Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The four-minute neuroscientist

My friend Tim Allsop is currently playing Roger Bannister in an outdoor play which recreates his record-breaking run on the Iffley Road athletics track in 1954. As part of his preparation for the role, Tim met the great man, and found that he was rather bemused by his status as a sporting icon. He would much rather be remembered, apparently, for his research in neurology. His Wikipedia entry contains barely a hint of Dr Bannister's research career - it's all about that glorious 4-minute mile. A quick search on Google scholar reveals that his scientific interest was focussed on diseases of the autonomic nervous system, on which he published widely. From my perspective as a humble PhD student (who is currently training for the Hornsey 10K run!) I can understand his feelings. It seems to me that the commitment and hard work required to get a productive scientific career going probably makes training for an athletics record attempt pale into insignificance by comparison.