucqndko, on 16 January 2015

The Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IBME) interviews our researchers, academics, students, clinicians, affiliates and partners to find out a little more about who they are and what they do.

This month we speak to Professor Alister Hart, Chair of Academic Clinical Orthopaedics, UCL, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and Director of Research and Development, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, about his career, life and favourite pastimes.

1. What is your job title?

Chair of Academic Clinical Orthopaedics at UCL, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and Director of NHS Research and Development at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH).

2. What keywords would you pick to describe your work?

Orthopaedic implants, clinical outcome, imaging, blood metal biomarkers for implant function.

3. What brought you to the world of science/engineering/medical technologies/medicine?

I was first really inspired by science at school by my S-level chemistry teacher. I was introduced to the RNOH at around the same time when I used the RNOH library (I went to school locally in Watford) to research my biology A-level project, testing the strength of rat and rabbit tendons. Medicine became the only subject I wanted to do, and I always wanted to be a surgeon.

After school, I continued to be inspired by science via the small group supervision system provided by my Cambridge college, Gonville and Caius. This provided regular weekly discussions with world-leading medical researchers and scientists. The fellows at Caius included Sir Francis Crick, Prof Stephen Hawking, and the current master Professor Sir Alan Fersht (who also happens to now be my father-in law!) so the college had no difficulty in attracting the best teachers.

Interactive discussion of science continued during my MD, which I undertook whilst continuing in my training post as a specialist registrar in orthopaedic surgery. The direct relevance of my research to my clinical training enabled me to do both concurrently. I realised this was how I wanted to continue working throughout my career.

4. What is your favourite thing about your work?

Watching and encouraging the development of the young people in my research group.

5. What’s been your career highlight?

Publishing a paper in Nature when I was a SHO.

6. What is your favourite quote?

“I have not had time to prepare a short speech” by Winston Churchill.

7. Who has been your greatest mentor and why?

My wife. She is a cancer doctor at UCLH with a PhD and two young children. She keeps me grounded by telling me that a cancer diagnosis is much more devastating than arthritis, and academic orthopaedics is an oxymoron. She is much cleverer than me so I listen.

8. What do you do in your spare time?

I do whatever my wife tells me! Actually, I manage to sneak out to keep fit. In the last 3 years I have led expeditions in 5 continents, completed a quadrathlon, two road marathons (including NY), and two cross-country ski marathons.

9. What’s your favourite book at the moment?

How to make an impact by Jon Moon because my life is dominated by anything to do with getting my research ideas disseminated. One day I will return to stories of adventures in wild places.

10. If you had a superpower, what would it be and why?

My superpower would be grant-writing! Then I could spend more time doing sport.


Professor Alister J Hart is Chair of Academic Clinical Orthopaedics, UCL, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and Director of Research and Development, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, and Visiting Professor, Imperial College London. His interests focus on the achievement of the best possible patient and radiological outcomes after hip and knee replacement, through implant design, surgical positioning and patient factors. He is co-founder of the London Implant Retrieval Centre (LIRC) with John Skinner, and has published more than 70 papers, and performed more than 3000 operations including 750 primary or revision hip and knee replacements.

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