Regius Professor of Clinical Surgery O James Garden undertook the first successful liver transplant in Scotland and is now leading the establishment of a new institute for Edinburgh Anatomy.
Olivier James Garden
BSc (Med Sci), MBChB, MD
|Year of Graduation||
1974, 1977, 1987
Your time at the University
Having been brought up in Lanarkshire, there was a tradition in our school to go to university in Glasgow but I elected to come to Edinburgh. My father was a well known orthopaedic surgeon in the West of Scotland medical community and had gone to Glasgow University but I just thought that Edinburgh seemed a much more attractive environment to study with an amazing history and tradition in medicine.
My six-year course had three pre-clinical years before substantial contact with patients, a far cry from current medical student experience. Practical classes and laboratories in the applied medical sciences were a highlight but it was the clinical lectures and direct consultant involvement in ward based teaching from the 4th year that excited me. There seemed countless opportunities to gain additional clinical and practical experience at weekends and evenings, not something that seems to find huge favour with current undergraduates!
It is difficult not to retain a fondness for and loyalty to Edinburgh Medical School. It was extremely sociable and there was then, and still is, a definite identity in being an Edinburgh Medical graduate.
My father was a well known orthopaedic surgeon in the West of Scotland medical community and had gone to Glasgow University but I just thought that Edinburgh seemed a much more attractive environment to study with an amazing history and tradition in medicine.
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University
After house jobs in the Royal Infirmary, I taught anatomy for a year before undertaking my surgical training in Glasgow. That was not the accepted route for an aspiring Edinburgh surgeon at the time but I was well supported in moving into an academic career that has allowed me wider opportunity than I might otherwise have had. I spent a year training in liver surgery in Paris before returning to Edinburgh as a senior lecturer in 1988.
Over the last 26 years, I have helped develop a specialist surgical service in liver and pancreatic surgery, and undertook the first successful liver transplant in Scotland in November 2002. One of the great things about an academic career is the possibility of focusing on different areas at different times. Since my appointment to the Regius Chair of Clinical Surgery, I have helped lead the establishment of specialist surgical services in Edinburgh, produced a fertile environment for young aspiring academic surgeons and led the development of the highly successful surgical distance learning masters programmes.
The Edinburgh Surgical Sciences Qualifications have brought two ancient, previous rival, institutions together (the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the University), allowed the expansion of academic surgery and delivered recognition through the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education this year! I am currently leading the establishment of a new institute for Edinburgh Anatomy and our Surgical Sciences Programmes beside the Royal College of Surgeons.
Make the most of the tremendous opportunities that are available in Edinburgh and be proud of your heritage. Edinburgh medical School has been good for me and for the 1977 MB ChB year.