I am delighted to receive this award from the ACPGBI. The competition - largely from close friends - was stiff and at the highest level. The process proved to be quite therapeutic as a two-page application form forces one to focus on what has been, and what will be, important. Below, I’ve summarised my ambitions for the coming 12 months and beyond.
I am a Clinical Lecturer in Colorectal Surgery at University Hospital Birmingham currently at ST8 level as I write this. I split my time 50:50 between clinical and academic practice. The hospital sits on the University campus creating a truly integrated approach to surgical research.
Clinically, the hospital has a busy colorectal practice that includes early and advanced cancer, pelvic floor, abdominal wall reconstruction, and complex inflammatory bowel disease. As a major trauma centre, there is also key involvement in the delivery of emergency services. Academically, I work between the Institute of Translational Medicine and Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit. This colorectal unit is academically very supportive, with a Professor, three Senior Lecturers, two Clinical Lecturers, and five Academic Clinical Fellows (SHO level). We have a flat hierarchy and call each other by first names; we are encouraged to robustly debate with our Head of Department.
Our successful application as the NIHR Research Unit on Global Surgery will help collaborating surgeons in low and middle-income countries prioritise research topics and plan appropriate studies. This includes cohort studies, feasibility studies, and major randomised controlled trials. A pipeline approach has allowed the first three RCTs to develop, which will focus on reducing surgical site infection and improving perioperative care. It will be a pleasure to bring six interested surgeons from the network to Birmingham for this year’s ACPGBI Annual Congress, where we will be discussing how we can further collaborate going forwards. This will be followed by an international trial management group meeting for the FALCON-RCT.
I was the trainee lead on the ROCCS trial, which tested biologic mesh at the time of stoma closure, recruiting 790 patients. It is now closed to follow-up and we are preparing the analysis and final paper. It has served as a training vehicle to test interventions in complex settings (i.e. within the operating theatre) and to deliver international research, with several European centres collaborating. I’m looking forward to developing a wider portfolio of interventional colorectal research. We have a lot to for identifying best practice in areas of variation and for helping the safe introduction of novel innovations, for example in rectal cancer surgery.
I am a co-founder of the GRANULE course that trains medical students and junior doctors to recruit patients into research studies. I have seen this grow into a funded course that also delivers European mini-courses through the European Society of Coloproctology and bite-sized courses through the ACPGBI’s CREATE roadshows. Over the next 12 months, the committee is hoping to get a modified introductory course online for wider dissemination. Supporting the STARSurg and EuroSURG networks are vital, as it will ensure that we continue to attract the best calibre of medical students to pursue careers in surgery.
Writing and Editorial:
I greatly enjoy writing, that includes both papers and grant applications (both successful and often unsuccessful). I’m looking forward to making an even wider contribution from September, as the 2018-2019 BJS Editorial Assistant.