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.




Introducing our New Steering Committee

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

Emily Mills is a 3rd year medical student at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. She had the following message for any student interested in STARSurg:

Hi, my name is Emily. I was appointed as late local (regional) lead this year for Brighton, in order to assist with the OAKS2 project, a follow up audit from a previous project regarding outcomes after acute kidney injury. The application process was straight forward and had a quick turnaround. As a third year medical student, I had no prior experience in research/academics outside of the medical school curriculum. I’d been in the committee in my Surgical Society at medical school but didn’t have much opportunity to get involved in research. Despite this, with support from STARSurg I found it easy to register and gain approval for the audit. This involved contacting the audit department at my trust and obtaining approval for data storage and collection. I also used the e-learning modules provided to understand the importance of data protection within a research environment.  My role and tasks were clearly defined and I found the Steering Committee extremely approachable and helpful.  I appointed another student as a collaborator and approached a consultant general surgeon to be my supervisor, who was also extremely helpful and answered any concerns or queries I had.


I have now recently obtained a position on the Steering Committee, with one of my main roles being to support local leads in future projects. This means that several members of the Steering Committee have been in your role and experienced the same challenges, and so will understand and expect you to ask them for help. I faced very few challenges within my role, and when I did I simply asked for advice and resolved them.


I would strongly encourage any student interested in research or surgery to apply for a local lead position, as it is a unique opportunity to independently gather knowledge about how audits and research are initiated, carried out and finalised. This is all whilst feeling completely supported by others and never left without help.


There is no need to worry about time commitments, the role is perfectly manageable alongside your studies and other interests or hobbies if you are proactive and focused. We are looking for those that will be dedicated to the role and are looking to join an ever-expanding network that has links across Europe and the globe. Not only will this role give you an opportunity to contribute to the academic side of clinical practice so early on in your career but it will also enhance your CV and future applications (AFP especially!).

GRANULE Delegates and Faculty

Highlights from Second GRANULE Course

STARSurg ran it’s second GRANULE course on Monday in Birmingham, designed to train medical students to recruit patients to Randomized Control Trials. 

The one day course consisted of plenary sessions by leading researchers in trial recruitment and practical sessions with simulated patients to try and recruit them. Delegates also attained the Good Clinical Practice qualification which is necessary in the UK to recruit patients to clinical research.

Feedback from one of the delegates is below:

Firstly, I would like to say, prior to the course, how replies to emails were informative and speedy so thank you for this.

 Upon arrival on the Sunday night, I found the hotel clean and comfortable. I also enjoyed the meal at the Cosy Club, it was good to get to know the other delegates in an informal and relaxed setting prior to the course. I enjoyed the food (even if it was a little meat heavy!). Myself and a couple of others also commented on how convenient it was having the hotel, the restaurant and the RCS Ed in such close proximity to one another.

 The day of the course was very enjoyable.  I am a younger medical student and being alongside senior professors and junior doctors can often be intimidating, however, I felt welcomed and encouraged from the start. I was also worried that the course may be aimed above my level but I found it pitched perfectly and appropriate for all members of our group, regardless of whether they were a junior doctor or a first year medical student.

 The live demonstration was very helpful and allowed us to see how it should be done- definitely something that should be continued in the future. The most valuable part of the day was without doubt the afternoon interactive sessions- these really allowed us to learn and enhance our techniques and develop skills that will be very applicable in the future. It definitely was beneficial to keep rotating the actors/staff members as they had very different teaching points and styles and allowed us to pick up on different things- this also broke up the afternoon a bit which otherwise may have felt too samey.

 In summary I have had a great time on the course and in Birmingham and thank you very much for all your hard efforts. I look forward to future teaching events in the future.

We hope to be running more of these courses in the coming year, please sign up to our mailing list or follow us on social media to keep up to date with GRANULE and more.

STARSurg Steering Committee Announced

At the end of April we invited applications for the STARSurg steering committee, receiving over 30 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):

  • Ross Goodson (current local lead for Imperial College London).
  • Emily Mills (current local lead for Brighton and Sussex).
  • Nikhil Thakral (current local lead for Exeter and Plymouth).
  • Ibrahim Yasin (current local lead for Southampton).
  • Rachel Khaw (OAKS-1/2 collaborator at the University of Manchester).

STARSurg has always been a student-led initiative, with 70% of the steering committee at present being students. Over the 4 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! Indeed, with our new members we now have committee representing 10 medical schools (Birmingham, BSMS, Edinburgh, Exeter, HYMS, Imperial, Manchester, Southampton, UCL, and Warwick).

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. 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 new committee (n=15) have been recruited following experience as a local lead (mean involvement of 7 months, range: 1 - 24 months), there have been 4 members who were recruited directly from being a collaborator (mean involvement of 8 months, range: 3 - 15 months).

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.

Join the STARSurg Steering Committee

STARSurg welcomes applications to join it's national steering committee. These will be triple marked and the shortlisted candidates will be telephone interviewed. Only candidates who are not in their final year of study at medical school at the time of application will be considered.

Joining the STARSurg committee is a fantastic opportunity for medical students interested in research. Successful applicants will gain experience in leadership, study design, organisational skills and team work that have proved invaluable in future job applications- in particular to academic foundation posts.

Contact us for more details.

DEADLINE: 5th May 2017

Email completed forms to

STARSurg Prize Blog


STARSurg are delighted to support the Medical Student Prize award for best Oral Presentation at the ASiT International Conference. The winner of this year’s prize was Alexander Hollis, a final year medical student at the University of Birmingham, who has kindly written a report of his project here:

As a medical student, structured research opportunities can be tough to find. At the beginning of your medical career it can also sometimes be challenging to direct your enthusiasm in a productive way! I was fortunate enough at Birmingham to stumble upon a fantastic program which solved both these dilemmas. The Upper GI Charities at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) and the Upper GI Blues Charity from Sandwell have generously provided funding for one or two students to take part in a summer ‘research fellowship’ for up to 8 weeks. I saw this opportunity in the medical society’s weekly bulletin and duly sent in my application.


The ‘research fellowship’ was supervised by a Consultant Upper GI surgeon with a special interest in oesophageal cancer. We discussed potential project titles and decided on using the ‘Tracker’ database at the QHB to assess the relationship between tumour length and patient survival and outcome. The Tracker database is an in-house project of the Upper GI surgery unit at QEHB and it prospectively collects patient data for all oesophageal and gastric cancer patients treated at the hospital. We decided to investigate tumour length as our project title for a number of reasons. First it is a measurement that is routinely collected both preoperatively (CT, PET, EUS, Endoscopy) and also on post-operative pathology, however it is not currently part of the official staging process. Second, there has been previous studies that have shown that it may have a prognostic value but none on such a large scale or looking at tumour lengths across a range of diagnostic modalities. The project aim was primarily to determine whether tumour length could be used to aid clinicians and patients in predicting the prognosis of their cancer.

Screen Shot 2017-04-14 at 11.30.41Screen Shot 2017-04-14 at 11.32.30

We found that unfortunately there was no significant correlation between tumour length on any of the preoperative investigations (CT, PET, EUS, Endoscopy) and patient survival. However, we did find that tumours over 3cm on pathology had a significantly worse prognosis than those below 3cm. Interestingly there was not a progressive decline in survival in tumours larger then 3cm instead survival steeply decreased and then plateaued.


In addition to this project, I also edited an educational surgical video on Minimally Invasive Oesophagectomy.  This is to be presented at the ASGBI Surgical Meeting in May where it won the Audio-visual Prize for best surgical video.


The main benefits of being involved in this project was having the opportunity to join and receive guidance from an established research team. The skills that I was able to develop while seeing a project out from inception to publication will hopefully set me in good stead to continue my research interest. Understanding the process of research, data collection, statistical analysis, academic writing and presentation skills are also very transferable and will hopefully benefit me in whatever field I end up pursuing.  We are in the process of writing up our research for publication in a surgical journal.


I would like to thank again my supervisor Mr Ewen Griffiths for his support and guidance. Also the Upper GI Charities for funding this unique post for students to get involved in research at such an early stage. I’m also grateful for James Hodson, Statistician for performing the statistics for this project.

OAKS 2 Drawing to a Close

As the last centres involved in OAKS 2 finalise their results, OAKS 2 has collected data on over 3000 patients with nearly 60% of the patients from OAKS 1 followed up so far. This has involved 300+ collaborators at over 100 hospitals across the UK and Ireland.

Whilst intended as a smaller scale project than our last two projects, this still represents a larger study than our original STARSurgUK study. This highlights how far the collaborative has come given that we can get still get more coverage and more patients despite this and this is thanks to the strong enthusiasm and engagement by students with research and our collaborative over the last 4 years.

OAKS 2 will elucidate the long term sequelae of patients who suffer an acute kidney injury (AKI), as despite it being an acute event the effects on mortality and morbidity remain pronounced in the long term. The factors leading up these further adverse events are not well understood, particularly following surgery, and we hope that with OAKS 2 we will be able to elucidate these. This is one of the few long term follow up studies in this area and the first to be performed by a student collaborative.

In other news we hope to announce a new risk scoring system for AKI based on the OAKS 1 study very shortly and will be submitting the OAKS 1 paper soon.




FPAS Letter Accepted in IJS

We are delighted to announce that our letter to the Foundation Programme Application System (FPAS) organizers has been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Surgery (IJS), with over 900 signatories.

You can view the letter here: Letter

FPAS seeks to reward the ‘academic excellence’ of students, however it fails to achieve this aim. Currently, students are not awarded points for projects which are published under collaborative authorship. This is in contrast to secondary authors on lower quality papers such as case reports. This is despite the hard work and dedication needed, educational value and other transferrable skills gained by participating in collaborative research, which is often greater than those projects which are awarded points. We therefore wrote to the organizers of FPAS to challenge their policy and request they award points to collaborators in collaborative research projects.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook or sign up to our mailing list for updates on this.

Introducing STARSurg Hack Day

We are delighted to announce a new event, STARSurg Hack day!

The idea behind the hack day is simple, to use STARSurg data to generate new findings that will go on to be published in peer-reviewed journals and help improve patient care.

Teams of 5 or 6 people, alongside a member of the STARSurg team will work together with an expert data analysis team to produce a paper on a specific, pre-agreed, topic. The team will take the idea from data through to a drafted manuscript, which after the hack day will be critically revised and submitted for publication. Analysis will take place in our secure computer environment. The end publication will be written under group authorship.
Prior to the day there will be a degree of background work required to build a literature review and help guide the analysis to ensure the day is productive as possible.

The hack day will be held at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh on 3rd of March 2017. There are very limited places for this unique event, so confirm early! Applications close on the 2nd of February.

A £25 deposit will be required, this will be refunded on attendance.

You can register online: