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A Tribute to Professor John Walker-Smith, ESPGHAN Editor 1995-2000

Walker, W. Allan MD

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: November 1999 - Volume 29 - Issue 5 - p 14A


With this issue of the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Professor John Walker-Smith retires as the ESPGHAN Editor, a position he has held with distinction since 1995. As the continuing NASPGN Editor, I wish to pay tribute to John for his many contributions to the journal over this period of time and his accomplishments in the field of pediatric gastroenterology in general. During his tenure as Editor, many successful innovations have started that (in my view) have raised the quality of the journal to a new level. In January of 1997, a photograph from an article in each issue was printed as part of a new cover design. Response from our readership was universally positive. During the next 2 years, a Clinical Quiz section was started and the abstract for original articles was changed in design to represent a complete summation of the article with key words and references enclosed. In a questionnaire to the NASPGN readership last year, these changes were approved by a large percentage of the respondents. John, with a strong interest in medical history, initiated a "Historic Notes" section that has informed our young readership of major events that have helped to shape our subspecialty. Recently, a "News and Views" section was started to inform our readership quickly of events worldwide that affect the care of children with gastrointestinal problems. John, it has been a genuine pleasure working with you and your Associate Editors, Alan Phillips, Simon Murch, Deirdre Kelly, and Ian Sanderson, although I have to claim some credit for Ian because he started as a NASPGN Associate Editor before moving back to the United Kingdom.

Recently, John informed me of his intent to retire from the Chair in Pediatric Gastroenterology at the Royal Free Hospital, University of London next September in order to spend more time with his beloved family and to pursue his passion for the history of medicine (he is already Society of Apothecaries Lecturer in Medical History at the University of London). With that news, I thought it would be an appropriate occasion to reflect on John Walker-Smith's contributions to the field of pediatric gastroenterology. John began his training in adult gastroenterology as a House Physician to Professor Chris Booth at Hammersmith Hospital in the United Kingdom after medical school and pediatric training in his native Australia in the early 1960s. With this clinical background, he continued his training as a Research Fellow in Gastroenterology at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney and with Professor Prader in Zurich, Switzerland. He then began his academic career in the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Sydney, attaining a position of Staff Physician before returning to the United Kingdom to establish one of the most prestigious training programs in pediatric gastroenterology history at the Medical College of St. Bartholomew's Hospital and the London Hospital Medical College at Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children in 1973. From that time until the present, John has established himself as one of the premier, if not the premier, pediatric gastroenterologist in the world with a personal Chair in Pediatric Gastroenterology at St. Bartholomew's and, since 1995, at the Royal Free Hospital. His abilities as a clinician, clinical investigator, and educator through lectures, review articles, and textbooks have resulted in a worldwide following by former fellows, colleagues, and general pediatricians. Having been with John at meetings on numerous occasions around the world, I never cease to wonder at former fellows in the host country of the meeting wishing to spend time with their former mentor. John, you have contributed a great deal to the development and continued excellence of our field. We owe you a sincere debt of gratitude. We wish you well in your adventure as the Society of Apothecaries Lecturer in History of Medicine. Maybe we can convince you to write the definitive history of pediatric gastroenterology as a future assignment. With deep respect-

W. Allan Walker, MD


© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.