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Leg before cricket: Chinmay Gupte

Updated Wednesday 9th May 2007

Former cricket star Dr Chinmay Gupte gave up the crease in favour of the laboratory. Once a budding test-cricketer, he decided he wanted to devote his life to medical research and surgery.

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Inspired by the sport, and by the injuries suffered by friends and relatives, Chinmay has spent three years researching little known ligaments at the back of the knee, which he believes could be crucial to sporting success.

Meet Chinmay Gupte

How did you get involved in researching the knee?
"My Dad was a professional cricketer for India. He suffered an injury of his knee which kept him out for the season so I always wanted to try and improve treatment…"


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He didn’t get back to peak fitness during the whole of that season. And that experience really made me realise that for a professional sportsman a whole season can be a lifetime. It can be their make or break year, and if their injuries aren’t managed optimally and we don’t have the resources or the research in able, in order to be able to do that then it can be a serious event in their career. So that’s how the whole interest in knees came about.


How important is medical research?
"I think medical research is the most important because it makes a direct impact on people's lives, from the discovery of DNA to genetic advances today…"


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The position that they were in, we thought that they might contribute to the stiffness of the knee. And now we’ve actually been able to show that, it’s actually quite exciting. Even if we hadn’t shown that they were doing anything, even that would have been an important result because then people could have just disregarded them.

The really exciting bit comes when you put all the results together on a graph and you see a pattern emerging which sometimes you don’t see when you’re actually doing one individual experiment. And that’s the exciting bit.


What are the aims of your research?
"I could spend the rest of my life researching the human body if I wanted to, I'd mainly like to improve operations…"


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Without medical research we wouldn’t have the advances in the hospitals, we wouldn’t have the kind of incredible treatments that we get and the improved life expectancy that we have. So I think medical research is a keystone to hospital life and to life as a patient. It’s impossible to undergo any treatment that hasn’t been researched. Patients would suffer, and patients wouldn’t actually benefit from some of the advances that they have benefited from in the last twenty or thirty years.


Would you recommend medical research to others?
"Yes, wholeheartedly, but the hours are long, it requires hard work but it's so satisfying…"


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What I’d like to do is operate and help with patients but also try and refine those operations that I’m doing so that they get the best result possible. And that’s really what all of us in the laboratory and all of us in medical research in general are trying to do.


What do you find exciting about your research?
"When we started we had a theory that the menisco-femoral ligaments must be doing something, it's exciting to prove that they are…"


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I have found research so stimulating and so enjoyable, and the fact that I do research which hopefully will be relevant in everyday life adds a completely different dimension to what I’m doing.

What did you want to be when you were little?
"A cricketer, doctor or a maths analyst. I thought about finance or astrophysics but did medicine because I like the human contact."

What was your favourite subject at school?
"Maths as I liked numbers more than words and enjoyed solving puzzles."

What A level's did you study?
"Maths, Physics and Chemistry"

What was your ambition when you left school?
"To play cricket for England and to eat three Shredded Wheat!"

What did you do between leaving school and starting university?
"Travelled to the USA for four weeks with a friend and also played cricket in the UK."

When and where did you go to university?
"From 1990 to 1996 I studied at Oxford University for my BA (2:1) and Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery."

What were your ambitions after your degree?
"To succeed at whatever I was doing. I wanted to play test cricket but at the end of the year I felt I was falling behind my peers in exams and I didn't like it. So I decided I wanted to concentrate on being a surgeon."

Have you any further degrees or qualifications?
"I am studying for a PhD at Imperial College, on the function and biomechanics of the menisco-femoral ligaments (its a bioengineering project for short)."

What jobs have you had since your degree?
"I have been a Professional Cricketer for Middlesex CCC, Gloucestershire CCC and a Doctor in Oxford, Maidstone and London."

What are your ambitions now?
"To be leader in my field and to develop the surgery and management of sports injuries. I'd like to play for Marylebone Cricket Club, the birthplace of cricket and perhaps have children who play cricket."





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