Meet our President Professor Gisli Jenkins - an international leader in the field of pulmonary fibrosis and founding trustee of APF. This June we are absolutely delighted to welcome him as the first President of Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis.
Gisli is based at Imperial College, London where he leads the Margaret Turner Warwick Centre for Fibrosing Lung Diseases at the National Heart and Lung Institute.
Have you always wanted to work in respiratory medicine?
During my medical degree, I found respiratory medicine fascinating. It encompasses a diverse range of conditions that each generated its own set of diagnostic and management challenges. I did dabble with the idea of studying diabetes and endocrinology for a little while, but soon returned to respiratory medicine due to some personal experiences and meeting some inspirational leaders in the field.
What motivates and inspires you in your work?
Observing the hardships and struggle that patients go through every day and thinking I may be able to help that in some way motivates me to learn and understand, to look under every stone to find the answer to what is causing such a cruel disease. Seeing the resilience and fortitude of patients with pulmonary fibrosis and their families and carers inspires me to keep going when circumstances are challenging.
What’s your view on the role of medical research and pulmonary fibrosis?
It’s absolutely crucial if we are to find a cure. It’s the very first step in identifying biological pathways that may be amenable to being manipulated by drugs. This will change how disease cells and lungs respond to injury. Shifting the balance back towards repair and away from scarring. Ultimately it is very difficult to fix something if you don’t know why it has gone wrong
Do you think finding a cure for PF is realistic and if so, when?
I think finding a cure is realistic, but challenging. It’s also difficult to predict when, because many of these discoveries rely on either a chance finding or the accumulation of small bits of information that accelerate our understanding, ultimately leading to a step change. As Samuel Goldwyn famously said, ‘the harder I work, the luckier I get’ and so the more effort we put into finding a cure the more likely it is we will succeed.
As a founding trustee of APF – how do you feel about becoming their first President?
It is really humbling and a great honour to be the first President of APF. It is hard to explain how amazing it is to have been involved with an organisation as successful as APF. I remember at the meeting where we considered the possibility of forming a patient charity it just didn’t seem possible that it would grow into something this amazing. This has inspired me to believe in the aspirations of patients and I hope that together we will be able to find a cure for pulmonary fibrosis.
What do you enjoy when away from work?
Away from work I enjoy riding my bicycle and watching Tottenham Hotspur play football. Cycling gives me a time to reflect and see the world from a different perspective as well as allowing me to eat perhaps a little more cake and chocolate than I should. Supporting Tottenham over the years has helped me deal with disappointment and manage expectations at the same time as always believing that success is just around the corner.
This article was sourced from our APF Insider magazine, packed with free information to help you live well, stories from others living with pulmonary fibrosis, research news and updates from our community. Sign up to receive your own copy.