Tamzin Cuming’s career has moved between medicine and literature. As a consultant surgeon specialising in anal disease, her work takes place at a point of intersection between fields of expertise. Her clinical experience has been shaped by a longstanding fascination with literature and the humanities.
Dr John Launer has many strands to his career. A general practitioner, a specialist in family therapy and a prolific author, John approaches conversation from multiple perspectives. His model of interactional skills - ‘Conversations Inviting Change’ - draws on his lifelong experience as a clinician. In this podcast we compare notes from our own experiences of medicine and writing.
Micky Astor has many strings to his bow. He trained as an engineer, joining an arctic expedition sailing the North West Passage in an umiak before switching to parallel careers in financial services and farming. A gifted jazz musician and a keen sportsman, Micky is fascinated by intersections between different kinds of performance. In this podcast we compare notes from our different perspectives, exploring similarities and differences between surgery, jazz and aviation.
Hans Johannsson is one of Iceland’s most distinguished luthiers. He has been making violins, cellos and double basses for over 40 years. This conversation, recorded in Reykjavik at the 2017 International Symposium on Performance Science, explores the embodied ways of knowing on which violin-making and medicine both depend. In it we uncover unexpected intersections between science, art and craftsmanship.
Chris Nichols’ career has included extended periods in the civil service, investment banking, an academic position at Ashridge Business School, individual and organisation coaching and now the independent company GameShift. He has played a ‘trickster’ role throughout, defying classification as he switches roles. In this conversation we explore areas of similarity between our apparently different perspectives, including simulation, careers that change direction and the respective roles of insider and outsider.
David Cotterrell is an installation artist whose work crosses many boundaries. Working all over the world, from Shanghai’s burgeoning cityscape to a military trauma unit at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, David defies traditional classification. He challenges himself and his ideas through a continual drive towards artistic discomfort. In this extended conversation recorded on David’s converted coal barge on the River Thames we explore how medicine and art can intersect in surprising ways.
The retired plastic and reconstructive surgeon Brian Morgan has combined a long clinical career with a lifelong fascination with sculpture, painting and playing the jazz trombone. In this conversation we discuss some challenges of steering a course between medicine and the arts, and explore the three dimensional thinking that plastic surgery demands.
Professor Misha Perouansky has developed parallel careers as an anaesthetist and an experimental neuroscientist. Multilingual in every sense of the word, his experience ranges widely across cultures and traditions. A passionate desire to interrogate his work deeply led led him into the history and philosophy of science. He is currently exploring responses to brain trauma through genetic research with fruit flies at his university of Madison, Wisconsin. In this conversation we explore our experiences of intersection between science and clinical practice.
Harrison Pearce is an artist and philosopher whose work brings together many interests and influences. Much of his artistic work is shaped and inspired by his fascination with analytical philosophy. In this discussion we explore how art, philosophy and medicine intersect in unexpected ways, and how conversation provides a framework for enquiry.
Dr Roberto Trotta is Reader in Astrophysics at Imperial College London and also directs Imperial’s Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication. His recent book The Edge of the Sky sets out to explain cosmology using only the most common thousand words in English - which do not include ‘universe’, ‘scientist’ or ‘telescope’. He is also exploring how we might use different senses to think about cosmology and describes his collaboration with leading chefs at Kitchen Theory around gastronomy for communicating complex ideas. In this podcast we discuss our ideas about communication and translation in science, medicine and the arts.
One of America’s most distinguished actors, Alan Alda is widely known for his roles as Captain Hawkeye Pierce in the American TV series M*A*S*H, as Arnold Vinick in The West Wing and for many films throughout his career. He has a longstanding fascination with science and for 14 years hosted the television show Scientific American Frontiers.
Alan brings these interests together to help scientists communicate about their work, drawing on techniques and insights from improvisational theatre. In this conversation, he and Roger discover unexpected parallels between their worlds and explore how communication underpins science, medicine and theatre.
Recorded in New York before the publication of Alan’s latest book If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face?, the podcast explores the inseparable nature of art, science and communication.
My friend and colleague Dr Steve Rowlands recently retired after spending much of his career as a general practitioner in Trowbridge, Wiltshire. Diagnosed a few years ago with a rare cancer in an even rarer form - mycosis fungoides, a cutaneous T-cell lymphoma - Steve’s condition remained quiescent for years but has suddenly flared up. Now affecting most of his skin, it is exceptionally painful and distressing. Steve is currently having experimental chemotherapy at Guy’s Hospital. Drawing on our personal experience of serious illness, we discuss how being a doctor can help and hinder coping with disease.
Since recording this podcast, Steve’s funding for the next stage of his treatment has been confirmed.
Steve died at home on 17 November 2017.
Monica Carbone’s first language is Italian. Equally at home in English and French, Monica is a leading simultaneous and consecutive interpreter who works across multiple domains of expert practice and has a special interest in medical simulation. Based on Roger’s recent experience of leading a three day workshop in Sardinia at the invitation of the Sardinian Ministry of Health and interpreted by Monica, this conversation explores resonances between conference interpretation and the clinical consultation.
Adam Rutherford is a geneticist, science writer and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science. An editor at the science journal Nature for many years, Adam crosses boundaries between science, journalism and the media.
Clare Matterson played a leading role at the Wellcome Trust for 18 years, most recently as Director of Strategy. She was responsible for some of Wellcome’s most spectacular innovations around engagement - founding the Wellcome Collection, transforming the Wellcome Library, establishing the National STEM Learning Centre in York and leading the Our Planet, Our Health programme.
At various points in his career Ed has been a commodities broker, a professional street juggler and an executive coach with a special interest in leadership, motivation and productivity. He is Co-founder and Senior Partner of Next Action Associates. An accomplished linguist, he is at home in multiple cultures. The conversation ranges widely across our shared interests.
Rachel Warr is a dancer, dramaturg, theatre director, puppeteer and puppet maker who uses puppetry in innovative ways. In this podcast we discuss puppetry and surgery as instances of performance where participants have to read and respond to one another’s bodies as they perform.
Magdalena Bak-Maier is a neuroscientist, educator, writer and coach. In our conversation we explore the idea of coaching and discuss its parallels with the clinical consultation and other forms of encounter.
The jazz pianist Liam Noble and I explore how improvisation and creativity are as important in the operating theatre and the medical consulting room as on the stage of a jazz venue.
Piers Plowright was a highly respected BBC radio producer between 1968 and 1997. A pioneer of radio drama and documentary, Piers has won numerous plaudits and awards. In this podcast we explore the idea of conversation.
Daniel Glaser is a neuroscientist and the Director of Science Gallery London. Before moving to King’s College he was Director of Engaging Science at the Wellcome Trust. He writes widely, has a regular column in The Guardian and was one of the judges for the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.
The distinguished harpsichordist Sophie Yates is well known for her interpretations of early keyboard music, through live performances, radio and recordings. Sophie combines an explorer’s fascination for finding new repertoire with a passion for teaching and for performance. In this conversation we find unexpected similarities between music and medicine.
Alex Julyan is a visual artist and creative producer, responsible amongst many things for the official opening event of the Crick Institute. She’s also a Welcome Trust Engagement Fellow. I first encountered her work through Lost in Translation, a collaboration with a musician in Zurich which explored how two people in different places negotiated issues of drawing and description.
Plucked string instruments run through Bill Badley’s career. As a lutenist he founded and toured with the Dufay Collective, a mediaeval ensemble. Fascinated by the music and cultures of the Arab world - especially the oud, forerunner of the European lute - he travelled extensively in the countries of the Middle East. Bill has worked in theatre, film and television as a documentary maker and producer. In a further career switch, he is now teaching children and young people.
Fleur Oakes is one of the UK’s leading needle lace makers. We discuss her path from art school to fashion design, and from being a bespoke corset-maker to becoming entranced by the beauty and precision of lace. Fleur’s work is inspired by natural forms, and now she is lace-maker in residence in the vascular surgery unit at St Mary’s Hospital in London.