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Current and Past Research Fellowships

One-Year Surgical Research Fellowships: 2017-2018

For 2017-18 the RCS awarded 29 one-year surgical research fellowships, following an interview assessment. The Research Board selected the fellowships from an extremely high-quality field, reflecting the standard of surgical research being carried out throughout the UK today.

Donate to surgical research

We depend on voluntary donations from individuals and trusts as well as legacy bequests to fund these invaluable research projects.Find out more about supporting surgical research. Alternatively, please call us on 020 7869 6086 or email fundraising@rcseng.ac.uk.

Miss Graeme Ambler Mr Kavit Amin Mr William Breakey  Mr George Garas 
Mr Adam Hexter Mr Andrew Hollingsworth Dr Ian Jones Ms Meera Joshi 
Mr Tom Jovic Mr Jamie Kelly Mr Matthew Lee Mr Kartik Logishetty
Ms Isabel Martin Mr John Mason Mr Rory Morrison  
Ms Mona Mozaffari Dr Navraj Nagra Ms Angela Pathiraja  
Ms Marta Penna Mr Yiannis Philippou Mr Atheer Ujam  
Mr Olamide Rominiyi Mr Kapil Sahnan Mr Atheer Ujam   
Mr Paul Vulliamy Mr Robert Charles Walker Mr John Whitaker   
Dr Woo-Young Yang Mr Ardalan Zolnourian  

Mr Graeme Ambler

 

Royal Gwent Hospital

 Antiplatelet therapy after peripheral angioplasty

'Blood thinning medication following leg angioplasty'

 Blocked arteries in the legs can lead to amputation. Blocked arteries are becoming more common, largely because they can be caused by diabetes, which is increasingly common in the western world. Opening blockages using balloons to prevent amputation is performed over 30,000 times/year in England. Blood-thinning medication is given afterwards, preventing blockages recurring and reducing the risk of heart attacks, strokes and death. It is unknown which blood thinning medications are best for this, so we aim to develop programmes to decide what large trials should be performed to find out which medications are the best at saving legs.

 

Mr Kavit Amin

 

University of Manchester

The Optimisation of an Ex-Vivo Limb Perfusion Protocol for Transplantation

'Improving limbs for extremity transplantation'

Limb loss drastically alters quality of life and transplanting limbs is now possible in the UK. There are two limitations to successful limb transplantation, preserving the limb during transport and graft rejection following transplantation. These complications are causally related, as ischaemic time directly correlates to cellular injury, which in turn directly contributes to acute rejection. We have developed a technique called ex-vivo limb perfusion (EVLiP), which we believe can address both problems. We plan to use EVLiP to physiologically preserve donor limbs for transplantation. This technology could improve outcomes following limb transplantation.

Mr William Breakey

 

Great Ormond Street Hospital 

 

What increase in volume is needed to manage raised ICP in craniosynostosis? 

'Using Springs to Improve Skull Volume'

Craniosynostosis is a rare condition, affecting one in every 1,800 - 3,000 children. It is caused by early fusion of different sections of the skull. When a child has craniosynostosis their skull grows abnormally, this leads to pressure on the brain causing problems with vision, breathing and feeding alongside headaches and learning difficulties. This research will help sufferers by assessing the current surgical techniques and investigating the effect of these procedures on the problems this condition causes. Potentially leading to new surgical methods and devices. 

Mr George Garas

 

Imperial College London 

 

Enhancing healthcare value though surgical innovation metrics 

CThe NHS is experiencing a radical transformation driven by pressures to reduce costs. Measuring value (quality over cost) is more important than ever. At present, the rate of innovation occurring in surgery is beyond our systemic capacity to quantify it. Assessment and judgement are often used rather than actual measurement. This research aims to propose a novel, quantitative network-based framework to systematically measure surgical innovation based on real-world big data network analysis. This will enable prioritisation; optimise healthcare value, saving lives and improving patient outcomes through targeted technological adoption, improved services, and informing policy. 

Mr Adam Hexter

 

UCL 

 

The Novel Use of Demineralised Cortical Bone for ACL Reconstruction 

'Knee Ligament Repair Using Demineralised Bone'

120,000 people sustain anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injuries annually in the USA and current treatment consists of hamstring tendon repair. However 80% of patients develop arthritis within 15 years, due to poor integration of the graft into bone. Symptoms of pain are often disabling. Demineralised Cortical Bone (DCB) is a protein scaffold that can improve repair of tendon injuries. I will investigate the use of DCB for ACL reconstruction. By developing a biological scaffold to repair ACL injuries that reduces subsequent arthritis, this will improve patient outcomes and reduce costs to the NHS.

Mr Andrew Hollingsworth

South Tees Hospital

SPIRIT: Statins for the Prevention of Ischaemia Reperfusion Injury in Trauma  

Reducing Inflammation after Traumatic Blood Loss'

When people are severely injured they can lose a lot of blood. Ultimately blood flow is re-established by medical intervention but this triggers inflammation, which may be widespread, life threatening and impact recovery. Battlefield casualties are vulnerable due to potentially prolonged evacuation and limited medical resources. Giving a drug such as a statin shortly after injury may limit this inflammation and improve outcomes. This study will assess the ability of a statin to limit a mild and short-lived inflammatory response generated by a safe model of blood loss and tissue injury in healthy volunteers.  

Dr Ian Jones

 

University of Southampton 

 

The Effect of Remote Ischaemic Conditioning on Necrotising Enterocolitis 

Necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) is a devastating disease causing severe intestinal inflammation affecting around 3000 (mainly) premature babies annually, with a 15-40% mortality. Survivors have significant morbidity. Despite improved outcomes for premature babies overall, no improvement has been made in NEC outcomes. Remote ischaemic conditioning (RIC) has shown significant benefits in other conditions that share features with NEC. RIC can be delivered by simply inflating a blood pressure cuff above systolic blood pressure for short periods of time. I aim to determine if this intervention may, in the future, be effective treatment for NEC by testing it in an experimental animal model. 

Ms Meera Joshi

 

West Middlesex University Hospital

Wearable Sensium Vitals Patch Monitoring in Hospital 

'Continuous Vitals Monitoring'

In 2005 the National Patient Safety Agency found 425 avoidable deaths in acute hospitals (64 deaths occurred as unwell patients were not recognised and treated). Changes in patient’s vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, respiratory rate and mental state) present hours prior to harmful events. Unfortunately, where vitals on wards are taken between 4-8 hour intervals this is often missed and must be improved. Earlier identification has better outcomes. New wireless wearable sensors offer continuous monitoring of vitals and alert staff to unwell patients. This research explores ways to identify unwell patients sooner through sensors and alerts. 

Mr Tom Jovic

 

Institute of Life Sciences, Swansea 

 

Chondrogenic and Adipogenic Potential of a Novel Nanocellulose Bioscaffold 

'3D printing cartilage and fat'

Head and neck deformities affect approximately 1 in 100 people and 1 in 8 women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis, with many needing breast reconstruction. We know that being able to make cartilage and fat in the lab will have worldwide implications. Our research has led us to find a new stem cell source and a promising new 'natural' scaffold act as a framework. We now want to investigate how well we can make fat and cartilage by combining this framework with stem cells. .

Mr Jamie Kelly

 

St Thomas' Hospital 

 

A Role for Inflammation in Spinal Cord Ischaemia following TAA Repair? 

'Reducing Paraplegia Rates after Aneurysm Surgery'

An Aneurysm of the aorta refers to a swelling of the body’s main blood vessel and can be treated with stents. Stent coverage blocks the smaller branches that arise from the aneurysmal aorta and supply blood to the spinal cord. In some patients this interruption in blood-flow can lead to paraplegia, or permanent leg weakness. By taking samples of spinal canal fluid during surgery we aim to measure markers associated with signs of paraplegia/weakness with the aim of identifying patients at risk. A better understanding of the cellular changes that occur could lead to new treatments that prevent paraplegia. 

Mr Matthew Lee

 

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals 

 

Development of a decision aid for treatment of perianal Crohn's fistula 

'Sharing decisions about Crohn's anal fistula'

Around one in three people with Crohn's disease will be affected by an anal fistula (connection from back passage to the skin). This can severely affect their lives by causing pain and leakage. This often needs surgery to improve symptoms, although the choice of surgery can vary. 

With the help of patients and experts, we will develop a 'decision aid' to help guide decisions about surgical treatments. This will be tested to see if it is acceptable to patients and doctors, and whether this improves satisfaction with decisions made about operations.

Mr Kartik Logishetty

 

Imperial College London 

 

Augmented Reality Gaming to Optimise Surgical Training and Performance 

Delivering expert levels of surgery is a team skill, combining knowledge, technical and non-technical ability. Yet little is understood about how, together, the surgeon, their assistant and scrub nurse acquire and integrate these skills. The Augmented Reality (AR) headsets which we have developed allow multiple wearers to overlay 3D digital information onto the real world, and tracks hands and surgical instruments. Using AR gamification, my project investigates 1) how surgical teams learn, and 2) if enhancing their abilities during simulated and real surgery can accelerate learning, deliver expert-level skill, and thus improve patient care. 

Ms Isabel Martin

Imperial College London 

 

Environmental influences on gastrointestinal neoplasia in adenomatous polyposis 

'The Environment and Inherited Gastrointestinal Cancer'

Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is an inherited condition accounting for less than 1% of colorectal cancers. Patients develop multiple pre-cancerous polyps throughout their gastrointestinal (GI) tract and bowel cancer at a young age. Current management involves genetic screening, surgery and endoscopic surveillance. We suspect that the environment influences development of cancerous lesions in FAP and aim to investigate the role of cancer genetics, gut bacteria and digestive secretions (bile). The cost of lifelong screening and repeated surgical resections is high for both patients and the NHS. This research will improve our understanding of cancer pathways and development. 

Mr John Mason

 

University of Oxford 

 

The pathophysiology of the exosome switch in colorectal cancer progression 

'Nanovesicles promote colorectal cancer growth'

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the UK. Survival from CRC that is confined to the bowel wall has improved dramatically, but once the disease spreads to other organs 95% of individuals die within five years.

Exosomes are nanometre size vesicles secreted by cells, which play important roles in communication between neighbouring cell-types. We have shown that CRC cells produce ‘switched exosomes’ capable of promoting tumour growth and spread. The benefits of this project may include: developing new methods of identifying aggressive tumours before they have spread and/or new targets for chemotherapy. 

Mr Rory Morrison

 

Newcastle University 

 

VASO (Vitamin D and Arthroplasty Surgery Outcomes) 

'Vitamin D deficiency and joint-replacement outcomes' 

190,000 total hip and knee replacements are carried out each year in the UK, but up to 20% of patients remain dissatisfied. Vitamin D deficiency is very common in this group of patients, and studies have suggested a link between deficiency and poor outcomes after surgery. We propose a simple, randomised feasibility trial to see if treating Vitamin D deficiency before surgery improves patients’ outcomes after surgery. If we show a benefit does exist, then given the large number of patients affected, the results of a trial could have a significant effect.

Ms Mona Mozaffari

 

King's College London 

 

Investigating the Aetiology of Cholesteatoma 

'How ear-drum development contributes to causing cholesteatoma'

Cholesteatomas are destructive growths in the ear (annual incidence is 13-30 per 100,000). They destroy surrounding tissue as they expand, leading to severe hearing loss. Owing to their fatal capacity for intracranial extension, they remain a cause of morbidity, particularly in children. Treatment is surgical but recurrence is common. Little is known about how they initiate. This project will study how cholesteatomas form by concentrating on why they develop only in certain parts of the ear-drum. This will identify novel ways to prevent their occurrence and improve upon currently imperfect surgical treatment. 

Dr Navraj Nagra

 

Botnar Research Centre, Oxford 

 

Is there evidence of a gut-joint-axis in osteoarthritis and tendinopathy? 

'The microbiome and joint disease'

There is a evidence that osteoarthritis (‘wear and tear’ arthritis) and tendinopathy (tendon pain - where muscle joins bone) are caused by inflammation. Both conditions affect a significant proportion of the population and are debilitating to patients affected. The cause of inflammation is unknown and we will investigate whether it is related to the micro-organisms that inhabit us (the microbiome).  

This work will improve our understanding of why some people get osteoarthritis and tendinopathy and we aim to help identify targets for treatments that could help prevent at-risk people developing these conditions. 

Ms Angela Pathiraja

 

Imperial College London

 

 

Can a novel bioimpedance probe provide virtual biopsy diagnosis of anal cancer? 

'Virtual biopsy diagnosis of anal cancer'

Anal cancer is a rare condition. With only 1200 new diagnoses made in the UK each year, it is difficult to detect in routine practice. Consequently diagnosis can be missed or delayed, and its diagnosis can result in chemo-radiotherapy or major surgery, which severely impacts on a patient’s life. Our research could overcome this diagnostic challenge by testing a novel probe that could be used to see whether painless bioimpedance measurements from the probe could provide a virtual biopsy and immediate diagnosis of anal cancer, thereby enabling early detection and subsequent management.

Ms Marta Penna

sarah onida 

Imperial College London 

Human Reliability Analysis of Transanal Total Mesorectal Excision 

'Rectal cancer surgery: analysing a new technique'

Over 41,000 new diagnoses of bowel cancer in the UK are made annually. Surgery offers the best chance of cure. Ensuring optimal surgical treatment without complications will enhance patients’ survival and quality of life.  

This research aims to improve surgical performance by identifying and analysing difficult components of a rectal cancer operation and how to avoid errors. By avoiding injury with more accurate surgery and removing intact specimens, patients are likely to live longer with better long-term bowel, urinary and sexual function and less risk of cancer recurrence. 

Mr Yiannis Philippou

Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Oxford 

Combining VTP and Radiotherapy for the Treatment of High-risk Prostate Cancer 

'VTP and Radiotherapy in Prostate Cancer'

Locally advanced prostate cancer (LAPCa) is currently treated with combined androgen deprivation therapy and radiotherapy. However, a third of LAPCa patients develop disease relapse. The research will test whether a minimally invasive surgical intervention termed vascular-targeted photodynamic therapy when combined with radiotherapy results in superior treatment outcomes than radiotherapy alone. If this is demonstrated, then this treatment combination will could be evaluated in clinical trials and may generate a paradigm shift in the management of men with LAPCa and those with other solid-organ cancer types. 

Mr Geoffrey Roberts

 

University of Cambridge 

 

The Metabolic Consequences of GI Surgery

'How to treat consequences of surgery

Surgery on the stomach has significant effects on how the body senses and processes food, resulting in disabling long-term symptoms in lean patients undergoing surgery for cancer. Advances in the treatment of stomach cancer, and preventative surgery, have resulted in a burgeoning population of long-term survivors after removal of the stomach. These patients face decades of symptoms, about which we have very limited knowledge. I aim to further our understanding of these problems by combining research with patients and in the laboratory, and develop novel tools for investigating and supporting our patients.  

Mr Olamide Rominiyi

 

Sheffield Medical School 

 

 

Using 3D glioma models to develop novel therapeutic combinations 

'3D-cultures to develop novel glioblastoma therapies' 

Brain tumours kill 5,000 people every year in the UK. Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most aggressive tumour arising from the brain. Despite treatment, fatal disease recurrence usually occurs within 1-2 years.

This research will use samples taken during surgery to grow tumours in 3-dimensions and test novel drug combinations which demonstrated promise in more traditional 2D (flat) cultures. 3D cultures have been shown to better represent how brain tumours behave in the clinic. As such, the proposed research will help progress these new therapies towards clinical trials to help improve survival for patients with this devastating disease. 

Mr Kapil Sahnan

 

St Mark's Hospital 

 

Designing a clinical trial for perianal Crohn's fistula 

'Understanding perianal Crohn's fistula & 3D reconstructions'

Perianal Crohn’s fistulas are notoriously challenging to manage and the burden of co-morbidity is greatly under appreciated. Establishing the best practice is dependent on understanding the epidemiological burden and identifying the outcomes measures that both determine success and that are objective/reproducible. Following this, we can inform clinical trial methodology and make true progress within the field. 3D reconstructions of fistulas can also improve understanding. Fistulas can be very difficult to understand for patients, surgical trainees and complex, recurrent disease can also be difficult for even experienced surgeons to comprehend. 

Mr Atheer Ujam

 

UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health 

 

Cartilage engineering from autologous fat for orofacial deformity reconstruction  

Congenital defects of the face are frequent (1/1000 births) and nasal disfigurement is a common feature. Deficiency in nasal cartilage is the common problem. Children with facial deformity can experience teasing, symptoms of anxiety and withdrawal. Currently there are no effective and risk free solutions for producing high quality cartilage. This study focuses on paediatric fat stem cells. They can be obtained easily from abdominal fat via a syringe, transformed into cartilage in the laboratory and then used as grafts for nasal reconstruction. This project will result in a novel therapeutic approach to a challenging medical need. 

Mr Paul Vulliamy

 

Royal London Hospital

Diagnosis and treatment of platelet dysfunction after severe injury 

'Preventing secondary injury following trauma'

Trauma is the most common cause of death in both sexes between the ages of 1 and 35 years worldwide. Advances in trauma care have enabled patients to survive much more severe injuries. For a third of these patients, their own immune response which is protective in mild trauma can become dysfunctional in severe trauma, leading to secondary immune injury, causing sepsis and organ failure.

This research seeks to improve the understanding of this immune response in order to develop treatments to prevent secondary injury; thus improving the survival and long-term health and function of trauma victims. 

Mr Robert Charles Walker

 

University of Southampton 

 

Genetic Predictors of Response to Chemotherapy in Oesophageal Adenocarcinoma 

'Tailoring Pre-Op Chemotherapy in Oesophageal Cancer'

Oesophageal cancer is difficult to cure and spreads quickly. Less than 10% of people survive for 10 years after diagnosis. I aim to find out why some patients respond to chemotherapy whilst the majority don’t. Specifically, whether the genetics of the tumour are responsible. My project combines genetic sequencing and experiments on cancer cells in the lab. I hope the results can spare those that won’t benefit from chemotherapy and treatment can be tailored to individuals. By understanding how the genes work, we can create new treatments so more people respond to chemotherapy and survive.

Mr John Whitaker

King’s Centre for Global Health and Health Partnerships 

Trauma System Evaluation in Low and Middle Income Countries

Injuries cause more than five million deaths each year - roughly equal to the number of deaths from HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined - and more than 90% of injury deaths occur in LMICs. As such, trauma is of significant global health importance. Trauma-associated mortality may be doubled in LMIC settings when compared to high resource settings. We wish to develop, pilot and validate a ‘Three Delays’ model for trauma system valuation in a LMIC setting. This could enable better measurement and potential improvement in trauma systems in LMICs. 

 

Dr Woo-Young Yang

University of Liverpool 

HPV-associated head and neck cancer

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a rapidly increasing cause of throat cancer. Patients with HPV-associated tumours are younger and smoke and drink less than patients with tumours not caused by a virus. Although HPV-associated cases respond better to treatment than non-HPV cases, the treatment often result in poor swallowing and the patients have longer to live with the side-effects.  

Extracellular Vesicles (ECV) are microscopic particles released by cancer cells, used to transfer cancer-specific genetic material between cells. Researching ECV may help us to develop new treatments, preserving good cure rates but with less long-term swallowing difficulty.

 

Mr Ardalan Zolnourian

University Hospital Southampton 

Neuroprotective effects of Nrf2 activation in subarachnoid haemorrhage

Subarachnoid haemorrhage is a type of bleed into the brain that is frequently fatal and leaves many of those that survive severely disabled. Even those with small bleeds usually suffer long-term problems with memory, concentration, anxiety and personality causing relationships to break down and prevent resumption of work. There is good laboratory evidence that a new anti-oxidant medicine, a synthetic extract of broccoli, can potentially improve their recovery. I am doing a study of this medicine in patients and want to use a new type of MRI scan to show it reduces brain damage.

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