Professor Owen Epstein
After gaining his undergraduate degree, with honours in internal medicine, from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Professor Epstein trained as a gastroenterologist first with Dr Gerry Bevan at Edgware General Hospital, and then at the Royal Free Hospital, where he was Lecturer in Medicine in Professor Dame Sheila Sherlock’s liver unit. After completing research in primary biliary cholangitis and completion of specialist training, he was appointed Consultant Gastroenterologist at the Royal Free and Clinical Tutor to Primary Care. He led the development of the Sheila Sherlock Education Centre and was one of the first gastroenterologists to recognise the role of nurse specialists. Together with Consultant Gastroenterology Nurse Isobel Mason (then a staff nurse), he initiated nurse led clinics for dyspepsia, iron deficiency, IBD, coeliac disease and family cancer syndromes. He led the development of colonoscopy at the hospital and trained many of the registrars and specialist nurse endoscopists.
At the turn of the century, with the explosion of new technologies, Professor Epstein embarked on a series of initiatives designed to ease the patient journey. He conceived of, and developed, the Royal Free screen based Simulation Centre. This is currently one of Europe’s leading high fidelity simulation centres offering simulated training in laparoscopic surgery, upper and lower endoscopy, ERCP, bronchoscopy, urology and interventional radiology. Together with Mr Adam Lewis, he established and developed the Louise Ryan GI Physiology Unit, currently recognised as one of the foremost GI physiology centres in London. He then conceived of and developed the “Map of Medicine”, an internet utility designed to offer primary and secondary care doctors a “satnav” view of 300 clinical pathways across the range of medical specialities.
His next project was “iConsult”, which used innovative processes to re-engineer the patient journey, in many patients reducing the hospital pathway from multiple journeys over three months to a single visit.
In 2006, capsule endoscopy was launched and Professor Epstein led the establishment and development of the Royal Free PillCam unit. Technological advances over the past 10 years now places PillCam endoscopy at the frontline of clinical gastroenterology allowing painless imaging of the deepest reaches of the 20 foot long gastrointestinal tract. Professor Epstein is recognised as a European expert in PillCam endoscopy of the stomach, small intestine and colon and the Royal Free is at the forefront of PillCam teaching, research and development.
In 2006, Professor Epstein was awarded a personal chair in gastroenterology in recognition of his research into endoscopy negative gastrointestinal disorders, process re-engineering and his contribution to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. Over the years he has been awarded research grants totalling over £1,000,000. He is the senior author of the best-selling textbook “Clinical Examination” and has published over 100 peer reviewed and research papers.
Currently, Professor Epstein’s major interest is the development of, and use of, minimally invasive assessment tools along with the establishment of a new Centre for Minimally Invasive Gastroenterology at the Royal Free.
Royal Free Hospital, Hadley Wood Hospital
Country of qualification
- British Society of Gastroenterology
- Royal College of Physicians
Registration and licensing
- Capsule (PillCam) endoscopy
- Non-radioactive breath testing to diagnose Helicobacter pylori, abnormalities of gastric and small intestinal physiology
- Use of non-invasive heart rate variability monitoring for evaluation of autonomic tone in patients with stress and patients with endoscopy negative gastrointestinal disorders
Major clinical interest is the use of new technology, in particular painless, minimally invasive investigations, to re-define the clinical journey leading to diagnosis and treatment.
The pathophysiology of endoscopy negative gastrointestinal disorders The role of the vagus nerve in gastrointestinal health and disease Treatment of gastrointestinal disease with non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation Defining the role of new technologies, including PillCam and non-radioactive breath testing in gastrointestinal disorders