AN INTERVIEW WITH… SAFWAAN ADAM
Safwaan Adam (Manchester) is a Clinician-in-Practice within the Society’s Leadership and Development Programme, which recognises and nurtures emerging talent in endocrinology. Following undergraduate and early postgraduate training in South Africa and New Zealand, Safwaan proceeded to specialist endocrinology training in the UK.
Which endocrinologists have most inspired you?
I have been very fortunate to have worked with a number of superb colleagues, but three people have, I feel, really shaped my career in endocrinology so far.
My first job in medicine was with Kenneth Huddle in Johannesburg, who was an exceptional clinician. He demonstrated the value of innovation when managing complex disease, even in the context of limited availability of resources. Akheel Syed, who supported me throughout my specialty training, has been someone who exhibits how a passion for clinical research can drive excellent clinical practice. He always transmits a positive energy, which is arguably the greatest motivational tool for younger colleagues. Peter Trainer has been my mentor, teacher and friend. Peter has this unique ability to drive a person’s self-belief and desire to achieve excellence, especially in relation to patient care. His distinct leadership style, where he always seems to see the ‘bigger picture’, has been particularly inspirational.
What do you enjoy about your work?
My current role as a consultant endocrinologist at the Christie Hospital in Manchester brings with it a number of privileges. Complex and rare conditions are referred to us, and I relish the challenge in the diagnostic process. The great merit of working as an endocrinologist is that I am usually optimistic, as many of the conditions in endocrinology clinics are treatable. A positive consequence of this is the formation of relationships in the long term follow up of patients, which I find particularly rewarding. My role also allows me to maintain a curiosity to drive clinical research, which is something I particularly enjoy. Additionally, my position enables me to contribute to the education and development of more junior colleagues, which I also value.
The great merit of working as an endocrinologist is that I am usually optimistic, as many of the conditions in endocrinology clinics are treatable. A positive consequence of this is the formation of relationships in the long term follow up of patients, which I find particularly rewarding.
What was the best thing about your first SfE BES conference?
I first attended in 2012 in Harrogate. Amongst the aspects I particularly enjoyed was the ability to network with colleagues from different parts of the country. There are still friends from my ‘first BES’ that I am in touch with today. (Alas, COVID got in the way of our annual meet up last year.) Moreover, as a very young clinician, I left the meeting inspired, as the quality of the plenaries was exceptional. I still remember some of the topics discussed at the Meet the Expert sessions. These remain ‘must attend’ sessions for me, especially as they have evolved over the years.
What have you enjoyed about working with the Society?
The Society has contributed to my development through the awarding of travel grants, educational possibilities and, importantly, the opportunities it has afforded me in my current role as a Leadership and Development Programme Awardee. Any hesitation I may have previously had about approaching senior members for advice quickly faded away. I was first encouraged by the Society to approach them and then, most importantly, by a warmth from the members themselves, when they willingly offer up guidance. As a young endocrinologist, this support has been invaluable. The reason I relate my experience is to encourage other young endocrinologists to embrace what the Society can offer them.
Any hesitation I may have previously had about approaching senior members for advice quickly faded away. I was first encouraged by the Society to approach them and then, most importantly, by a warmth from the members themselves.
What are the clinical practice milestones in your career?
Increased recognition of the impact of endocrine disorders on the risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disease has been especially important. We also have better tools to manage the risk of cardiovascular disease, through a growth in the treatment arsenal against metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and dyslipidaemia. I feel this will have a profound impact in reducing premature mortality in our patients.
The other major milestone has been the development of exciting functional imaging techniques to detect (and treat) adrenal and neuroendocrine tumours. Endocrinology has been at the forefront of embracing ‘theranostics’, an ever-growing field.
What will the next 75 years see in endocrine practice?
Endocrinology remains a very dynamic field and has always been at the forefront of discovery and experimentation. Much of our progress has been built on the merging of laboratory and clinical science, including genetics.
In the next 75 years, we will personalise patient care even further by embracing data and computational science within our cluster of innovation. Due to the nature of endocrinological disease, there are still limitations in the inclusion of many of our patients in clinical research. I think this will improve with the advent and expansion of data science and electronic patient records, as we will become more reliant on ‘real world’ data. In essence, the ‘crystal ball’ shows me that (compared with our current resources in managing common and rare disease) we will have a greater evidence base for decision-making.
In the next 75 years, we will personalise patient care even further by embracing data and computational science within our cluster of innovation.
Colleagues who do the admirable job of managing patients with type 1 diabetes have already shown us how technological monitoring advancements can benefit patient care. In the next 75 years, I see expansion in the use of these devices to replace more hormones, allowing us the potential to use artificial intelligence to mimic physiology better. I also envisage an ability to do more investigations in a patient’s own home, as our diagnostic sample repertoire expands: for example, using saliva, hair and urine (instead of relying on blood samples) to diagnose and monitor endocrinological conditions.