Listen and Learn from Patients:
An interview with Professor Newell-Price, new President-elect at The Endocrine Society
“Trained by Titans of Clinical Endocrinology”
The Endocrine Society has named John as its 2024–2025 President – the first non-US-based President ever to be elected in the 106 years of the Society. He will take up his role as President-Elect at ENDO 2023. He tells us about his career, his aims as President, and his advice for aspiring endocrinologists.
What first attracted you to work in endocrinology?
Even as a medical student, I was fascinated by endocrinology, the interplay between hormones and the effect on human physiology – it all just made sense. Perhaps someone was also trying to tell me something, as the long case in my medical finals was a patient who had had Cushing’s disease and Nelson’s syndrome; in MRCP Part II it was a patient with a metastatic insulinoma; and my first case report as a Senior House Officer (SHO) was a patient with ectopic gastrin secretion from an ovarian carcinoma causing Zollinger–Ellison syndrome!
Please tell us about your career path to date
I spent my undergraduate years at Cambridge with clinical years at the London Hospital. After house jobs, I could not secure an SHO rotation and took a stand-alone six-month job at St Mark’s Hospital. While there, I presented the case report above, that I’d seen at St Mark’s, at the Barts Grand Round – and had what I can only describe as a thorough grilling from Mike Besser! The discussion was phenomenal and, afterwards, I deliberately targeted an SHO rotation that included Barts endocrinology for six months. I then spent an incredible seven heady years at Barts, working for and being trained by titans of clinical endocrinology to whom I remain deeply indebted: Mike Besser, John Wass, Ashley Grossman and John Monson. For three of those years, as an MRC Training Fellow for my PhD, I was in Adrian Clark’s phenomenal molecular biology lab. It was very hard work, but I learnt so much, and the friends and colleagues I trained with then are now some of the leaders in UK endocrinology.
As well as the exceptional training, I presented data at numerous national and international meetings, taught many medical students and loved it all! In 1999, I had another two years left of a lecturer’s contract when Tony Weetman and Richard Ross contacted me about whether I would be interested in moving to Sheffield. It was a risk, and as a family we had no ties to this part of the country, but we took a punt. I have now spent 23 fantastic years here in Sheffield working with Tony, Richard and others, and I am sure that you would not be interviewing me today had I not moved.
‘I aim to foster ever-closer working relationships with sister endocrine societies globally, champion those in the early stages of their careers…tackle pipeline issues for endocrinology, ensure basic scientists are valued within the Society, and ensure the patient voice is heard.’
Over that time, with fabulous and talented colleagues, I have aimed to build the endocrine service and research in Sheffield into the truly exceptional centre that it is currently, and worked at national and international levels in various bodies, where I felt that could make a difference. The Society for Endocrinology has been a wonderful national ‘home’, where I feel that I have been able to make useful contributions, with the Endocrine Society being my ‘international home’.
How did you first get involved with the Endocrine Society?
I attended my first ENDO meeting in Washington in 1995. I was completely blown away by the sheer range and scale of the meeting. There were many thousands of people, the clinical and science presentations and ‘Meet the Professor’ sessions were incredible and inspiring. The huge poster hall was a buzz of discussions – I had never experienced anything like it. I was presenting an oral communication on a study we had been doing on the use of desmopressin in the diagnosis of adrenocorticotrophin-dependent Cushing’s syndrome. It was pretty nerve-racking, especially as, at that time, it was uncommon for a non-US person to present data, and I was just a junior fellow and representing Barts. However, I had lots of support and interest, and it just fuelled a desire to pursue an academic career in endocrinology. Later on, I was asked to be involved in the Endocrine Society’s Clinical Practice Guidelines for Cushing’s syndrome that came out in 2008 and 2015, and also to be on the Annual Meeting Steering Committee for three years, where I became lead for pituitary and adrenal themes. Lynette Neiman then asked me to be the overall Chair of the ENDO meeting in Chicago in 2018 when she was President, which was a huge piece of work, but an amazing and rewarding experience. I have had many other roles for the Endocrine Society, including on the Governance Task Force and the Clinical Practice Guidelines Committee. Most recently, I have been on the Board of Directors for the last three years. It has been and is a privilege to work with the many super-smart friends, colleagues and staff.
What are you most looking forward to achieving as President?
Doing as much as I can to deliver on the mission of the Endocrine Society. I aim to foster ever-closer working relationships with sister endocrine societies globally, champion those in the early stages of their careers – the Society has phenomenal programmes available to members, tackle pipeline issues for endocrinology, ensure basic scientists are valued within the Society, and ensure the patient voice is heard.
What are the biggest challenges facing endocrinology?
For clinical endocrinology, there is the global issue of recruitment into the specialty that transcends national boundaries. There are many different potential drivers, and these vary by country, but we need to better understand the common themes and work together to find solutions. For basic scientists and clinical researchers, funding remains a significant issue, and lobbying is needed at the highest levels to represent endocrine research priorities.
What do you most enjoy about your work?
Working in teams to solve problems, be they at a clinical or research level, or at a structural level, for example in the University and in healthcare delivery or medical and postgraduate education.
What are your words of wisdom for aspiring endocrinologists?
Be curious and have great attention to detail, listen and learn from your patients and put them at the centre of what you do, and work with patient support groups. Treat your training as an apprenticeship and seek out the great units and people to work with, and be prepared to move cities and take risks. Look beyond local and national boundaries and join and contribute to societies such as the Endocrine Society, go to the annual ENDO meetings, and enjoy learning from and interacting with the global endocrine community.
Article taken from Society for Endocrinology