| Pundit Profile

A Q&A with Douglas L. Gourlay

What inspired you to do what you do?

I began my career studying basic sciences back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. After graduate school, I made the decision to study medicine, ultimately completing a fellowship in anesthesiology. During that time, my interest in regional anesthesia led me toward pain management in general and ultimately to study pain and chemical dependency.

Why did you focus on pain management?

Our understanding of basic pain mechanisms was advancing by leaps and bounds. The other side of the coin was largely unstudied and so I developed a keen interest in asking and trying to answer some of these questions related to the risks of using opioids.

Who were your mentors?

During my early years of study, I had several key mentors. Without question, the most significant ones were from my undergraduate and graduate studies in chemistry. Professor Stan Walker, a brilliant physical chemist, and Dr. Andrew Booth, the then president of Lakehead University helped me develop an approach to problem solving that began with observation. I learned that scientific discovery doesn’t begin with a “Eureka!” It usually starts with “Isn’t that interesting?” I also learned that you always put your money on the plodder, not the genius with poor work habits!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I hope it is my commitment to education.

What is your most marked characteristic?

My logical approach to problem solving.

If you weren’t a healthcare provider, what would you be?

I almost certainly would have been an engineer although I seriously considered becoming a double naught spy for a time! I think if truth be told, playing a Scottish apothecary surgeon at Old Fort William Historical Park for 5 years gave me a leg up on my public speaking skills.

What is or are your favorite languages?

English, although my skill in that regard is often questionable. But any skill I do have I owe to Professor Walker’s wife, Kathleen. Mrs. “W” was a Brit, trained in library sciences. While she did not have a ruler to knock my knuckles when I deviated from the Queen’s English, she had ways to make it known that simply less than perfect simply would not do!!

Hmm, does mathematics count as a language?

If you had to choose one book, one film, and one piece of music to take into space for an undetermined amount of time, what would they be?

Book: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Film: 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick.

Music: Anything from my 1970’s collection! If there is harmony, I’m in!

What would you like your legacy to be?

I hope my legacy will be seen in those students who took the time to ask me questions and, in some cases, listened to my answers!

Plans for the future?

It’s time for me and my wife to travel the world for pleasure. I’ve logged over 1 million miles in the air to this date, mostly for business—it’s time to travel for fun!

What is your motto?

In the absence of knowing what to do, knowing what not to do is a close second!