A Matter of Life & Death: Book Launch

A Matter of Life & Death:

Conversations with Pathologists

If you've ever had a serious illness like cancer, the person who made the diagnosis on which your treatment was based will have been a pathologist. Known as ‘the backroom boys’ because they work in laboratories behind the scenes and rarely have personal contact with patients, pathologists are vital members of the clinical team, responsible for around 70% of all diagnoses in the National Health Service. The great majority of their work is to do with living patients, yet the prevailing image of the pathologist - popularised by TV – is of someone working with a body pulled from a canal or a shallow grave to try to find out what happened. It’s this association with the macabre that led to them being vilified and dubbed ‘doctors of death’ when the storm blew up over retained organs at Liverpool’s Alder Hey hospital and Bristol Children’s Hospital in 2001. But what kind of people are pathologists really?


Here, fourteen individuals from diverse backgrounds talk with passion about how and why they decided, as young medics, to specialise in pathology, and the fascinating quest to understand disease that fills their working days. They reflect too upon the influence their work has had on their beliefs about the meaning of life and death.

Sue Armstrong is a science writer and broadcaster living in Edinburgh. As a foreign correspondent, she worked for a variety of media including New Scientist and the BBC World Service. Since 1981 she has undertaken regular assignments for the World Health Organization and UNAIDS, writing about women’s health issues and the global AIDS epidemic, often reporting from the field. She is author of In Search of Freedom.

Non-members can purchase the book here.


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