Peter Hall has been given a rare accolade by the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland
Most people assume that pathology professor Peter Hall cuts up dead bodies. But Professor Hall, who holds the Musgrave chair at Queen's University Belfast, said: "My research is trying to understand disease mechanisms. It would not be out of place in a department of genetics or pure biology."
Those who understand his work best, his fellow members of the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland, have awarded him the Goudie Lectureship and Medal for 2007. He is only the third person to receive the national honour, which he describes as the highlight of his career. "Grant applications are rejected, papers are rejected. Then to have a group of one's peers actually award one a medal is a bit special," he said.
Professor Hall's first chair was at the United Medical and Dental Schools in London, after which he moved to Dundee University as professor of cellular pathology. While there, he was involved in its ground-breaking research into the p53 cancer gene.
But six years later, he left higher education for a hospital consultancy.
"You could describe it as burnout. If you like, I had a sabbatical in the health service," he said.
Professor Hall then met Hilary Russell, a cancer researcher at Queen's, and he moved to Northern Ireland to marry her. The two are also research collaborators, albeit from different disciplines, since Dr Russell is a senior lecturer in biomedical sciences.
"I see my work very much as translational," Professor Hall said. "It's trying to bridge the gap between basic science and clinical applications."