Editor’s note: We are sorry to hear that Dr. Paul Bacon, consummate collaborator and pioneering legend of British rheumatology, died peacefully on Jan. 5, 2018. We published this profile in 2010, and are pleased to share it again in his remembrance.
Consummate Collaborator Continues Advances in Measuring Disease Activity
Since 2003, Paul A. Bacon, MD, has been professor emeritus of the University of Birmingham’s Department of Rheumatology (which he founded and has chaired for over 20 years) in the United Kingdom. One look at his current roster of projects, and it becomes clear that “emeritus” simply connotes, for Dr. Bacon, a full plate of investigations, collaborations, and new ventures. The developer of the Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score (BVAS) has been hard at work on a Takayasu’s arteritis–specific disease index, entailing twice-yearly visits to work with his colleagues in the Indian Rheumatology Association’s Vasculitis Special Interest Group. In between those projects, he continues oversight of the Birmingham Arthritis Resource Centre, chairs the fellowship committee for Arthritis Research U.K., and continues to coauthor a raft of review and clinical investigation papers with his colleagues in the European League Against Rheumatism Systemic Vasculitis Task Force, among others. Now add to these enterprises a lively family life (eight grandchildren) and trying, he says, “to run a large garden and get it under proper control,” and it’s easy to see why his wife wonders when his retirement will start.
During several telephone conversations, Dr. Bacon admitted he’s swimming in projects. “But the problem is,” he said good-humoredly, “I’m always enlarging them into new ones! One of my previous secretaries said to me, ‘You must learn to say no,’ but it does spoil life.” Former trainee David G.I. Scott, MD, of the Department of Rheumatology at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in Norwich, U.K., notes that his long-time collaborator and friend “has almost done more successful research post-retirement, since he is now free of the huge amount of administrative work that comes with chairing and running a department.”
A “Can-Do” Attitude
An unremitting scientific curiosity and a zest for collaborations have characterized Dr. Bacon’s career. He spoke of his diverse educational experiences and the opportunities he’s had to become one of rheumatology’s premier clinical investigators.