John E. Hall, PhD speaks about his experiences within the physiology field and the making of the Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology, 12th Edition.
I had very good mentors and that was really what got me interested in physiology and cardiovascular research. I was very fortunate to choose the University of Mississippi Medical Center for postdoctoral training, with Dr. Guyton — who wrote the first 8 editions of the Textbook of Medical Physiology entirely by himself. I had the privilege of working with Dr. Guyton for almost 30 years before he died in a car accident in 2003. I began working with him on the Textbook of Medical Physiology around 1990, starting with the 9th edition.
One of the things that Dr. Guyton taught me was not to include too much in the book, especially excess information not essential for training of health care professionals. When I first wrote the first chapter, he said, “Okay, I’ll look at it. Come back tomorrow, we’ll talk about it.” The next day he said, “Cut it by 50 percent.” I said, “Well, what 50 percent do you want me to cut?” He said, “You decide, but cut it by 50 percent.” The point is, the book is written primarily for students, not for their professors — it’s written to enhance their medical education and is not intended to be a research reference book. A major goal of the book is to explain, in language easily understood by students, how the different cells, tissues and organs of the human body work together to maintain life. Advances in understanding how the body functions are occurring continuously and with each edition we are faced with the challenge of deciding what to add and what to remove from the book. So what’s hot in medical research cannot always be included in the book; our emphasis is on the core material needed for training health care professionals.
Students are more and more attuned to visual information, so the artwork is getting better and we’re placing more emphasis on the figures and ancillary materials that accompany the book. We constantly ask our readers for feedback. That’s an important part of writing the book — we get of feedback all over the world and use that feedback for progressive improvement of the book.
I think that the defining moments in my career are three fantastic mentors that I had. Almost everyone who’s successful has a really good mentor. Even at my age, I still have mentors. Regardless of whether your career is research or one of the health care professions, you need folks to help you out along the way.
John E. Hall is the Arthur C. Guyton Professor and Chair of Physiology and Biophysics, and Associate Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Dr. Hall received his B.S. at Kent State University in 1968, a doctorate in physiology at Michigan State University in 1974 and postdoctoral training at the University of Mississippi Medical Center before joining the faculty.
Dr. Hall’s major research interests include cardiovascular and renal physiology, mechanisms of hypertension, obesity and metabolic disorders. His research has been funded continuously from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute since 1975 and he has been Director of an NIH Program Project grant since 1988. He has authored or co-authored over 520 publications and has written or edited 18 books, including the Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology which he co-authored with the late Arthur Guyton for the 9th and 10th editions and authored by himself for the 11th and 12th editions. Dr. Hall is also an author of the Pocket Companion to Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology. He is former Editor-in-Chief of Hypertension, former Chief Editor of The American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, and serves on the editorial boards of several international journals.
Dr. Hall previously served as President of the American Physiological Society, President of the Inter-American Society of Hypertension, Chair of the Committee of Scientific Councils, AHA, and Chair of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research, AHA. He also has served on the Executive Committees of the American Society of Hypertension, the International Society of Hypertension, the International Union of Physiological Sciences, and the National Board of Directors of the American Heart Association.
Dr. Hall’s research honors include the Distinguished Achievement Award of the American Heart Association Council for High Blood Pressure Research, the International Society of Hypertension Franz Volhard Award for Outstanding Research, the Novartis Award for Hypertension Research of the American Heart Association, the Richard Bright Award of the American Society of Hypertension, the Harry Goldblatt Award of the American Heart Association, the Lewis Dahl Award of the American Heart Association, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Inter-American Society of Hypertension, the Merck, Sharp and Dohme Distinguished Research Award from the International Society of Hypertension, the Ernest Starling Award of the American Physiological Society, the Distinguished Research Achievement Award of the American Heart Association-Mississippi Affiliate, the Lifetime Achievement Award of COSEHC, the A. Ross McIntyre Award, the Marion Young Scholar Award of the American Society of Hypertension, an NIH Career Development Award, the A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professorship and the Billy S. Guyton Distinguished Professorship of the University of Mississippi, the Excellence Award of the Mississippi Technology Alliance and inducted into Mississippi Innovators Hall of Fame.