For our seventh episode, Dr. Simon Thornley joins George and Grant. He is a public health physician and a PhD qualified epidemiologist. What also defines this man is his brilliant mind and his ability to unpack and deal with research, what the research means, and how to interpret it.

Simon Thornley: Becoming an Epidemiologist and A Public Health Physician

Dr. Simon first endured six years at med school. After that, he worked for a couple of years as a junior doctor. But he admits that he got “sick of treating the un-treatable”. It was then that he found himself thinking he could do better on the “prevention side.” So he applied to take training in the field of public health medicine. This was followed by a Master of Public Health and working in clinical trials, where he helped people get off cigarette addiction through nicotine replacement.

Dr Simon then took a PhD in epidemiology, focusing on cardiovascular risk prediction. Since then, he’s also worked as a senior lecturer, teaching epidemiology at university. He states that he wants to try and “help [people] understand the cause of disease and project epidemics and [help in] sensible decision making based on numbers.”

Publication Bias and Meta-Analysis

It was during his thesis that Dr. Simon became interested in publication bias and meta-analysis. He wrote a paper looking at drug effects in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. He mentions that math was one of his strengths and that he really wanted to do epidemiology. However, most public health trainings werent relevant to epidemiology. But it was “the only way I could really do some serious mathematical stuff.” Fortunately, he was able to get a government scholarship.

Diabetes from An Epidemiological Perspective

Dr. Simon states that diabetes is just “a line in the same continuum that we all struggle with to some extent to control our glucose levels and insulin before that.” He also mentions Dr. Kraft’s work on hyperinsulinemia. The study documents insulin as what Dr. Simon refers to as “the Central Homer” responsible for atheroma or narrowing the arteries.

(Listen to Dr Catherine Crofts podcast to hear more about Dr Kraft and hyperinsulinemia).

The Medical System

Dr. Simon, when asked what works with our medical system, considers antibiotics as “generally very effective”, along with the management of trauma, injuries like broken bones are where he finds value in first-world medicine. However, Dr. Simon also shares that what isn’t well with the medical system is the area of chronic disease management. He recalls family and friends going into hospitals and merely getting nothing but drugs for these illnesses.

Dr. Simon Thornley Managing His Health

Dr. Simon Thornley enjoys physical activity. He’s also “zealous about getting rid of sugar.” He shares that there is “virtually no sugar” in his house. It makes his teeth sensitive and so he avoids it for that reason. Dr. Simon also shares that he’s slowly pushing his diet towards the direction of low-carb and high fat.

He also shares that his waistline, albeit needing more work, has significantly improved! And to do better, he also adds that it’s all about willpower.

Listen to the full podcast here.