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Report of the General Board on the establishment of a Professorship of Gastroenterology

The GENERAL BOARD beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. Diseases of the gastrointestinal and hepatobiliary systems are major causes of morbidity, both in the UK and worldwide. Gastroenterology is the medical speciality which deals with diseases of the entire gastrointestinal tract (oesophagus, stomach, ileum, and colon) whilst hepatology deals with diseases of the liver and biliary tract. Historically the two specialisms have always been closely associated and, although hepatology is now established as a distinct speciality, the two subjects still have joint higher clinical training programmes and a number of specialist procedures remain common to both. In addition, certain areas of research in gastroenterology and hepatology fall within the School of Clinical Medicine's main research priorities in the fields of cancer, genetics, and infection and immunity. These include inflammatory bowel disease, which is recognized to have major genetic and immunological components to its aetiology, whilst the growth of research interests in epithelial biology, particularly developments in cancer research, would support research into bowel disease, especially colon cancer. Functional bowel disorders have a probable neuro or neuro-endocrine basis and this has become a major focus of research for the pharmaceutical industry: the potential for collaboration exists through the presence of GlaxoSmithKline within the Addenbrooke's Centre for Clinical Investigation. Also, the MRC Dunn Unit, which has had a longstanding interest in nutrition, is sited within the new Wellcome/MRC Building and its associated MRC Nutrition Resource Centre provides strong potential for collaborative research on human nutrition in the context of gastroenterology. Clinically important areas of hepatology also provide opportunities for research developments, arising both from existing work on the Addenbrooke's Site, and from collaboration with certain Departments within the School of the Biological Sciences. Particular areas of interest are virus hepatitis and mechanisms which cause progressive liver fibrosis and end-stage liver disease.

2. Opportunities for the development of major scientific programmes are therefore available, in conjunction with the predominantly clinical research programmes running in Departments. In addition to these research strengths, the Department of Medicine is responsible for delivering components of the clinical course leading to Part III(a) of the Final M.B., B.Chir. Degree, for the teaching and training of doctors, pre- and post- GMC registration, under the NHS programmes, and for participating in and delivering continuing professional medical education and development. Gastroenterology is an area of importance within the general field of internal medicine and the Faculty Board of Clinical Medicine are of the view that there is an urgent need to enhance clinical undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in this area.

3. At present, there are three consultant posts each in gastroenterology and hepatology (one originally funded through the University under the HEFCE NASCA scheme). These posts are now all funded by the NHS. Historically, gastroenterology and hepatology have been significantly understaffed at consultant level within Addenbrooke's Hospital, with a conservative estimate suggesting a minimum of four staff at this level, particularly as Addenbrooke's is a centre for small bowel transplantation. In hepatology, where Addenbrooke's is one of five national centres which undertake liver transplantation, all the other centres have at least four hepatologists. There is currently no established academic post in gastroenterology or hepatology within the University, and it remains the only specialty area in the Department of Medicine in such a position.

4. Against this background of the importance of gastroenterology and hepatology to the service work of Addenbrooke's NHS Trust Hospital, and the excellent research opportunities that now exist, the Faculty Board of Clinical Medicine have advised the General Board that a senior academic appointment, at the professorial level, is now essential. The Professor would be expected to provide leadership for a programme of research in gastroenterology and thereby enhance the flow of research income to the University. The Professor would also be expected to offer postgraduate teaching and to contribute to undergraduate teaching programmes. Funds have been made available by the Addenbrooke's NHS Trust to meet the full cost of the Professorship, at consultant level, for a single tenure, and also to cover essential secretarial and technical support and non-pay expenditure associated with the Professorship for both NHS and academic duties. In the event of any shortfall in this NHS funding, the Faculty Board have agreed to meet the full cost of the office from within their existing resources. The Addenbrooke's NHS Trust has agreed to award an honorary consultant contract to the Professor and to provide full access to appropriate clinical facilities. The Faculty Board have assured the General Board that suitable accommodation is available for the Professor.

5. The General Board have accepted the case made by the Faculty Board; they are assured that the Professorship will attract a strong field of well-qualified candidates; they have agreed to concur in the view of the Faculty Board that an election to the Professorship should be made by an ad hoc Board of Electors, and that candidature should be open without limitation or preference to all persons whose work falls within the general field of the title of the office.

6. The General Board accordingly recommend:

That a Professorship of Gastroenterology be established for one tenure from 1 June 2003, placed in Schedule B of the Statutes, and assigned to the Department of Medicine.

12 February 2003 ALEC N. BROERS, Vice-ChancellorM. J. DAUNTONA. C. MINSON

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Cambridge University Reporter, 26 February 2003
Copyright © 2002 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.