Our weekly guide to healthcare's most influential people

Published: 12/09/2002, Volume II2, No. 5822 Page 9

Name: Professor Carol Black.

Job: President, Royal College of Physicians.

Style: Dedicated doctor who has made littleknown but fatal connective tissue disease scleroderma her life's work and scooped a CBE for her efforts in January.But the modest rheumatologist admits: 'I wanted to be a liver doctor, but because I was older I had a wise professor who said if you want to get to the top choose a specialty with openings.'She is behind much of the RCP work on emergency medicine and isolated medical units that could shape future hospitals.Still gets to the Royal Free Hospital at 7am to keep up her clinical work, although some might feel she has enough on her plate following Professor Sir George Alberti at the RCP.Long-distance walker, one-time marathon runner and trained singer who is keen on renovating houses - 'I've done three. . . It is very restful.'

Background: History student who was almost 26 before she began medical training - including a hurried science A-level catch-up. Fitted in a year teaching children with Voluntary Service Overseas in the west Pacific Gilbert Islands .'It was pretty isolated.Three ships arrived in the year I was there.'Qualified in Bristol, then moved to London in the mid-'70s.Rose to become medical director at the Royal Free.Became only the second woman president at the RCP after a stint as clinical vice-president and council membership since the mid-90s.

Future prospects: Expect energetic work on medical education, diversifying consultant careers and involving patients.do not rule anything out though - 'I am a frustrated opera singer really.'