Jane Smith has been making hats for over forty years, working with some of the country’s leading actors, directors and designers in film and theatre. In this podcast we explore how theatrical hat-making demands detailed knowledge, three-dimensional thinking, craftsmanship and the ability to improvise under pressure - characteristics of clinical practice too.
Actor and voice coach Caroline Kilpatrick and I explore how good actors ‘don’t know what they are going to say’ until they say it, even though they have learned the words they will speak. In the conversation we exchange our perspectives on the voice in the consulting room and on the stage, discussing the roles of emotion and empathy in drama and clinical practice.
John Selborne has many roles, including apple farmer, Fellow of the Royal Society, past chairman of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee and current chairman of the Foundation for Science and Technology. In this conversation we discuss what it is to lead discussions with disparate groups of experts and the value of asking the ‘idiot question’
Valerie Jamieson initially trained as a particle physicist. As a postdoctoral scientist she became fascinated by the challenges of explaining science to those outside her field. Her career moved into science journalism, and for the past fifteen years she has been at New Scientist. She now leads New Scientist Live, a major annual event in London which brings together scientists from every field with members of the public to explore the excitement and curiosity of discovery. In this podcast we discuss similarities and differences between our approaches to communication and engagement.
Isabella Kokum studied gilding and frame conservation in Switzerland before going to America to train in classical ballet and modern dance. A gifted artist whose work defies orthodox disciplinary distinctions, Isabella’s expertise in wood-carving, ceramics and frame-making underpins her work at the National Gallery and beyond.
Phil Abel studied biology at university. After reading Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance he underwent a radical change in direction, becoming one of the country’s leading letterpress printers and establishing Hand & Eye Letterpress. More recently he has been Master of the Art Workers Guild. In this conversation we discuss similarities and differences between our experiences and explore issues of craftsmanship and embodied knowing.
Anna Harris became a medical anthropologist after an initial career as a clinical doctor. She brings multiple perspectives to bear on her ethnographic studies of medical practice and her current focus on the role of materials and the senses in the learning of clinical skills. In this conversation we discuss what it means to ‘become’ a clinician or an anthropologist, and how an interest in embodied knowing and the senses can shed light on learning and expert practice.
James Kinross combines his career as a consultant surgeon in a London teaching hospital with groundbreaking biological research at Imperial College London. In this conversation we explore how working across such different areas of expert practice requires fluency in the ‘languages’ of science, medicine and patient care.
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.