But for right now: So long David Owen!

Photos by: Daniel Owen Author

Assistant Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UBC
Head & Medical Director, Dept of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Vancouver – Acute Services

When I tried to google the definition of a British, excuse me, Welsh gentlemen I was surprised not to find a picture of David Owen! After all, who could be more fitting for this category than our esteemed colleague? Dr. Owen originally hails from Northern Wales and received his medical degree at Prifysgol Cymru (aka University of Wales) in Cardiff. (I was fortunate enough to visit the university a few years back and was struck by the institutions motto which is so exemplified by David Owen: Goreu Awen Gwirionedd – The best inspiration is truth.)
For those of us who have had the fortune of working alongside him in the Division of Anatomic Pathology at Vancouver General Hospital - and there have been many, as David Owen has been a member of the Division since 1980 (!) – he has been a trusted consultant not only in the realm of clinical conundrums but also in the finer aspects of life, especially anything related to travelling the globe.

Coincidentally, as I am writing this piece I received an email from him and I have to share the first paragraph as it truly illustrates his passions:
Greetings from Martinique.
Warm and sunny.
French wine etc.

For years the upper drawer of his desk was the source of never ending maps of every corner of the world and at the mere mention of an upcoming trip these maps would be consulted in great detail and a recommendation for an outstanding restaurant or sight to see was given – they never disappointed. Ever the consummate scientist David Owen has been a fixture in the international gastrointestinal pathology world for the past several decades and has contributed bountifully to the histopathological and physiological knowledge of the gastrointestinal tract. Despite his successes in the academic arena he has remained a very practical clinician. Many a consultation by colleagues debating the intricacies of small morphological alterations in GI specimens was met with the same response: “You are looking at this too closely - Don’t worry so much, it won’t kill the patient!

Aside from his astute diagnostic acumen he had a particular interest, one might call it a desire, to ensure the ‘proper’ use of English and, maybe more importantly, Latin syntax and nomenclature: What is the plural of data? Is there a hyphen in ‘well differentiated’? (I once witnessed him physically recoiling as a junior surgical resident mentioned the operative finding of ‘diverticulums’.) His other area of love, however, were GI parasites: Tapeworms, pinworms, roundworms, hookworms, trematodes, microsporidia, nonflagellated protozoa, giardia, amoeba, cryptosporidium, cystoisosporiasis/isosporiasis and schistosomiasis – he loved them all! In fact, many clinical rounds (although they often felt more like fireside chats) would end with discussions about the life cycle of these parasites and the clinical manifestations.

Although this December marks an end of an era we are fortunate that Dr. Owen will continue to work as a locum in the Division in between his many world travels and we are grateful for that.

But for right now: So long DAO!