Doctor is pain medicine ‘visionary’ – CNN.com

| June 21, 2013 | 0 Comments

 

Dr. Garret FitzGerald

Philadelphia (CNN) — Dr. Garret FitzGerald’s career in medicine almost fell through because of a cockroach.

“He’s fearless, he’s passionate, he’s curious, visionary, very, very, collaborative, and most important, he’s very nurturing. In my opinion he’s the real deal,” Kaul said.

Beginnings

FitzGerald’s spacious office has a full view of the Philadelphia skyline, but his accent betrays his Irish origins. He grew up in Dublin during a time of austerity in the 1950s and ’60s.

He trained clinically in Dublin, but the institutions there didn’t have a lot of money for science. FitzGerald was interested in mechanisms, and wanted to work in laboratories, so he headed to London. He worked at what was then called the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, a pre-eminent spot for physician researchers in Europe. He also completed a master’s degree in statistics at the London School of Hygiene.

The late 1970s were a difficult time to be Irish in Britain, because of violent attacks by the Irish Republican Army. FitzGerald commonly heard Irish jokes as well as hostile comments.

“It taught me a little bit about being a despised minority, and gave me a certain empathy with people who have to fill that role in this country,” he said.

How aspirin works

FitzGerald fell into cardiovascular disease research without any personal connection to the subject. Much later, he found out his father had some cardiovascular problems, and his mother had hypertension, but most people do as they age, he said.

“If any of us discover one thing that matters, we’re lucky, because most of us don’t,” he said. “I think what people often don’t understand is that it takes decades for stories to unfold, particularly to know if something stands the test of time. Persistence, focus and hard work are really important.”

FitzGerald and his wife headed to the United States to Vanderbilt University in Tennessee in 1980. This is where FitzGerald began to focus on aspirin.

From a tree, a ‘miracle’ called aspirin

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