Copyright 1998 The Scotsman Publications Ltd. Scotland on Sunday September 27, 1998, Sunday Pg. 3 LESSONS FROM SEAT OF LEARNING By Neil Mackay NEVER have three doctors been so flushed with success. Vital research on the dangers posed by traditional porcelain toilet bowls has earned a team of Scottish medics a nomination for this year's IG Nobel prize. William Tullett, a consultant at Glasgow's Western Infirmary, and two of his colleagues are being lauded for their groundbreaking work The Collapse of Toilets in Glasgow. Their research laid the foundations for the study of injuries sustained by overweight people after they sat on toilets and broke them. Tullett, along with Jonathan Wyatt and Gordon McNaughton, came to the conclusion that in order to avoid painful porcelain wounds to their behinds, large-boned men and women should hover "continental-style" over toilets rather than risk sitting down. So significant has the research proved that it is in line for the IG Nobel prize, awarded annually for studies that benefit mankind, but not in the conventional sense. The prestigious award will be handed over by genuine Nobel laureates at a glitzy ceremony at Harvard University, Massachusetts, next month. Tullett, a consultant since 1988, is delighted that the work, published in the Scottish Medical Journal, is being hailed as his life's achievement. "I've published 20 scientific papers and they all sank without trace. It seems my work on toilets has finally got me the recognition I deserve," he said. "We discovered there were hidden risks in the toilet. It is a ground -breaking invention, but it also has its dangers, especially for the more hefty among us." Tullett and his team hit on their findings after noticing an upsurge in bloody behinds belonging to overweight patients arriving at casualty. "Our first case was a 14-year-old girl who weighed 12 stone. She sustained cuts to her thighs when the toilet she sat on collapsed," explained Tullett. Other victims included a gentleman who sustained multiple lacerations to his buttocks when his weight caused a toilet to disintegrate. "The toilets in question were of the old-fashioned porcelain variety. They could not sustain the weight of large individuals. This was the first time toilets were linked to medical injuries and it is a breakthrough. We hope our research will ease the discomfort and embarrassment of toilet-collapse victims." The IG Nobel awards are the brainchild of Harvard's Marc Abrahams, who called Tullett's work "a classic IG Nobel nominee". "The one criterion all entries are judged on is that they must be achievements that cannot and should not be reproduced." The awards are given out in 10 categories ranging from medicine and literature to economics and peace. Previous winners include Bernard Vonnegut, the brother of author Kurt, for his work Chicken Plucking as a Measure of Tornado Wind Speed, involving firing dead chickens from a cannon into approaching twisters.