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Sebastian Lucas

Sebastian LucasProfessor of Clinical Histopathology at Guy’s,  King’s and St Thomas' Hospital

Interview location: St Thomas' Hospital, London
Interview date
: 26th July, 2007

Key Themes: Alder HeyAutopsy, International Perspective, Legislation and RegulationMentors and Influences, MotivationRelationship with clinicians


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It's the thrill of picking up a slide and looking at...things which are either versions of a disease I know about but I've never seen that version before; or genuinely really rare things; or even things that no one else has ever seen beforeSebastian Lucas made his name in the early 90s with his pioneering work on AIDS.  Having performed autopsies on more than 1000 people who died of AIDS in Africa and England,  Lucas knows as much as anyone about the multiple manifestations of the disease in different environments, and his findings have had a critical influence on the management and treatment of people with HIV.

“Africa was completely different,” he explains.  His investigations, particularly in Uganda and Cote d’Ivoire, led to worldwide recognition of the powerful link between HIV and tuberculosis.  

A problem-solver by nature, pathology suited his temperament – and infectious diseases in particular stimulated his curiosity.  “It's a really important driver, actually, curiosity.  It's probably the biggest driver of all... You're kind of working on the edge all the time.”

Lucas’s has been a fascinating and varied career, and his story is peppered with colourful anecdotes and discussion.  Autopsy features strongly in his work, and he freely admits that much of the vital research he carried out, particularly into AIDS, in the 1990s would be impossible in today's legislative climate.  However, he argues, there is a case for “overriding what we now regard as narrow consensual requirements [when it is] outweighed by the public good it does.”


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