NRCM 2018 Blogpost

National Research Collaborative Meeting (NRCM) 2018

This December the National Research Collaborative Meeting (NRCM) 2018, celebrated 10 years of collaborative research. This historic conference was hosted by the NORTHWEST research collaborative and STARSurg at Manchester’s Chetham school of music and library.

This pan-specialty conference welcomed over 250 delegates from around the United Kingdom, including consultants, surgical trainees at all levels of training and medical students. This conference provided attendees with the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals and leaders in research and gain exposure to the variety of collaboratives represented at this event.

The day consisted of keynote lectures and numerous breakout sessions, all of which catered well to the varying tastes of the attendees. The beauty of this day was that it was easy to remain interested and engaged throughout the day, due to the variety of the talks. From patient led keynotes to focused talks on designing a successful research project, which addressed topics such as: tips for a successful grant application and asking the right research questions in your study. Presentation of trials and national study results, including IMAGINE, highlighted the great leaps being made by research collaboratives, which was truly inspiring to witness.

STARSurg’s next national audit project REspiratory Complications after abdomiNal surgery (RECON) was also officially introduced at the NRCM 2018. (Please visit the RECON page in our project hub for more information on how to get involved with this study).  STARSurg also delivered useful workshops such as ‘Get me an AFP’, a mini ‘GRANULE course’, which were particularly engaging for the medical student attendees of the conference.

NRCM 2018 concluded with an exhilarating debate with Prof Dion Morton arguing that “this house believes that all collaborative research should be published under corporate authorship” and Prof Torkington arguing against.

This conference highlighted to me how much the collaborative research model has revolutionised the surgical research landscape over the last 10 years. What resonated with me the most from this conference is the idea that collaboratives foster a grass roots approach in their operation. Where they empower keen researchers from all levels, even medical students and equip them with the knowledge and skills to help deliver high quality, impactful studies. All with the end goal of improving patient care and the patient experience.

This blog post was written by Rachel Thavayogan, a 4th year medical student and STARSurg committee member from the University of Nottingham Medical School.

RECON Launch and Research Skills Meeting, January 2019

We cordially invite all collaborators and regional leads to the Student Audit and Research in Surgery (STARSurg) launch of our new project RECON (REspiratory COmplications after AbdomiNal) and Research Skills Workshop at the Royal College of Surgeons, England, 09:00-17:15, Monday 14th January, 2019.

STARSurg has now delivered five national audits of surgical and perioperative practice: STARSurg-1, Determining Surgical Complications in the Overweight (DISCOVER), Outcomes after kidney injury in surgery (OAKS)-1, OAKS-2, and Ileus Management International (IMAGINE). To date, we have engaged 5,400 collaborators in our projects from over 170 centres in the UK and Ireland, with data being collected on more than 20,000 patients. This has resulted in over 80 presentations (at regional, national, and international conferences) and 11 peer-reviewed papers published within high impact journals, including the British Journal of Surgery (BJS), British Journal of Anaesthesia, and Anaesthesia (see

The January meeting will be split into two parts:

(i) A half day interactive STARSurg Research Skills Course, delivered by an expert faculty. Certificates of completion will be provided to all delegates.

(ii) A formal protocol launch for RECON, with an afternoon of plenaries from world-leading academic surgeons and peri-operative physicians.

Tickets ** Free** – refundable deposit

Sign up for this FREE event today! (a deposit of £20 is required, but this is refundable following attendance at the meeting). If you are unable to attend the meeting after booking, refunds will be issued up to 30 days prior to the meeting.


With special thanks to BJS Society

Click here to get your tickets 


Questions about a Regional Lead position? Meet Melika!

Hello, my name is Melika, a recent appointee to this year’s STARSurg Steering Committee. I first joined the collaborative as a data collector for the OAKS 1 project investigating the incidence of acute kidney injury following surgery. The insight gained and valuable learning experiences garnered have meant that I remained involved with the network for my successive medical school years; later undertaking the role of Regional Lead for King’s College London for the OAKS 2 and IMAGINE projects, the latter in partnership with EuroSurg.


I owe much of my knowledge on the foundations required for a successful research initiative, with the potential to derive outcomes and conclusions translatable to clinical practice, to STARSurg. The operational setup of the collaborative instils medical students with the confidence to become involved in research from their early pre-clinical years and subsequently supports their progress into the other avenues of academia including scientific writing, data analysis and the pre-requisites requested for ethical approval. Regional Leads play an important part in delivery of the central plans to local sites and therefore implementation of core stages of the study. Tasks may include recruitment of dedicated collaborators to mini-teams, supporting registration of the study with the audit departments at each Trust and overseeing tasks that would enable amalgamation of high quality data. There are indispensable active learning points for the Regional Lead within each of the aforementioned engagements.


I am now a long-standing advocate of collaborative efforts for advancing research in the field of surgery and see the STARSurg collaboration as a potent front to spearhead progress. With this agenda in mind, I would strongly encourage keen medical students striving to expand their remit in academic medicine, to apply for the Regional Lead position.

Questions about a Regional Lead position? Meet Danny!

Hey everyone, my name’s Danny and I’m part of the STARSurg steering committee. My official role is helping co-ordinate and organise the appointment of regional leads at each medical school – as well as making sure everything runs smoothly for the regional leads throughout the study period – so you’ll be seeing and hearing a lot from me. Last year I was a regional lead for Leicester medical school before moving up the STARSurg ladder and we thought it would be useful for you to read my experience of the regional role.

So why be a regional lead? There are many reasons as to why regional lead positions are great. First of all it’s a great opportunity to learn more about audit and research and what happens behind the scenes a little bit in terms of audit registration etc. This is a really useful skill for your future careers in whatever speciality you end up in as audits will definitely form part of your working life. Secondly, STARSurg has a range of other events and courses that you get first dibs on which help you develop your skill set in academic life. Being a lead is also a great opportunity for networking within STARSurg and the wider surgical community which is great for those considering a career in surgery. You’ll make friends and contacts you would have never have met before, and it’s often nice to socialise with fellow members at conferences and events! All regional leads also have the opportunity to apply for the steering committee when applications are available – something again I’d highly recommend.

Perhaps the most rewarding thing about being a regional lead is watching data collection progress successfully and knowing this is from your hard work. In Leicester for the IMAGINE study I co-ordinated roughly 60 students, doctors and consultants across 5 different hospital sites and I found it really rewarding seeing peoples enthusiasm and interest in surgery and academia grow through the efforts I’d put in locally. Often students are keen to be involved in research but don’t have the opportunities – so it’s a nice feeling that you are helping them develop. Being a regional lead does come with challenges but STARSurg are there along the entire journey to make sure you are supported in your role!

If you don’t have any previous experience with STARSurg or with research and audit, don’t worry – these skills can be learnt and I wouldn’t let this discourage you from applying for the regional position. If you have any questions please do get in touch with STARSurg or myself at

STARSurg First Meeting 2018/19


Last Saturday, the new STARsurg Steering committee for the 2018/2019 year met for the first time at the Institute of Translational Medicine at the University of Birmingham. It was a great opportunity for the new steering committee members to meet the STARsurg alumni, who very generously passed on their expertise and shared their experiences. Our new steering committee is comprised of 12 members including 7 existing members and 5 new additions. This was an extremely productive meeting where the details of our exciting new national collaborative study in perioperative care was discussed. We also discussed the future of STARsurg and the many ways we can continue to support our ever-growing student / trainee collaborators, as well as continue to push the barriers of collaborator research through conducting high quality multi-centre studies.

STARsurg will once again be running its highly popular GRANULE course. This course equips students with the skills to recruit patients for Randomised Control Trials and a mini version will take place at the next National Research Collaborative Meeting 2018 in Manchester.

Registration is free, and tickets are going fast, get yours at:



New Steering Committee for 2018/19 Announced!


Welcome to the new committee

At the end of May, we invited applications for the STARSurg steering committee, receiving over 40 high-quality applications. All applications were marked by six independent committee members and senior advisors, and shortlisted candidates underwent a telephone interview.

STARSurg are delighted to be able to welcome 5 new student committee members to the team. We are all looking forward to having their perspectives and input into the support and development of STARSurg in the future! All the new committee have been involved with STARSurg in the past (either as local leads, and/or collaborators):

  • Melika Akhbari 4th Year Medical Student (current local lead for Kings College London).
  • Danny Baker 4th Year Medical Student (current local lead for the University of Leicester).
  • Rachel Thavayogan 4th Year Medical Student (current local lead for the University of Nottingham).
  • Victoria Murray 3rd Year Medical Student (current local lead for the University of Leeds).
  • Waheed-Ul-Rahman Ahmed 4th Year Medical Student (collaborator for the IMAGINE study).

STARSurg has always been a student-led initiative, with 70% of the steering committee at present being students. Over the 5 years since the collaborative was founded, we have had 28 committee members which have represented 21 medical schools across all of the UK and Ireland. Therefore, it is fair to say that we are a truly national group! With our new members we now have a  committee representing 8 medical schools (Nottingham, Leicester, Manchester, BSMS, Leeds, Exeter, Kings College London & Southampton)

However, there were some excellent candidates this year, and we would like to thank everyone who applied, for the time and effort taken to do so. We are always keen to provide opportunities to progress within STARSurg, irrespective of stage.

Therefore, we would encourage anyone who has not been successful this year (or who may be interested in becoming more involved with STARSurg in the future) to apply for the upcoming STARSurg Regional Lead Position at their medical school, or continue to remain active and involved as a collaborator on future projects. Applications out soon!

Day Zero AFP: STARSurg/SARS Pre-conference day

Over 30 delegates joined us on the 9th January 2018 at the Queens Medical Centre at the University of Nottingham for our first joint event with the Society of Academic and Research Surgery (SARS): Day Zero AFP. We were fortunate enough to be joined by the distinguished faculty of SARS, who delivered “speed dating sessions” for students, in areas such as accessing research grants all the way through to AFP interviews.

The day began with a general overview of the AFP, with a talk from ASiT on getting the most from surgical training. Career development was then focussed on which was individually delivered by SARS faculty over lunch, giving opportunity for informal networking as well as general advice from SARS for students. Heading into the afternoon, a bitesize GRANULE (GeneRAtiNg StUdent Recruiters for Surgical TriaLs) course was then delivered by STARSurg. A session on “How Not To Publish” by BJS was delivered, specifically aimed at encouraging and assisting medical students to publish and how to avoid the common mistakes that lead to rejection.

Medical students were given the opportunity to brainstorm in groups and become a collaborating member in a potential future consensus publication surrounding a strong AFP application. We hope that the nature of this potential publication demonstrates to medical students that it is not impossible to contribute and publish research, even at the early stage of medical school.

We are grateful to have been given this opportunity by SARS, we would also like to say thank you to our platinum partner BJS for allowing us to run these events for medical students, and look forward to more like this. Thank you to ASiT and Wesleyan for supporting us on the day.

NRCM 2017

The National Research Collaborative Meeting 2017 was host to over 250 delegates from across Europe (and beyond)! With representation from 25 nationwide collaboratives, the NRCM 2017 was the biggest of its kind so far.

It was truly a great experience to witness surgical trainees, research leaders, and medical students from around the UK showcasing collaborative research from across all specialties and training levels. Further to this, the opportunity to meet various like-minded individuals from across the world who share a passion for research was truly invaluable.

The fact that numerous talks were available for a variety of audiences was remarkable. It catered for the wide range of interests held by those in attendance. The parallel sessions that featured throughout the day meant that medical students and trainees were able to engage in more directed and focused talks that were specifically designed to discuss and highlight key areas of interest.

The talks held in the main hall were conducted by a range of academics from various backgrounds, with aim of coming together in order to share both successes and opportunities for future growth within the field of surgery. As part of this, I was able to witness the ambition and determination to drive collaborative research to the very forefront of the surgical field.
All in all, the NRCM 2017 presented as an opportunity to remove oneself from the familiarity of day to day work, study or research and come together with individuals from across the UK and Europe to learn, share and celebrate achievements towards better patient care.

This blog post was written by Ibrahim Yasin, a 4th year medical student and STARSurg committee member from the University of Southampton Medical School.

Develop Your Research Skills

A solid grounding in key research concepts is essential for medical students building an academic career. STARSurg recommends the following videos and slides for learning the core concepts:

Introduction to Medical Statistics

– A short video that outlines the role of statistics (its uses and limitations), review of variable types, descriptive statistics and inferential statistics.

Introduction to Managing a Research Project

– A short video providing one way (of many) to structure a research project, from conceiving, planning, doing and concluding. A great summary before starting on your own research or audit project.

Effective Applications and Interview Techniques

 – A short guide to understand the types of  potential questions that can be asked in an interview for an academic application, hints and tips on how to approach them, how to present your evidence for these questions and how to prepare prior to interview.

Effective Applications & Interview Techniques

To find out more and get all you need to apply to a competitive academic foundation programme join us for our Day Zero AFP Course

STARSurg partners with the British Journal of Surgery

STARSurg is delighted to announce the British Journal of Surgery as a platinum partner. The BJS has published our two first national projects DISCOVER and STARSurg 1 and this agreement further strengthens our relationship. The BJS is rated one of the top surgical journals in the world.

BJS is published on behalf of the BJS Society Ltd by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The Journal’s influence and standing has grown over the years through the ownership of its registered charity, the BJS Society. The Society’s objectives are to advance and improve education in surgery and to diffuse knowledge on new and improved methods of teaching and practising surgery in all its branches. It does this primarily through the promotion of the Journal but it has also developed strategic European partnerships. The BJS Council of Management is drawn mainly from these partner surgical associations whose relationship has increased the Journal profile and broadened its attraction globally. The Council is proud of the quality of the journal, the content of which is further enhanced by a hands-on approach by its editorial team in improving submitted manuscripts and the journal content.

BJS is the premier peer-reviewed surgical journal in Europe and one of the top surgical periodicals in the world, with an impact factor of 5.899. Its international readership is reflected in the prestigious international Editorial Board, supported by a panel of over 1200 reviewers worldwide.

BJS features the very best in clinical and laboratory-based research on all aspects of general surgery and related topics. BJS has a tradition of publishing high-quality papers in breast, upper GI, lower GI, vascular, endocrine and surgical sciences.

Content includes Leading Articles, Reviews, Original Research Articles, Systematic Reviews, Meta-analyses and Randomized Clinical Trials.

An online subscription to BJS gives you instant access to content directly from your desktop or mobile device:

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