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:



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:

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: This will offer research opportunities to many more students across Europe and further increase STARSurg’s educational impact.


STARSurg Featured by the Journal of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland

We’re delighted to announce that a feature on STARSurg has been published in the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (ASGBI). The issue may be viewed here:

ASGBI generously offered us the opportunity to deliver a keynote presentation of the OAKS project at their national conference this year in Glasgow, details available here:

ASGBI is one of the largest surgical organisations in the UK and the only organisation covering all branches of general surgery. Their annual international congress is one of the largest international surgical conferences in the UK and will next year be taking place in Liverpool.


Introducing our New Steering Committee- Ibrahim

Earlier this month we announced 5 new student committee members following a very competitive application process.

Ibrahim Yasin is a 3rd year medical student at the University of Southampton. He talks through his route through STARSurg:

My progression through STARSurg initially began when I volunteered as a collaborator for OAKS-1. This involved collecting data from computer systems for an hour or two most evenings (This was flexible as my mini team would split the work load).

Shortly after completing OAKS-1. STARSurg e-mailed with regards to regional lead positions being available. The application process was quick and easy. It involved completing an online form with personal details and some questions. At this particular time, I had little experience of audit and research but was able to demonstrate examples of transferable skills that would be most beneficial. Once I had submitted, it wasn’t long before I had heard back with the news that I was accepted for the role.

STARSurg had also e-mailed about available steering committee positions. I felt however that becoming a regional lead first would provide me with the necessary experience and insight in order for me to apply to join the steering committee.  The application process was very much the same. You had to demonstrate active interest and involvement in STARSurg activities and write about what makes you suitable for the role. This was followed by a quick telephone interview which was informal and friendly.

I personally believe that STARSurg offers some of the best opportunities to get involved in audit and research. There is great advantage to being part of a collaborative, it means that you can be fully involved in the entire process whilst having the necessary guidance and support when needed!

When I became a regional lead for STARSurg, I held the responsibility of delivering the OAKS-1 follow-up study (OAKS-2) across different hospital sites in Wessex. This region contained 11 active hospitals, which is one of the highest numbers in the UK for this project. This meant that organisation and time management were key to serving the role to its full potential.

In general, I could summarise my duties as follows:

  • Recruiting collaborators via an application based system
  • Providing collaborators with detailed instructions on how to conduct the audit
  • Coordinating mini teams and placing them in contact with audit offices
  • Communicating between the steering committee and mini teams
  • Publicising other ongoing STARSurg events

(The steering committee were extremely helpful if I was facing any difficulties and I would be able to contact them over social messaging platforms for quick advice)

As a regional lead, you have the opportunity to write papers for publications and attend massively oversubscribed courses such as Hack day and GRANULE. You also have the chance to develop a network with other like-minded individuals across the UK which opens a whole new window of opportunities.

All in all, I am grateful for being part of a collaborative that places medical students at its heart and I would definitely recommend the position of regional lead to anyone. It is truly an amazing opportunity with great and rare experiences that allow you to develop a unique skill set and have a great time whilst doing so.