Everything you need to know about being a STARSurg Regional Lead

Hey, our names are Omar and Sanchita, some of the new STARSurg steering committee this year. We both joined after being RECON regional leads, and so are well placed to give some insight into the role!

About us

Omar (Final Year at University of Dundee): I first joined STARSurg as a collaborator for the OAKS-2 project three (long) years ago. I gained an invaluable insight into surgical academia and assimilated the ethos of collaborative research into my practice as a medical student. I went on to become a regional lead for RECON, contributing to one of the most significant collaborative studies ever conducted by a student-led research collaboration, with a whopping 12,000 enlisted patients!

Sanchita (4th Year at University of Cardiff): I got involved with STARSurg as a data collector in IMAGINE, and became a regional lead last year for RECON. I have always been interested in research and have been involved with a myriad of research projects, from lab-based to larger data-based clinical studies. However, the collaborative model of STARSurg is very unique as it is very student-led and has supported me to push my own boundaries, develop more skills – not only skills in research methodology but also develop organisational and team-building skills. 

How do you feel being part of STARSurg?

The opportunity to be a part of this wonderful collaborative family – run by students for studentshas been energising (to say the least). Every single role within the STARSurg community, collaborator to committee member, is an integral part of the success of STARSurg and the delivery of high-quality research projects with the aim of improving patient lives.

What was gained from being a regional lead?

Regional leads are crucial for delivering STARSurg studies locally and ensuring the smooth operating of the collaborative throughout the country. Securing this role opens up a myriad of opportunities and develops the fundamental set of skills necessary for a future career in surgery and academia. During our time as regional leads, we were involved in recruiting collaborators, supporting audit registration, and handling the day-to-day running of STARSurg

We significantly enhanced our confidence and leadership skills through coordinating a national study at our own individual trusts, built upon our research skills and networked with enthusiastic students and surgeons both locally and nationally. We’ve also found out this now counts for Core Surgery Training (CST) applications as it’s a regional leadership position for a year!

What was the most rewarding aspect of this role?

We both agree that we found this role very rewarding as we were able to meet like-minded students; revelling in the opportunity to guide them through their own academia pathways. This role acts as an avenue to get involved with STARSurg at a national level, as well as opening doors to greater national opportunity through the extended collaborative network. It is an amazing feeling when each of us as medical students can successfully take ownership to deliver and implement research projects of this scale! 

What are the extra benefits of being regional lead?

As a regional lead, you would also be in first priority to reap the benefits of several opportunities such as the annual STARSurg project launch, GRANULE courses, and Hack days. This would further improve your academic research skills, including writing papers and even your communication skills in recruiting patients into randomized trials. On top of all that, you have the chance to meet keen and supportive academics and STARSurg committee members that have your best interest at heart.

What was the most challenging aspect of this role?

The time commitment to the role differed from day to day; however, an average of 1-2 hours of dedication a day would be required once the project was running. As the regional lead, we had to troubleshoot any problems that arose on the ground in the different centres – whether it may be issues with the audit registration, problems with data collection or mitigating mini-team conflicts. However, the steering committee was incredibly supportive of all regional leads to address these challenges, and we even supported each other if we had faced similar issues! 

What advice would you give to incoming regional leads?

From our experience, we recommend getting audit registration process started much in advance of the project start date, as there can be many challenges in getting that off the ground initially. Audit departments each have their local requirements and need to be addressed specifically. Furthermore, we recommend having a meeting (albeit fairly informal) to go over the data collection process with all the data collectors prior to start date, in order to discuss any issues anyone may have about the study design, data collection process, getting access to the data, etc.

Would you recommend applying for regional lead?

STARSurg is a collaborative network that nurtures excellence in surgical research through support, mentorship, and guidance. We would strongly recommend all keen medical students, no matter what stage you are in, to apply for a regional lead position and join the STARSurg family. We’re looking forward to working with you all over the next year!

New STARSurg Committee and STARSurg Regional Lead applications

Still revelling in the success of the data collection stage of the RECON project, the months of June and July brought new excitement to the STARSurg steering committee as we sought to recruit our newest members. We invited applications for the STARSurg steering committee across the network, receiving over 56 high-quality applications.

All submissions were triple marked by committee members and senior advisors. As always, this was a difficult process in exploring shortlisted candidates’ views for innovation and ideas for future STARSurg prospects in informal discussions via subsequent telephone interviews.

As we move into the new academic year, STARSurg are delighted to be able to welcome 5 new student committee members to the team. We look forward to continue to build on the success STARSurg with their support, enthusiasm, and novel perspectives.

  • Isobel Trout – 4th Year at Birmingham University(RECON collaborator)
  • Omar Kouli – 4th Year at Dundee University (current Dundee Regional Lead)
  • William Cambridge – 3rd Year at Edinburgh University (RECON collaborator)
  • Samuel Brown – 3rd Year at Leicester University (IMAGINE collaborator & RECON Hospital Lead)
  • Sanchita Bhatia – 4th Year at Cardiff University (current Cardiff Regional Lead)

Remaining true to one of the core STARSurg ethos established at its inception, the group remains a predominantly student-led initiative, with 69% (n=11) of the steering committee at present being students. Since the collaborative was founded in 2014, the steering committee has included 38 committee members over the past 5 years, encompassing 21 medical schools across the UK and Ireland.

As our new members join the team, STARSurg continues forwards as a truly national group with our steering committee now representing 12 medical schools! (Birmingham, BSMS, Cardiff, Dundee, Edinburgh, Exeter, KCL, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester, Nottingham and Southampton).


We would like to thank all the candidates who submitted applications this year. We are grateful for the time and effort you have taken to invest in the STARSurg vision. 

When considering the steering committee recruited over the years, we are always keen to provide opportunities to progress within STARSurg, irrespective of stage.While the majority of the current committee have been recruited following experience as a regional lead (median involvement of 13 months, range: 5 – 32 months), 6 members were recruited directly from being a collaborator (median involvement of 6 months, range: 3 – 18 months). 

Therefore, we would encourage anyone who was not successful this year (or who may be interested in becoming more involved with STARSurg in the future) to consider applying for the STARSurg Regional Lead positions at their medical school (DEADLINE 14th Aug at 23:59). In addition, there will be future opportunities to remain active in STARSurg as a hospital lead or collaborator in our next project in early 2020.

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.

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: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/national-research-collaborative-meeting-2018-tickets-44810903619



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.

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:

Get instant access to important general surgery research from around the globe
Read issues back to 1998
Download the BJS app for access to content on the move
Access the top cited and most popular papers
Get the latest articles ahead of the print edition with Early View
View articles in HTML, PDF or the interactive Anywhere Article
Search by keywords, author, and much more
Get the latest articles delivered direct to your desktop or mobile device with Content Alerting
Copyright STARSurg ⓒ 2017

ESCP 2017

STARSurg were lucky enough to be invited along with our partner collaborative Eurosurg to the European Society of Coloproctology (ESCP) Annual Conference in Berlin last week. The ESCP conference is one of the largest conferences in surgery worldwide.

Before the conference, STARSurg was invited to deliver a half day version of it’s GRANULE course, for training students to recruit patients to randomised trials. This the first time it has been delivered internationally, with participants from 7 countries, including New Zealand!

Sign up to our mailing list or follow us on social media for the latest details of our GRANULE courses in the coming year.

The three day course featured experts from around the world presenting some of the recent landmark studies conducted in colorectal surgery. Eurosurg and STARSurg were delighted to launch our upcoming IMAGINE study and our previous work alongside these eminent speakers.

Eurosurg were given the opportunity to discuss their previous Eurosurg 1 study as well as two sessions to launch the IMAGINE project: a presentation and a dedicated parrallel session. At the parallel sessions delegates from new partner countries including Austrailia. New Zealand and more were introduced to the IMAGINE project and advised on launching a collaborative for the first time in their countries.

STARSurg also had 5 posters accepted to the conference, which may be viewed below:

















STARSurg’s Educational Impact on Students: A National Study

Education Paper Infographic

STARSurg published the above paper in 2015, see the full text free here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4456723/

This study was conducted by surveying the collaborators of our original STARSurgUK study in 2013. The collaborators reported a number of benefits to their participation in STARSurg including: increased confidence in clinical data collection, increased confidence in presenting findings, increased appreciation of research, audit and the quality improvement cycle.

These are all skills and values essential to the GMC’s outcomes for medical graduates in Tomorow’s Doctors which includes ‘the doctor as a scholar and scientist.’ Many medical students struggle to find the opportunity to engage in high quality research and STARSurg fills this gap.

Since the initial 2013 study, STARSurg has conducted 3 larger national cohort studies with many more thousands of medical students participating.

STARSurg will be running it’s first pan-European collaborative with partners Eurosurg, this year, see here: https://starsurg.org/imagine-project-hub/. This will offer research opportunities to many more students across Europe and further increase STARSurg’s educational impact.