Professor Chris Hawkey
Professor Chris Hawkey, University of Nottingham
Christopher Hawkey is the Co-Chairperson of Guts UK. He is Professor of Gastroenterology at the Nottingham Digestive Diseases Centre. His ground-breaking research has covered many areas of gastroenterology and he is still involved in research today, despite slowly trying to edge into retirement in Wales.
His work has helped understand the damage that some medications, such as aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can do to the gastrointestinal tract. He has also done extensive work on inflammatory bowel disease, where he pioneered the development of a treatment known as stem-cell transplantation for people with Crohn’s disease.
In both areas his approach has been to try to identify interesting findings in small exploratory studies first and then evaluate those findings in large studies. An example is the ongoing Helicobacter Eradication Aspirin Trial (HEAT). This is a large clinical trial carried out on people who take aspirin regularly, a common and increasing occurrence especially in the elderly. Professor Hawkey and his team believe the bleeding from a stomach ulcer – a side effect of regular aspirin use – can be prevented if users are treated to remove an infection with a type of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori, which is a frequent cause of ulcers.
Professor Hawkey has been extremely influential among other gastroenterologists and a key shaper of one of the most prestigious scientific conferences in the discipline. He has masterminded successful initiatives to promote young gastroenterologists, such as the Summer School, the Rising Star Award and the Young Investigator’ Programme.
He has also regularly campaigned for greater awareness of the dangers of obesity and alcohol while president of the British Society of Gastroenterology, saying alcohol is more pernicious than smoking.
Professor Chris Hawkey was one of the investigators featured in a directory of Britain’s top doctors, published by The Times magazine in 2010. The Times Medical Correspondent Dr Mark Porter said: “Over the past six months a team of Times researchers asked charities, specialists and professional bodies and associations to come up with a list of leaders in their particular field. Some names appeared on everyone’s lists and it is these names that we have recommended … they are not just extraordinary The doctors, but extraordinary people.”