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Championing the champion

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b2468 (Published 24 June 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b2468
  1. Geoff Watts
  1. 1London

    At 71 some doctors might be thinking about retirement. Not so George Alberti, former president of the Royal College of Physicians and newly appointed champion on violence against women. Geoff Watts talks to him

    “A sort of Geordie lad,” one longstanding colleague described him. “And a man who doesn’t mince his words—occasionally to his disadvantage.” From a sometime junior comes an even more direct comment: “There’s no bullshit with George. He likes pricking bubbles. A man who’s unimpressed by pretension.”

    While it might be difficult to be on the receiving end of such straight talking, these qualities have served the Geordie George in question, Professor George Alberti, amply: he has held professorial chairs, led national and international bodies, been president of the Royal College of Physicians, and been crowned as a medical tsar. And, at 71, the long march continues with his recent appointment to lead a task force on violence against women.

    Geordie lad he may be, but it’s not exactly in the genes. The Albertis (not, as I’d wrongly assumed, a product of Italian ancestry) are actually German Jewish by origin; the name, for reasons that remain obscure, was picked by a great grandmother. Nor was the choice of medicine a familial one. “It was the influence of our local GP when I was 6 and had decided that driving a dustbin van was not going to bring in a great deal of money, although it would be a lot of fun.” The Royal Grammar School in Newcastle …

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