I am flying to Boston the day after tomorrow for a couple of days. This is to do with a Campath trial that I am helping to supervise. I have almost completed a similar role in a rituximab trial and will be traveling to Frankfurt in a couple of weeks for a similar meeting. After a long career treating patients and organizing a health service, my life has moved on. January has been a very busy month, but one that is very different from what I have done most Januaries in my career. I have done a good deal of refereeing. Several medical journals including Blood, British Journal of Haematology and Haematologica have sought my advice on publishing different scientific articles. This is a difficult task. Reading the paper is often hard work. Then you have to test it for scientific validity, then you have to consider it in the context of what has already been done. Is it novel? Or just confirmatory? Is it mere repetition? Finally, is it important or merely trivial?
Then I have reviewed a couple of grant proposals (and still have two more to do). This is a responsible task. Someone's livelihood is at stake, but often the cash to support them is hard won - someone has been shaking an awful lot of tins.
Then there is GTAC. I have served on the Gene Therapy Advisory Committee for 6 years. These proposals are even more complicated. The science is very hard, but more than that the proposed treatment is potentially lethal. We are not only a scientific review committee, but also an ethical committee. I have reviewed two GTAC proposals this month and have a meeting coming up before the end of the month to discuss the future of the committee. Should we expand or limit our activities? Have some sorts of gene therapy now become routine? Are we able to take on stem cell therapy?
Then I have been editing Leukemia Research. this involves selecting referees for submitted papers (I have had 25 so far this month) and when teh reviews come in, deciding whether or not they should be published.
I also finished off a chapter I was writing on MDS and started a new one on CLL.
I have also spent time this month in my capacity of Treasurer of the MDS Foundation, trying to set up a Euro account that can be manipulated over the Internet. This seems impossible.
Quite apart from these intellectual activities, I have this month cleaned out the gutters on one side of the house, helped my daughter move out of her apartment, twice swept the drive of fallen leaves, been to the gym nine times, read the latest fantasy novels of Terry Goodkind and Stephen Donaldson and the Iain Banks novel 'Dead Air', watched the first two of the Helen Mirren 'Prime Suspect' series and watched the Justine Waddell version of 'Tess of the d'Urbevilles'.