Professor Andrew Hill, Middlemore Hospital, University of Auckland
I have been running a research group since 1996. The Auckland Medical Research Foundation (AMRF) has been a consistent supporter of this work. In particular my group has been awarded the Ruth Spencer Medical Research Fellowship on three occassions in 2007, 2009 and 2011. This has been a fantastic support and has been well used. I have asked each of the recipients of this award to describe their work.
Parry Singh will complete his PhD prior to the end of 2013. During this time he has published 18 journal articles and has presented nationally or internationally over 40 times. He has won several awards including the colorectal poster prize at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Annual Meeting in Kuala Lumpur in 2012.
“Over the past three years, I have had the opportunity to conduct research towards a PhD with the support of an AMRF Ruth Spencer Medical Research Fellowship. My doctoral work has explored the impact of the surgical stress response on recovery and complications following major colorectal surgery. This has included investigating the utility of inflammatory markers in the blood and patient recovery scores to predict complications after surgery. This has led to conducting a large multi-centre randomised clinical trial to investigate statins (a commonly used cholesterol-lowering class of medication) as a novel agent to reduce the inflammatory and stress response after surgery and improve patient outcomes. Through this research time, I have gained invaluable skills in research methodology, data analysis and interpretation which have helped improve my critical thinking skills. Furthermore, being able to present my work at scientific conferences has helped develop my presentation skills. For the next step in my career, I will be undertaking my training in General Surgery and am confident the skills learnt during my research time will complement my clinical work.”
Sanket Srinivasa completed his PhD in 2012. Sanket has published over 40 papers and presented his research all around the world. He has won many awards for this research including the Graham Hill Award in Surgical Metabolism and Nutrition at the recent International Surgical Week in Finland and the Killingback Colorectal Prize at the recent Annual Meeting of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in Auckland.
“My research centered on investigating the ideal amount of intravenous fluid to be given to patients undergoing major bowel surgery for colon cancer. The academic highlights of this work were several publications in highly ranked international surgical journals and prizes recognising this work as fundamental to surgical practice. More importantly, however, this work has led to direct changes in practice both locally and internationally and has led me to consider pursuing a career as an academic surgeon in the future once I have completed my clinical training.”
Arman Kahokehr completed his PhD in 2011. He has published over 50 papers and is now training as a Urologic Surgeon. He also presented his work all around the world and won several prizes including the Young Investigator Award at the Surgical Research Society in 2010.
“As a post graduate research fellow embarking upon surgical research and a PhD tenure, I was the recipient of the Ruth Spencer Medical Fellowship from the Auckland Medical Research Foundation in 2009-10. This fellowship was extremely important in enabling me to kick start a research career, and allowed me to focus on the job at hand; how to reduce the impact of major surgery on patients and enhance their recovery. During my PhD work I was able to author scientific literature and had success at international conferences. In May 2010 I won the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) trainee prize in general surgery and in November 2010 the Young Investigator Award at the Surgical Research Society of Australasia. This prize allowed me to present our work at the meeting of the Association of Academic Surgeons Scientific Congress at Huntington Beach, LA, USA. As a RACS trainee I continue to be active in medical research. I hope to have an academic career.”
What I have not made clear is the joy that I have had being able to be involved in the lives of these three young men at an absolutely critical time in their lives. While we have spent a lot of time doing research we have also worked together on developing their careers and the rest of their lives. I am still very much in touch with each of them and each of them would say, if asked, that the three years that they spent doing research were among the best years of their lives. Both Arman and Sanket have gone on to get married and Arman became a father this year. Thus, in some sense, I am now a grandfather. This is the untold story of the Ruth Spencer Fellowship – the enabling of a deep and satisfying mentor-mentee relationship that continues to deliver for us all.
Each of these young men has been an outstanding investment by AMRF and we are deeply grateful for the support of the Ruth Spencer Medical Research Fellowship.