Observations BMJ Confidential

Robin Ferner: A weakness for bad jokes

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i67 (Published 27 January 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i67


Robin Ferner graduated in chemistry at University College London and returned a few years later to qualify in medicine. As a consultant in clinical pharmacology at City Hospital in Birmingham and director of the West Midlands Centre for Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting, he neatly combines the two. His research interests are the harms from medicines and how to prevent them. In the Christmas 2013 edition of The BMJ, he and Jeff Aronson reported that even laughter has its harms1: of 785 studies, 85 showed benefits and 114 showed harms, including ruptures, hernias, jaw dislocation, and giggle incontinence. “None was particularly amusing,” the Sun reported.

What was your earliest ambition?

To own a Meccano set, preferably one so grand that my twin brother and I could build the model block lifting crane on the brochure. We were given a set, but we never made that crane: it seems that even the biggest set (the fabulous and unattainable No 10, in a wooden chest) would not have had enough …

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