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Observations BMJ Confidential

Patrick Morrison: An aspiring lumberjack

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 06 May 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2304


Patrick Morrison, 51, is consultant clinical geneticist at Belfast City Hospital with wide clinical and research interests including Huntington’s disease and the genetics of breast, ovarian, colon, and renal cancer. The oldest patient in whom he helped make a diagnosis was the famous 18th century Irish giant Charles Byrne, whose skeleton resides in the Hunterian Museum in London. Morrison helped diagnose Byrne’s condition as familial pituitary adenoma from a mutation in the AIP gene, and the research led to a blood test for detection and early treatment of people carrying the gene. Morrison also led the Northern Ireland leg of the study that showed aspirin to be protective against colon cancer.

What was your earliest ambition?

To be a scientist. My Sunday school teacher was a professor of polymer chemistry and encouraged me to do a medical degree, as he said that I could then experiment on humans as well as animals. It was good advice.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My father—his professional motto was dictum meum pactum (my word is my bond), so I’ve stuck to the same motto. If I say that I’ll do it, then I’ll do it.

What was the worst mistake in your career?

As a trainee I gave a …

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