2021 Barrie Edwards Memorial Lecture

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Professor Daniel Brockman giving the lecture on Zoom
Professor Daniel Brockman giving the lecture on Zoom.

In October 2021 Professor Daniel (Dan) Brockman (BVSc 1987) was invited to deliver the fourth Barrie Edwards Memorial Lecture. The Association launched these lectures in 2017 in memory of Barrie Edwards (BVSc 1961), and to celebrate the alumni of our wonderful Vet School. It had been eighteen months since our last lecture, which was held just prior to the first lockdown in March 2020.

After graduation Barrie joined the staff at Liverpool as a senior demonstrator and became a lecturer two years later. In 1970, he headed to the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), where he worked to develop equine surgical colic skills. In 1987, Barrie returned to Liverpool as Professor of Equine Studies, where he continued to be at the forefront of developing surgical techniques to save horses with colic. Barrie was known to many as “Prof” and was a gifted surgeon, scientist and teacher.

Barrie sadly died in 2011. As well as his surgical skills, he is remembered for his sense of humour, his drawing skills, and his kindness. When we ask alumni about their memories of Barrie, they frequently recall him staying behind after late-night colic surgery to produce detailed drawings of the surgery he had performed, as well as helping to tidy up theatre.

We were delighted this year that that a fellow surgeon, Dan Brockman, joined us to deliver the 2021 lecture. Dan currently leads the RVC Heart Surgery Programme and is particularly interested in the surgical management of congenital and acquired heart disease.

Dan’s lecture focused on his journey, and his heart surgery journey began when he moved to the University of Pennsylvania in 1991. Dan spoke about his resourceful and creative colleagues, who often had to modify instruments in MacGyver-like fashion to be able to do the surgeries they set out to perform. The logistics required to set up the operations was remarkable, often requiring months of planning.

In 2000, Dan moved to the RVC with the knowledge that successful heart surgery in dogs required standardised personnel and a co-ordinated team effort. Indeed, teams from Colorado and Japan have come over to the UK to support surgeries when needed. There also seems to be a certain amount of fate involved with these surgeries; the perfusionist that Dan works with was the father of one of the undergraduate students at the Royal Vet College.

Dan delivered a truly fascinating lecture, and it was wonderful to continue the tradition of the Barrie Edwards Memorial Lectures, albeit in a virtual format this time.

The Barrie Edwards Memorial Fund was set up in memory of Barrie to fund clinical research and projects. Barrie was always immensely proud when research projects undertaken at the equine hospital were presented and published. This fund aims to support ongoing colic research and keep the ethos of Barrie’s life and work alive.