David Nunan: martial arts, methodologies and mailing lists

January 1, 2016

David Nunan is Module Co-ordinator for the Practice of Evidence-Based Healthcare, as well as a supervisor for MSc students. He is also a Departmental Lecturer and Senior Research Fellow at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.

What was your earliest ambition?

I wanted (and still do to some degree) to be a martial arts action movie star/ninja and represent my country. I achieved the latter but not yet the former.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

After Bruce Lee, and related to my work, I would say all the educators and mentors I have had that showed great dedication, passion and futility.

Why did you get into EBM?

I knew very little of EBM before I joined the CEBM but working in the Centre I soon realised the importance of it and how it has helped shape medicine and healthcare for the better. I’ve also become increasingly interested in the current flaws of EBM and ways to tackle them.

What do you feel has made the most difference in EBM?

I think the recognition by medical councils that trainee medics should be trained in the basics of EBM, recognising its importance and that EBM should be embedded into the daily practice of medicine and healthcare.

Describe your approach to research in three words.


What do you like most about teaching?

What I learn. I don’t think there has been a teaching session where I haven’t walked away without learning something new – either a question I couldn’t answer in a satisfactory way or teaching of a concept that did or didn’t work. The constant feedback on your own knowledge and ability to transfer this but more importantly to inspire others to want to learn – these are the reasons I enjoy teaching.

Do you have any regrets about becoming a doctor?

I’m not a medical doctor but have a PhD. No regrets.

What has been your most innovative piece of teaching?

I have engaged with new technologies to create different ways of presenting information to hopefully cater to different types of learning styles. I like to push boundaries a bit, even if it means a few misses along the way.

When are you having the most fun at work?

When I’m deep in the focus of data analysis; teaching to motivated and questioning students. 

If you weren’t a doctor/teacher, what would be doing instead?

I refer you to my first answer!

What do you find hardest about teaching?

Preparing content that is interesting/relevant/stimulating; when conditions are not conducive to learning.

If you were given £1 million for research, what would you do?

I would use it to initiate an independent research network that would test/review and summate the highest quality evidence for medical interventions/diagnostics etc; where members of the network have no financial or other conflicts of interest, are totally impartial to the research questions being assessed, are completely transparent with their methodologies, comply with all reporting standards, report only what the data shows in a way that makes sense to both health professionals and patients, and have completely open access policies around data sharing.

I would probably need more than £1 million for this!

What one resource should every EBM enthusiast read?

The stream of Evidence-Based Health JISC email network.

To see more posts in this series, please click here.

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