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I recently resigned from my post as Centenary Professor in the Department of Regenerative Medicine and Translational Science. I was an employee of the Government of West Bengal and basically I am no longer a good servant. I cross the line and speak out. What is illegal, immoral and unethical is illegal, immoral and unethical. I wrote a letter of resignation that outlined some serious problems but I gave the simple solutions. Solutions are in short supply in humanity but I am a ‘solutions person’. But there was more. Without going into the rather complex background of the Department and its administration let me say that I was astonished by the manipulative dishonesty and psychological harassment of some of the junior students by a small minority of senior students. I have never witnessed such bullying in the field of tertiary education. And so when I was invited to give a lecture at another college in a symposium focussing on the Molecular basis of Human Disease I introduced the theme of my talk by recalling a quote from many centuries ago: “manners mayketh man”. These ill-mannered students are a disgrace to themselves, to science but also to the Department. But why do they survive?
So I am starting anew at 63 and we shall see what can be achieved when you know no fear. This is not a foolish state it is a concept regarding freedom and truth.
I will share many stories over the course of this series of blogs, but I will start with my abstract for the meeting in Serampore College. This is a Christian College founded in 1818 in the Danish protectorate. It was a wonderful meeting, and the best I have ever attended in India with relation to timing. And the students were beautifully mannered and gracious. See the pictures below and here is the abstract:
Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa
“Manners makyth man” is a famous quotation attributed to William of Wykeham, founder of New College and Winchester College, Oxford. This motto is as relevant today as it was in 1379 when New College was founded. It makes a social statement that humanity should not be judged by birth, wealth, culture or creed but how people behave with respect, honesty and dignity with each other. ‘Manners’ reflect a complex interaction of deed and intent which are a function and expression of the maturity and integrity of an individual in a socially cohesive group. Today we focus, not on manners, but on molecules. Molecules are the smallest, functional chemical units found in the human body. In health, the function and the form of molecules reflect the health and integrity of the individual. As bad manners can wreak havoc in the social system, so bad molecules can wreak havoc in the physiological system. The molecule I wish to address today is one of the specific collagen molecules, Type VII collagen. Type VII collagen is a key element of nature’s “Velcro” forming the dermo-epidermal junction. When Type VII collagen is faulty, the epidermis no longer has a robust and functional attachment to the dermis. The result is nature’s cruellest genetically determined disease of the skin, Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (RDEB). In this presentation I shall look at the clinical manifestation of this disease and the interface between science and medicine.
The translation from bench to bedside and from bedside to bench reflects the challenges and limitations of Regenerative Medicine and Translational Science and underlines the key role the Clinical Scientist must play in alleviating human suffering and disease.
Former Centenary Professor,
Department of Regenerative Medicine and Translational Science,
Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine;
Professorof Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery,
The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Rtd).