International and close cooperation; a mutual benefit

Helene Dambo

Professor at Nottingham University Hospital, Tahir
Masud, has been a visiting professor at OUH/SDU
for six years. One of his close collaborators is the
head of research at the Clinical Geriatric Department,
Jesper Ryg.

Allow us to present the first visiting professor at Odense University Hospital/University of Southern Denmark; Professor at Nottingham University Hospital, Tahir Masud. Since 2010 he has been supporting the research projects at the Clinical Geriatric Department in Odense.

About yourself, your background and step towards your present career / research

“I studied at Oxford and London Universities in the medical schools. After my training at hospitals in London and Newcastle I decided to specialize in geriatric medicine – simply because I had been inspired by working with strong role models. And since then I’ve never looked back in my choice and became a consultant in geriatric medicine at the Hospital in Nottingham in 1994. There I still work, now as a professor.”

How and when did you establish the cooperation with SDU/OUH?

“Director Kim Brixen invited me to be a visiting professor in 2010 to improve the research at Department of Geriatrics. He and I had known each other during a couple of years before due to the fact that we at that time both were in the field of osteoporosis.

And from the first time in Odense, where I met everyone in the department, I was impressed by their enthusiasm for research, which at that time included a few and relative small projects. But geriatrics was then – and still is – an important area due to the changing demography. So I was struck – by the importance of the research, the passion and welcome which made it easy for me to accept the role as a visiting professor.”

The steps forward, since the beginning of the cooperation

“We started up by researching the area of falls and osteoporosis – both of which are risk factors for fractures – primarily hip fractures – which costs a lot of money for the society. And another project we are doing is looking to see how ‘whole body vibration’ treatment in conjunction with a special hormone, PTH, improves muscle and bone strength. Our upcoming research include projects on Sarcopenia; muscle loss, frailty and nutrition. They all have influence on each other and are a way to see how we can improve the functional levels in older people to keep them fit for the life.

With which experience and network do you support the Odense-research?

“I will be the next President of the well-respected British Geriatric Society. Hopefully it will bring back a positive influence to the department. Also I was the previous President of UEMS – The European Union of Medical Specialists / Geriatric Medicine Section. And basically it all supports me in collaborating with other geriatricians in Europe – and makes important international networking a great deal smoother. So I consider that by getting involved with research in Odense I am helping to promote the city, the university and the hospital. The geriatric clinical department has already an excellent reputation in the world and hopefully it will increase even further when we have even more progress in the research projects.

All things considered the experiment of visiting professors is innovative and a great way to get external expertise and collaboration – and the international work is important for all parties – maybe even more in a small country.

Which experience do you bring back home from Odense?

“I have learned a lot due to my association. Most remarkable and positive for me are the Danish models of patient care. I think in terms of different ways of organizing services – and some of them I have brought back to the UK to improve our own ways of doing the care. And together the department and I have published a lot which of course also is for me a positive factor.

I see our cooperation as a mutual advantage which has a huge impact in many ways. Together we really have moved the scientific field from a lot of seeds to a lot of projects within senior research. The fruits we will collect together in the coming years.”

Who are your central colleagues in Odense?

“Chief physician Lars Matzen and Head of Research Jesper Ryg are my primary partners but I work with other members of the department as well. All of them make me feel very much at home. Also a vital part of the success has been the talented Ph.D.-students working with me. They are all very capable, enthusiastic and it is a delight for me to be their supervisor. I see them all when I am in Odense around four times a year – and in between we communicate via mail.”

How do you find the Danes?

“I do not see deep differences between our two countries. In UK the Danes are sometimes portrayed as having a ‘special kind of humor’ due to the cartoon controversies. My personal experience is that I never have had a negative meeting with any Dane and I find them polite, kind and friendly. In general terms, all the Scandinavian countries are looked upon as very advanced in their promotion of social equality – and I think that many countries around the world can learn from that.”