Dr Alexander Comninos is a consultant in endocrinology and diabetes and honorary clinical senior lecturer at Imperial College London. His research interests are in reproductive endocrinology and metabolic bone disease and he has presented internationally, winning several prestigious prizes including the Society’s Early Career and Clinical Endocrinology Trust Prizes. Alex currently sits on the Society’s Science Committee and is a previous Leadership and Development Awards Programme Awardee. Read our interview with him to find out about his career, the current challenges in his field, and how he thinks endocrinology will change in the future.
*A late night collaborative meeting at a Kebab House during SfE BES 2015
Tell us about your current position
I feel very fortunate as my current role combines clinical work, research and teaching. One day I may be running our endocrine bone clinic, the next day I could be on call for acute medicine, or analysing data and finishing a research paper, lecturing and tutoring undergraduates, or meeting my PhD students. I really enjoy the fact that each day is different and endocrinology is the theme through most of it, with so many opportunities to combine clinical and academic work.
What are you proudest of in your career so far?
Looking back on my career so far, I am so happy that I made it through all the harder times in medicine and academia. Long runs of night-shifts and previous unsuccessful grant applications certainly tested my perseverance but made me stronger!
What do you think are the biggest challenges in endocrinology right now?
With increasing patient use of social media and the internet in general sometimes misinforming patients, we have to ensure that we provide clear and accurate information to patients and address their concerns. In addition, although we are hopefully emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, an element of remote medicine is clearly here to stay. With patient compliance, subtle symptoms and blood tests so integral to endocrinology, we need to find new ways to monitor these in a remote medicine environment.
How do you think your field of research will change in the future?
Genetics is such a rapidly developing field. I suspect we will be routinely performing full cheap gene sequencing and using this information to guide management at an individual level.
What is it like being involved with the Society for Endocrinology?
We are lucky to have such a well-run society. I currently sit on the Science Committee which is an absolute pleasure. Interacting with other basic and clinical endocrinologists, each with different opinions and interests is really fascinating and constantly thought-provoking. I would like to see the Society push on with in-person meetings, when safe to do so, as I feel this is so important for our morale on an individual as well as a collective basis.
Who are your most inspirational endocrinologists?
Like many others, Professor Karim Meeran is a large part of why I chose endocrinology, and Professor Waljit Dhillo is the inspiration behind my academic pursuits. Their dedication to trainee development, super approachable nature, calmness and sense of what is best, is really incredible and I am sure numerous trainees would agree. I also have to say that Dr Cox at St Mary’s has been a real clinical inspiration for me. I was his house-officer many years ago, and now to sit next door as a consultant colleague always makes me smile. His incredible experience, knowledge and deep interest in endocrine physiology have certainly helped shape my early consultant years, and we have had many enthralling clinical discussions!
Any words of wisdom for aspiring researchers in endocrinology?
It is a wonderful specialty, full of surprises and opportunities. Be inquisitive constantly, question things to understand concepts and remember the journey is lifelong.
The Society for Endocrinology is 75 years old in 2021. As part of our celebrations, we are collecting members’ opinions, with a focus towards the future – after a particularly hard year for us all!
We are keen to reflect the diversity and breadth of our discipline by hearing from members across all backgrounds, career stages, career types and geographical locations, to get a true flavour of the range of views, needs and challenges faced by our Society members.