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Art Imitates Life for Imperial Physician

For Immediate Use
26 April 2001

A dramatic story from the life of an Imperial College professor is retold in a novel to be published this week.

Intensive Care by Rosemary Friedman was inspired by the true story of Professor Julia Polak, now Director of Imperial College Tissue Engineering Centre at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, who received a heart and lung transplant in 1995.

Her colleague, surgeon Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub performed the operation.

Less than two months later she set up the Julia Polak Lung Transplant Fund to fund research into lung disease and repair and in 2001 she continues to pioneer research into tissue repair and regeneration.

Professor Polak said:

"Im delighted that my experience has inspired a book which raises the profile of the plight of transplant patients and the human cost of lack of donor organs. Im even more pleased to discover my character has been transformed into a tall and leggy doctor!"

The book is available to buy direct from the Julia Polak Research Trust. The Trust will receive 45 per cent of the cover price of each copy it sells.

Last December the Imperial College Tissue Engineering Centre held a scientific Symposium to celebrate a double anniversary - the first year of the Centre itself, a period during which Imperial researchers have scored a number of notable firsts in the tissue engineering field, and the fifth anniversary of Professor Polaks heart and lung transplant.

In the same month researchers from the Centre announced that they had succeeded in creating bone cells using embryonic stem cell technology. This achievement may lead to new treatments in bone grafting and bone tissue engineering and repair.

The Imperial College Tissue Engineering Centre includes some of the leading doctors in British medicine on its staff and as collaborators, including Imperial College professors, Lord Robert Winston, Sir Magdi Yacoub and Professor Ara Darzi.

Professor Polak arrived at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School at the Hammersmith Hospital over thirty years ago on a travelling scholarship from Argentina.

The Royal Postgraduate Medical School merged with Imperial College in 1997, helping to form the Imperial College School of Medicine, now one of the biggest medical schools and research institutions in Europe.

Julia Polak is married to a Professor of Haematology who works at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London. They have three children.

For further information:

For further information about the Julia Polak Research Trust and to order a copy of the book please contact Lucy Hodson on 020 8746 5629 or e-mail Professor Julia Polak is available for interview.

For further information about the book Intensive Care please contact Sarah Byrne at House of Stratus on 020 7494 6404. Rosemary Friedman is available for interview.

Imperial College Press Office - Tom Miller on 020 7594 6701/2

Notes to Editors:

1. Intensive Care by Rosemary Friedman. Published by House of Stratus on 26 April 2001. Simultaneous publication in hardback (UKP10.99) (ISBN 0-7551-0021-3) and paperback (UKP9.99) (ISBN 0-7551-0431-5)

2. Rosemary Friedman has published 21 titles, both fiction and non-fiction. She has written screenplays for film and TV and has had a stage play produced.

3. Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine is an independent constituent part of the University of London. Founded in 1907, the College teaches a full range of science, engineering, medical and management disciplines at the highest level. The College is the largest applied science and technology university institution in the UK, with one of the largest annual turnovers (Urs (UKP339 million in 1999-2000) and research incomes (UKP176 million in 1999-2000).

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